Urban House by SheltonMindel: 2017 Best of Year Winner for City House
It was clear, in Interior Design Hall of Fame member Lee Mindel‘s mind, at least, that the only way to tackle this project was to rethink the conventional approach to spatial constraints: open up the 19th-century floor plan, turn four levels into seven, and evoke an ethereal sense of lightness in a tight urban environment.
After excavating an additional three levels, Mindel built a freestanding stair tower to traverse all the way down. This establishes a visual axis through the entirety of the house—not an easy task at 10,000 square feet. Punched-out openings along the stair give access to the different rooms. Throughout, he played with the juxtaposition of old and new. “Vertical and horizontal volumes that we created allow for uninterrupted sight lines, celebrating the building’s width and seamlessly integrating with the multi-level gardens in the front and rear,” he explains. The more you travel down the stairs, the more the design veers into a soft and elegant abstraction. “It’s deceptively simple,” he continues. “This plan now almost seems inevitable, but it required a discipline and rigor that our clients were willing to support.” The outcome is a sincere bow to the past with a simultaneous, enthusiastic leap toward contemporary alternatives.