Bond, 48 Bond
The inimitable Deborah Berke tackles a New York apartment building, from the basement to the developer's penthouse
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 2/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Ah, the wreckage that was Bond Street—until recently a dead zone of New York squalor right off a Hollywood back lot. The cobblestones and Victorian factories are still there, of course, though perhaps a little cleaner now. Blame Ian Schrager for recasting the two-block strip as design's new, new thing during the publicity blitz for the apartment building he'd commissioned Herzog & de Meuron to build there.
The Schrager building boasts gleaming bottle-green spandrels and a baroque gate that looks like graffiti-informed aluminum squiggles. By contrast, the building that Deborah Berke & Partners Architects designed for an empty lot nearby is almost Spartan. The facade gathers power through geometric discipline, largely produced by monolithic slabs of black granite. "We were stretching the limits of what you can do with a panelized system," senior architect Catherine Bird says. Noting the jaunty tilt of the canted bay windows, Deborah Berke herself adds, "With that degree of severity, there's plenty of room for whimsy."
Such architectural distinction represents a big step in the right direction for one of the developers, BFC Partners and Dacbon's controversial principal, Donald Capoccia. Capoccia not only put up 80 percent of the money for the 99-year ground lease for 48 Bond and selected Berke for the project but also brought her back for his own apartment, the triplex penthouse. At 3,900 square feet, it maintains key elements of the smaller condominium units downstairs, such as silky pre-finished engineered-walnut floors. Appropriate to its position at the top, however, the penthouse eliminates partitions to open up the layout into something of an urban rambler, complete with two gas fireplaces.
Anyone coming to visit Capoccia or his partner, Tom Pegues, a risk manager for the financial-information company Dun & Bradstreet, exits the elevator on the penthouse's middle level. Directly ahead is the slender entry's bronze-finished console, set against a wall clad in highly polished gray marble. At the far end of the entry, marble gives way to a burl veneer that wraps into adjoining rooms—50 linear feet, all told. After reviewing images of logs sent from a specialty veneer manufacturer, Bird flew out to Indiana to supervise the matching of the wood as the flitches were laid out.
The penthouse was essentially furnished from scratch by principal Caroline Wharton. Public spaces incorporate vintage pieces that Wharton intermittently discovered online and nailed down during chauffeured shopping excursions. "With Don, it was important to be efficient," she says. And practical. The butterfly-back Paul McCobb dining chairs are upholstered in solution-dyed acrylic to withstand the sun that drenches the room from two exposures.
Naturally, Capoccia and Pegues expected fine flourishes, too. "You need to remember I like a bit of Leona," Capoccia says, referring to the infamous Helmsley, his former boss. That explains a chair's brown shirred-silk upholstery and the honey-dipped tones of the Venetian glass chandelier—which arrived disassembled in "50 pieces," Wharton groans.
Glass laminated around rice paper forms the balustrades of the floating stair that links the two main levels with the roof. At the very top, chaise longues face an accordion-fold glass wall that transforms an indoor space into a cabana with a CinemaScope view and access to a private terrace. Berke skipped one of those trendy sky-high swimming pools here, instead squeezing in a subterranean lap pool 12 stories below.
She eliminated basement-gym claustrophobia by reallocating what could have been retail space at ground level to double the height of the pool area. "I hope Don will invite me over to do the backstroke," she says. Whenever the shades of sidewalk-level windows happen to be up, passersby get a peek at the swimmers and the graceful undulations of the cedar-slat canopy suspended from the ceiling. The lobby's Florence Knoll bench, with its tufted orange cushion, also affords a pool view through interior windows.
Not immediately visible is the concierge station, down a long hall from the entrance. For residents, Berke notes, this avoids the unwanted gaze of a white-glove doorman "who knows you are sleeping with Mr. X and Mr. Y." Call that an alternate brand of Bond Street luxury—the discreet flip side of showy Schrager hospitality.
Photos by Catherine Tighe.
Noah Biklen; Andrew Ledbetter; Jacquelyn Moore-Hill; Daniel Pontius: Gf55 Partners: Vortex Lighting: Severud Associates: Rodkin Cardinale Consulting Engineers: Ace Styline: DCR Construction:
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