Beantown Dream

written by:
photos by:
July 1, 2009
Originally published in Modern Across America

In this tightly packed Northeast city where developers pounce first on any available lot, two young architects found a rare ground-up opportunity.

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  Ample windows cut into the north elevation of the Valentine House, behind which live the architects. The openings reveal lofty double-height spaces inside. The ground-floor garage often serves as a shop for architectural model-making.
    Ample windows cut into the north elevation of the Valentine House, behind which live the architects. The openings reveal lofty double-height spaces inside. The ground-floor garage often serves as a shop for architectural model-making.
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  Jinhee Park and John Hong, in a doorway that opens to the building’s shared roof deck. Behind them is the upstairs lounge of their neighbors, adorned with Eames chairs, Kartell stools, and a woodstove from Rais Wittus.
    Jinhee Park and John Hong, in a doorway that opens to the building’s shared roof deck. Behind them is the upstairs lounge of their neighbors, adorned with Eames chairs, Kartell stools, and a woodstove from Rais Wittus.
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  Andy Hong tunes out with his hi-fi system in the living area of his ground floor. The big room contains a kitchen, a washer-dryer, and ample work surfaces. “Since I travel a lot,” he says, “I really look forward to hanging out in the big room, catching up with my hobbies and doing laundry.”  Courtesy of Justin Reid.
    Andy Hong tunes out with his hi-fi system in the living area of his ground floor. The big room contains a kitchen, a washer-dryer, and ample work surfaces. “Since I travel a lot,” he says, “I really look forward to hanging out in the big room, catching up with my hobbies and doing laundry.” Courtesy of Justin Reid.
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  To save money and time, the architects used similar designs for the bathrooms 
in both their and Andy’s apartment: Philippe Starck toilets, fixtures from New York’s AF Supply, and custom cabinets painted with watertight auto-body paint.
    To save money and time, the architects used similar designs for the bathrooms in both their and Andy’s apartment: Philippe Starck toilets, fixtures from New York’s AF Supply, and custom cabinets painted with watertight auto-body paint.
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  Music is a big part of life for the Hong brothers: Andy was a DJ for an MIT radio station, where he met Thos Niles, a punk rocker. John plays the electric guitar, but these days he doesn’t have enough time to practice.
    Music is a big part of life for the Hong brothers: Andy was a DJ for an MIT radio station, where he met Thos Niles, a punk rocker. John plays the electric guitar, but these days he doesn’t have enough time to practice.
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  Between the kitchen and main entrance is a large mudroom where Andy keeps "a bike for every season, including two one-speeds." The slate floor, with a drain and a hose in the wall, facilitates mud removal.
    Between the kitchen and main entrance is a large mudroom where Andy keeps "a bike for every season, including two one-speeds." The slate floor, with a drain and a hose in the wall, facilitates mud removal.
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  Knowing that Andy’s multi-tasking begets clutter, John provided him with plenty of cabinets. By making very particular requests of The Home Depot—asking for irregular-sized doors and painting them electric green—John defied the generic look of big-box cabinetry.
    Knowing that Andy’s multi-tasking begets clutter, John provided him with plenty of cabinets. By making very particular requests of The Home Depot—asking for irregular-sized doors and painting them electric green—John defied the generic look of big-box cabinetry.
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  Avid cooks, Jinhee and John spend part of every day around their custom-built kitchen 
island, surrounded by Compasso d’Oro barstools. An edamame plant on their patio occasionally provides leaves for Korean dishes.
    Avid cooks, Jinhee and John spend part of every day around their custom-built kitchen island, surrounded by Compasso d’Oro barstools. An edamame plant on their patio occasionally provides leaves for Korean dishes.
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  Their bathroom has walls of watertight Plexiglas. “They were so easy to set up,” John says, “the contractors installed all six bathrooms in one day.”
    Their bathroom has walls of watertight Plexiglas. “They were so easy to set up,” John says, “the contractors installed all six bathrooms in one day.”
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  The building’s south elevation. The lofty double-height balcony, with windows leading into his study, shows how the architects’ break from the triple-decker’s usual horizontality created dramatic results.
    The building’s south elevation. The lofty double-height balcony, with windows leading into his study, shows how the architects’ break from the triple-decker’s usual horizontality created dramatic results.
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  Jinhee and John, looking east from the dual-story roof deck. The door behind Jinhee leads to the top floor of Andy Hong’s unit, where a bar fridge contains wine ready for parties. In the background is the boxy form of a traditional triple-decker.
    Jinhee and John, looking east from the dual-story roof deck. The door behind Jinhee leads to the top floor of Andy Hong’s unit, where a bar fridge contains wine ready for parties. In the background is the boxy form of a traditional triple-decker.
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