This project consists on the renovation of a small pre-war unit in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, creating a unifying dialogue that brings together design elements of the past and present. The building, originally an extended-stay hotel built in 1910, faces Morningside Park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux at the end of the 19th Century. The building was converted into apartments in 1917 to become one of the first Co-ops established in New York City. The unit itself was in need of a complete overhaul after the previous owners had lived in it for almost six decades and had been uninhabited since 2013. 

The main concept behind the renovation is based on the transformation of the railroad apartment typology, representative of the residential architecture in New York at the turn of the century of the 20th Century, in which the spaces were organized in sequence along a linear corridor. This intervention deploys a number of carefully controlled moves, or ‘surgical operations,’ through which the alteration of interior partitions achieves spatial unity and programmatic integration thus fostering interaction among its dwellers. As a result, the kitchen-which was an enclosed and discrete volume-becomes a central space open to the living and dining room, nurturing a sense of social and communal experience.

Floor-to-ceiling shelves hold an extensive collection of literature, art and design books, creating a divider between the living room and study. At each end of this element, large-format sliding glass doors are integrated into the partition allowing natural light to filter in. The hallway is conceived as an elongated gallery to display diverse artwork in a manner inspired by traditional art salons. The opposite wall, however, contains integrated storage spaces and niches whose depth results from carving voids out of the thickness of the wall. The utilitarian quality of this elements is concealed behind large panels of marine-grade plywood that provide a seamless and continuous elevation. 

Ultimately this project embraces transformation as the means to preserve the domestic character of a space, reinterpreting architectural elements and adapting them to contemporary urban living.


Type: Residential Area: 800 sf Location: Manhattan, NY Team: Julián Palacio, AIA; Juana Vasquez-Armstrong Photos: Miguel de Guzmán / imagensubliminal Year: 2017