And the Battery's Down
From this Battery Park City duplex by West Chin, it sure looks like a wonderful town.
Jane Margolies -- Interior Design, 9/1/2011 6:11:00 PM
West Chin has seen the family-friendly future, and it is swathed in white Corian. The solid-surfacing, which Chin has used to great effect in his FTF Design Studio furnishings line, can be easily cleaned of children's crayon and marker, not to mention parental red-wine rings. When West Chin Architect combined two Battery Park City apartments to create a duplex for a family of five, he lavished white Corian not only on the kitchen but on bathrooms and windowsills as well. Then he threw in two other elements not normally associated with clients who have young kids: panels of shimmering glass and walls painted crisp white. "Parents have a fear factor when it comes to contemporary architecture. They think it's going to be like a museum. But there are materials that can make it durable for families," the soft-spoken Chin insists-as the father of a preteen, he should know.
The duplex, which is in the tower at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, was a return engagement for Chin, who's known for exquisitely crafted minimalist residences for clients in the fashion and media worlds. Five years ago, when the Ritz-Carlton couple had one child and another on the way, they hired Chin to remodel a 2,900-square-foot apartment on the 37th floor. Later, the 4,250-square-foot penthouse above became available. It was roughly rectangular in plan, with boxy, traditional rooms and tight hallways but drop-dead views on all sides. At first, the couple thought they'd buy the larger apartment and sell the smaller one. Then they discovered they were going to have a third child and decided to combine the two units, retaining the old pad for home offices and guest quarters and using the new one as the main living space. Chin's assignment was therefore to gut the upper level-good-bye to fussy baseboards and paneled doors with brass knobs-and reinvent it as a clean, uncluttered home that gives kids plenty of room to roam.
He made the entry hall the dividing line between the two sides of the layout. To the left is the kids' wing, with two of the four bedrooms offering views of the World Trade Center site nearby and the Chrysler Building in the distance. To the right, the kitchen, dining area, and living area share an expansive corner. A stretch of rosewood veneer conceals coat closets and wraps the outside of the adjacent master suite's bathroom, one of five on this level.
Inside the master bath, a vanity with integral sinks is of course white Corian. Shower walls of white onyx display intriguing patterning that calls to mind a topographical map. "It's hard to find onyx you like. It can be gaudy, and there's always the question of the quality of the stone," he notes. To ensure stability, he had steel bars inserted in the back of his chosen 3/4-inch-thick slabs.
Flooring in bathrooms is either slate slabs or limestone tiles. Everywhere else, it's bleached oak. "I like to keep the envelope mostly neutral," he says. To introduce color, he uses furniture, pillows, and rugs, plus the occasional splash of bright paint on the otherwise white walls.
Exhibit A is the master bedroom: To create a contemporary version of a canopy for the bed, a lime green swath of drywall arcs overhead. A wall in the kitchen is likewise coated with tangerine chalkboard paint, so the kids can doodle freely. "The owners can easily change the color, at some point, or even get rid of the chalkboard idea altogether," he points out.
This is also his first fully Corian kitchen-not a single metal drawer pull interrupts the white cabinets that extend to the ceiling. The same color theory holds in the living area's main seating group, simply but choicely furnished. While the long, low sectional and two armless lounge chairs are upholstered in taupe, Eero Saarinen's Womb chair and ottoman are tomato red, as is the rug. Through the two window walls, the panorama encompasses the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and lots of action on the Hudson River-water taxis, ferries, and cruise ships churn by, leaving frothy V's in their wake.
Connecting this new upstairs world to the old apartment, a stairwell brings together multiple types of glass. One wall is clad in white back-painted glass that, thanks to clever cove lighting, appears to float. Small cast-glass pendant orbs cascade from above, carefully staggered to prevent them from knocking together if jostled by a child. And the balustrade combines panels of 1/2-inch-thick low-iron glass with a delicate-looking handrail that's actually tough blackened steel.
Also blackened steel, a vertical element resembling an extruded I beam houses the building's risers as it shoots up from the white river stones at the stairwell's base. The stones satisfy Chin's desire to add a natural element. "They're sensuous and genuine," he says. As well as family-friendly and fuss-free.
Photography by Eric Laignel.
tonia capuana (project manager); kristen furman (senior decorator); jessica salsiccia; laylah mohammad; kristen collins: west chin architect. dominick r. pilla associates: structural engineer. mottola rini engineers: mep. benco interiors: general contractor.
FTF DESIGN STUDIO: TRAY, DISHES (KITCHEN), BENCH (ENTRY), VANITY, TOWEL BAR, DOOR PULLS (BATHROOM), TABLE (CHILD'S ROOM).
ERIK JØRGENSEN: TAUPE ARMCHAIR (LIVING AREA).
LIVING DIVANI: SOFA, COCKTAIL TABLES.
CHARLENE MULLEN: PATTERNED PILLOWS.
ABC CARPET & HOME: PINK PILLOWS.
FLOS: PENDANT FIXTURE (DINING AREA).
VICCARBE HÁBITAT: CHAIRS.
PORRO: TABLES (DINING AREA, MASTER BEDROOM).
CANVAS: BENCH CUSHION (ENTRY).
WETSTYLE: TUB (BATHROOM).
SMC STONE INTERNATIONAL: WALL SLABS.
BEGA: RECESSED CEILING FIXTURES.
BOFFI: SCONCE (BATHROOM), STOOLS (KITCHEN).
STONE SOURCE: FLOORING (BATHROOM, POWDER ROOM).
VOLA: SINK FITTINGS.
CRISTINA DOS SANTOS HOME DÉCOR + DESIGN: BULL HEAD (KITCHEN).
GAGGENAU: HOOD, COOKTOP.
CONRAN SHOP: COFFEEMAKER.
ROBERT BRISTOW THROUGH RALPH PUCCI INTERNATIONAL: LOUNGE CHAIRS (LIVING AREA).
KNOLL: RED ARMCHAIR, OTTOMAN.
MOROSO: BARREL TABLE.
FREDERICIA FURNITURE: TRIPOD TABLE.
HOLLY HUNT: CHROME LAMP.
LOUIS POULSEN LIGHTING: STEEL LAMP.
JONATHAN ADLER: THROW.
JOE CARIATI: BOTTLES.
DURAVIT: TOILET (POWDER ROOM).
ANTONIO LUPI DESIGN: SINK.
ANN SACKS: WALL TILE.
DUNE: RUG (CHILD'S ROOM).
BOCCI: PENDANT FIXTURES (STAIRWELL).
ALAN COURT & ASSOCIATES: STONES.
B&B ITALIA: BED (MASTER BEDROOM).
ESRAWE STUDIO: DECANTER.
SACCO CARPET: RUG.
LIGHTOLIER: RECESSED CEILING FIXTURES.
BENJAMIN MOORE & CO.: PAINT.