Michael Gabellini, the internationally acclaimed American architect - creative director of the studio Gabellini Sheppard Associates founded in 1991 in New York - has always been fascinating thanks to his way of enhancing a sense of openness and seamless fluidity in residential spaces.
He sculpts space and light, relying on a minimal, sensorial approach applied with extreme precision through the deployment of a limited, measured materic-chromatic palette. The project shown on these pages is a good example.
Here Gabellini comes to terms with the renovation and expansion of a townhouse built in the early 20th century on the Upper East Side. An exclusive single-family residence organized on seven levels (two of which , below ground, have been added in this project, to contain a regenerating swimming pool and a private fitness-recreation zone), with renewal of the finely decorated limestone front, a reflection of the original architectural image facing the city.
Inside, on the other hand, the project brings radical change: the house has become a sophisticated neutral backdrop for a contemporary dimension of living that meets the needs of a couple with four children, with a focus on effective display of their remarkable art collection.
“The residence includes an interconnected series of galleries, workspaces, formal and informal zones for entertainment, areas for living, dining, recreation, bedrooms and bathrooms, arranged in a continuum from outside to inside, public to private, the ground floor to the upper level,” the architect explains.
“The place was built as a single-family home in 1903, and then transformed into an apartment building with nine housing units. Today it returns to its original spirit, though we have inserted finishes and details with children in mind, creating a soft, organic habitat ready to adapt to changes over the short-medium term, depending on the changing needs of the younger users.”
In short, the past makes way for the future, and tradition makes way for innovation. In the flexibility of the construction, where the living areas have pale floors in white Sivec marble on the first levels and in the bedroom zones with bathrooms, the red thread is a dramatic ribbon staircase, an uninterrupted sequence of white marble slabs supported by a curved central bar to form an evocative spiral.
The narration then shifts into the lateral islands, with the relaxed rhythm of a homogenous range of pale stones, polished metals and dark wenge wood, which encounter the transparency of glass surfaces, the glossy, matte or reflecting surfaces of the furnishings and the walls that host the works of art, with their vivid hues, installed in a carefully refined composition.
The large windows on the rear facade, at all the above-ground levels, remain the medium that guarantees connection and fluid layout of all the parts. They act as visual frames for the views of the outside world, filtering the abundant sunlight that penetrates down to the basement levels thanks to the insertion of a skylight cut into the ground floor, transmitting the changing colors of the light as the evening advances.
The domestic landscape changes its tones, and the swimming pool clad in large slabs of white marble, in dialogue with the artificial lighting, reinvents its atmosphere like an immaculate underground grotto.
Project by Gabellini Sheppard Associates