Inverted Warehouse-Townhouse / Dean-Wolf Architects

© Paul Warchol

Architects: Dean-Wolf Architects
Location: , New York, USA
Partner in Charge: Kathryn Dean, AIA
Project Architect: Charles Wolf
Project Designer: Eunjeong Seong
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 10,500 sqf
Photographs: Paul Warchol

The Inverted Warehouse/Townhouse is an addition and renovation of a Tribeca loft building. The existing structure, a traditional New York warehouse covers the entire lot, consuming the exterior space traditional in domestic construction. Inverting the conventional townhouse organization recovers this coveted ground. Dissipating energy into the dark center of this converted warehouse, three double story voids animate the missing “garden” of the townhouse providing light, air, and visual contemplation.

Floor Plans

Admitting light and townhouse “garden” uses, these new spaces provide the structure for domestic life. Exterior court, reading court, and playroom are suspended into the void. Conceived as new construction built upside down into an existing building, they dissipate a radiant energy into the host.

© Paul Warchol

Self structuring corten steel panels are suspended into the voids, their shingle style layering allowing the frameless burgundy glass to float down through the walls. The suspended corten structure extends into the double height volume of the playroom with two story shelving. Continuing the flow of dissipating energy, the downward trajectory opens the floors of the lower levels, inserting two glass floors. Framed with rolled corten sections, they connect the spaces vertically while opening them to light. Countering the downward hanging of spaces is a courtyard layer of silicone-glazed glass, which lifts delicately to the skyline.

© Paul Warchol

Consistent with the logic of inversion, the main entry is onto the fifth floor. Opening onto the tense juxtaposition of exterior and interior voids, the garden lifts to the rooftop while the stair court descends into the private spaces. Two sequences separate public and private routes through these spaces. The upward route joins the public spaces, ending in a continuous roof deck inhabiting the larger space of the city. The downward route traces the inversion into the bedrooms, playrooms, and study through the stair, culminating in the glass floors and extending a view back up through all the gardens to the sky.


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Cite: "Inverted Warehouse-Townhouse / Dean-Wolf Architects" 07 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • kms

    beautiful, but should anyone be able to afford this?

  • David Basulto

    Incredible work on such a narrow and complex site. The strategy applied to the section in order to bring in the light makes this project a great example of what can be done in dense urban contexts, a precise work.

    Congratulations to the Dean Wolf Architects!

  • joeb

    great use of light and materials

  • matt

    This is a wonderful project! Love it! Im a big fan of lightwells, especially when they are thoughtfully crafted and sized correctly like this one. I’m curious how waterproofing and drainage was handled since the lightwell ends at the third floor, seemingly over living space…? Nice work.

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  • Antje Pasinga

    wonderful project – beautiful use of different materials