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Dwell Home Tours

Chelsea Townhouse

New York, NY

City Modern Manhattan Home Tour
Saturday, October 06, 2012

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The project is the renovation of a pre-war townhouse on an historic block in Chelsea, NYC. The garden duplex was originally dark and in disrepair: a cramped kitchen had inadequate windows facing the rear yard, the parlor level, with ornate molding, and etched glass, opened clumsily into a bedroom facing a rear yard. The design goals were to separate public and private spaces, to open the duplex to the garden, and to use sustainable practices and materials, all within a modest budget. Equally important was that the renovation respected the character of the existing townhouse.

The balance of modern design the owner desired, and the ornate decorative moldings and details that gives the pre-war brownstone its charm and character, is an example of how, rather than being mutually exclusive, they can enhance each other; embracing the space and freedom of one, while foregoing the clutter and dark cellular nature of the other. To these ends, the rear garden wall was removed opening a new master suite to the garden through full width custom glass sliding doors, and the kitchen re-located to the parlor level, to open out through refurbished French doors onto a new Ipe deck and stair. Existing and re-claimed materials are combined with LED lighting and a new high efficiency HVAC system to modernism an aged townhouse, but without losing itself.

In the end, one steps across a riverbed of white gravel onto moss covered re-claimed brick pavers, and a low fieldstone wall built from stones from the site, surrounded by lush plantings, into a private garden in the middle of the city. The adorned urban life temporarily shed, one reconnects with the natural.

About the Architect

Thumb Julian King AIA LEED AP
Julian King Architect

Julian King, AIA LEED AP received his BArch from Cornell University, going on to work for Rafael Vinoly and Richard Meier & Partners on award winning projects from the Getty Center to the Gagosian Gallery, before opening his own practice, julian king architect, in 2004. His firm was selected as the emerging architects of 2009 by Architectural Record, and has been featured in The New York Times, Architectural Record, Japan Architect, and Frame Magazine, among others, and awarded first prize in the Shinkenchiku Internation Residential Design Competition for the renovation of a stone barn in Italy into a vacation home, and selected as finalists in international competitions for the Holocaust Memorial, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Currently projects include a gut renovation of a townhouse in Brooklyn, New York, and residential projects in New York and New Jersey.


Mechanical Engineer: AltieriSeborWiebor, Consulting Engineers, (202) 866-5538
Strucural Engineer: Alnour Consulting Engineering PC, (917) 379-9376
Contractor: New York Interior Construction 
Garden Plantings: Miguel Pons Landscaping,
Millwork: Siena Woodworks,
Custom Sliding Doors: Fleetwood Doors and Windows,
Concrete:CConcrete Shop,
Carpet: ABC Carpet, NYC
Stone: ABC stone,
Bamboo Flooring: Plyboo,

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Purchase a 2-Day Weekend Pass and receive free tickets to Meet the Architects Reception.

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