New Yorkers are accustomed to living and working in tight quarters. Yet, the city has an ample offering of former industrial buildings that have been adapted into residences and offices. But as in any historic SoHo or Tribeca loft, the challenge has always been to make the best use of expansive floor plates and double-height ceilings. Introducing split-levels, rooms-within-rooms, and even segmenting these massive spaces into separate units has often done the trick, alleviating the ebbs and flows of economic pressure but also achieving a level of domestic harmony.
Tasked with the renovation of a sprawling 3,200 square-foot loft in Dumbo, Brooklyn’s landmarked Clocktower Building, emerging practice Worrell Yeung devised a scheme that makes use of two central volumes. Delineating open-plan rooms on either side of the full-floor apartment, these two wooden-clad inserts contain most of the apartment’s amenities: bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and a wet bar. As a hub for the space, these two Russian Doll-eques elements help frame open living space and four panoramic exposures.
Opening up like a cabinet, the two white oak-paneled, vertical raked-pattern volumes conceal and reveal various elements including a “moment of pause” elevator foyer, cast in dark minimal materials and taut details. Marble accents found in this alcove carry through to the second volume’s kitchen counter insert, which is extended by a perfectly flush and monolith island. The vastly more private volumes reveal intimate chambers with clever details like a semi-translucent shower wall visible in one of the bedrooms.
“This apartment is so much about the views, so we clustered the program elements into two separate volumes to free up the perimeter,” Worrell Yeung principal Max Worrell explained. “The two wood volumes that define the space are essentially fraternal twins made from the same material yet different in scale and texture.”
The deployment of contrasting yet complementary materials helps define the project’s duality while helping to drive its underlying conceptual message home. The use of stone strikes a calm, grounding counterpoint to the white-oak and abundant sunlight, such as in the form of the concrete floor.
Textiles and furnishings help soften-up this boldly minimalistic interior but are soberly implemented by the architects as not to overbear or detract from the project’s chief attribute: sweeping views of Brooklyn and Manhattan.