Contributing to the renaissance of a highly industrialized section of east Brooklyn, a derelict factory was rejuvenated as an artist’s live/work space.
The deteriorating front façade and unstable footing were replaced with a poured concrete façade reflecting the harsh conditions of the neighborhood: a single keyhole allows entry through the ¼” plate steel doors. One proceeds through the building towards the studio space at rear, passing a series of floor-to-ceiling glazed openings which function to make discreet studio spaces and maintain the floor-through transparency. From either the studio or the residential flank one has unbroken views the length of the building, consistent with the generous feel of the original manufacturing space, now a sculpture studio. No interior walls touch the perimeter. The exterior envelope is redeveloped for the highest environmental efficiency, augmenting the radiant floor technology.
The building transforms as one circulates from the closed, protective front façade to the open rear studio, where a central column and a long section of side wall were removed to access the adjacent alley and make it usable. Light reflected from this newly exposed party wall provides a diffuse studio illumination, in contrast to the existing skylights. The insertion of an inset glazed window wall forms a sheltered exterior court while visually delimiting the room borders.
During a routine site visit I realized that my vision for the space had been radically compromised. The long unfettered circulation flanking one side of the building now terminated in a bathroom wall! Bewildered by these changes I ran into the owner, who described his hesitation at having a bathroom open in two directions—hence the partition wall.
Occasionally a client comes along with deep aesthetic sense and empathy and fortunately this sculptor is one. A protracted discussion about architecture, free plans, light transmission and the nature of implied spatial continuity ensued, followed by the decision to remove the wall and free the space.