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The Architect Is In: The Twice-Designed New York Loft


The Architect Is In: The Twice-Designed New York Loft

January 11, 2014

This week, Jeff Murphy and Mary Burnham of New York firm Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects talk about upgrading a New York loft they converted for the same clients 11 years ago. They’re available for the next 48 hours to answer your questions, so ask away!

In 2003, the clients originally commissioned Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects (members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) to combine two lofts into one. The result was an expansive 4,200-square-foot space that acted as a backdrop for the clients’ extensive art collection while offering unfettered views of the midtown skyline to the north and Wall Street to the south from the top (10th) floor of what had been a printing warehouse. At the time, the couple had recently had twins, and as the children have gotten older, the family felt ready to recast and update their setup a bit. “As architects, it is an unusual pleasure to have the opportunity to revisit a previous design with the same clients,” Murphy says. “Having been through a renovation together already, our relationship as architects and clients was familiar. It didn’t take us long to settle on the right approach and to make the appropriate changes.”

Photography by Ty Cole.

Above: The second time around, the architects kept the general layout, but upgraded finishes and renovated the kitchen as well as all the bathrooms. “Our client has an aversion to wood and an attraction to stainless steel, making it an obvious finish choice in the kitchen,” Burnham says.

Above: The glassware cabinet over the sink is clad in 5/16th inch sandblasted tempered glass. The clients’ glassware collection creates a colorful backdrop.

Above: The stainless steel sink was welded to the counter and backsplash. The weld was then ground smooth and brushed integrating the sink into the unit. The architects used 16-gauge stainless steel sheets with a #4 brush finish. The grain runs vertically to match the refrigerator and wine cooler. While pleasing to the eye, brushed stainless steel with welded corners requires regular maintenance; the owners regularly apply an aerosol stainless-steel cleaner with a cotton cloth to keep the design clean and polished. “To address this issue, there is a chemical treatment that minimizes fingerprints, but it will change the hue of the stainless steel,” Murphy says. “Alternatively, in the future, we would use a coarser brush finish.”

Above: “The orange Poltrona Frau sofas and custom Tibetan silk rug in the living room were selected in response to the client’s love of color,” says Murphy. 

Above: A view from the living area toward the master bedroom suite tucked behind translucent glazed doors. The floors are a white-washed oak with 4-inch wide planks.

Above: Beyond the internal stair that takes the family up to an outdoor space on the roof terrace is a dressing room. Instead of a railing that is required to highlight the level change, the architects designed a bench, which provides useful additional seating when the family entertain.

Above: The translucent wall of the dressing room is made of channel glass, an extruded structural glass product, and is lit from below with discrete LED lights installed flush in the floor and ceiling. At night the wall glows like a lantern and conducts light into the living room. Conversely, during daylight hours, the dressing room is flooded with natural light from the stairwell. The Keith Haring bench is part of the owners’ art collection.

Above: The walls of the powder room are a combination of custom back-painted glass, mirror and stainless steel panels.

Above: In the loft’s original layout, there was a closer connection between the adult and children’s spaces. “As a natural evolution of family dynamics, we have created more private space that allows for a greater separation between adult and children’s activities,” Burham says. An example of this is the former children’s game room; now an extension of the master bedroom suite, shown here, it takes full advantage of the views of the Empire State Building.

Above: A plan of the loft shows the office space next to the twins’ bedrooms, which has become their new hangout room where they can watch television and socialize with friends.

Want to live in a loft but contrained by your architecture and budget? London architect Jennifer Beningfield offers some useful tips in Loft Living in a Victorian House. For inspiration, view our photo gallery of loft spaces

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