Communal Living on a Budget in Brooklyn
The Miner and a Major is an experiment in communal living and fantastical form. A New York story of creativity born from hardscrabble circumstance, the project grew out of the joint imagination of three architects with a limited budget.
It took just five months and $4,000 for Serban Ionescu, Jim Dreitlein, and Justin Smith to build the warren of five sleeping units inside a Greenpoint, Brooklyn, live/work loft that was selected for being big and affordable. (They slept on mattresses scattered across the floor during construction.) Ionescu and Dreitlein had collaborated before, when they cofounded and designed the now-defunct Gestarc Gallery with three friends, and the loft presented a dream opportunity for architectural experimentation.
Named for the abstract faces the architects found in the front facade, the Miner and a Major’s painted oriented strand board (OSB) exterior conceals five small bedrooms, each outfitted with a desk, bed, and storage space. Idiosyncratic openings and operable skylights offer ventilation and bring illumination from the loft’s large industrial windows into each cell. While the wood-framed walls are thickly insulated for privacy, life in the Miner and a Major is undeniably intimate. “The thing is, it gives us all weird dreams,” says Ionescu.