Philip Ryan, founder of Studio Modh Architecture, is no stranger to the design of historical and institutional spaces. His background in institution design led him to work on projects like the Citi Bike offices in New York and learning spaces for the University of Pennsylvania. Which is why when a couple with two toddlers approached Studio Modh with their D.U.M.B.O. loft renovation, they were keen to take it on.
The family, made up of two highly busy and professional parents with two young children, had purchased a second apartment adjacent to their original space to be combined into one loft fit for their whole family. The original apartment hadn’t been renovated since the space was converted from a factory to a home in the 1980s. The challenge was to make these two separate apartments into one seamless space, a tougher challenge than you’d might think. One of the apartments was at a different floor height than the other. The homeowners also wanted to highlight the original details while giving the space a bit more modern finesse. Philip and his team uncovered the cast iron beams and created a layered ceiling that would help join the two apartments.
Key to creating a home fit for the family’s lifestyle was to make sure that certain areas were either integrated together or given their proper separation. To accommodate a living room in the area of the apartment with the best views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the architects had to make sure that the dividing wall between the children’s bedrooms and living spaces were sound proof.
The next challenge was to design an entryway and office that spatially and aesthetically worked well in the living space. Studio Modh designed an entry way bench, room divider and twenty-four foot desk made of wood from a water tower. The wood was over one hundred years old and had two sides to it: the waterside, which ended up with a purplish gray hue, and a sun side which had a bleached cedar patina. For the entry corridor bench, Studio Modh used the sun side to give it warmth, and for the room divider they used the water side to give the spaced out slats an interesting effect.
This space fits this family’s activities to a t — accommodating international business travel, inspiring creativity, learning and communal moments — emblematic of New York way of life.