written by:
photos by:
September 19, 2013
Originally published in City Living
as
Eye in the Sky
An apartment overlooking the High Line in New York City captures views of a constantly changing urban landscape.
high line, new york, apartment building, Neil Denari
Geraldine and Kit Laybourne’s apartment is inside architect Neil Denari’s HL23 building in the Chelsea arts district of New York. It hovers above the High Line, a former elevated rail line now transformed into a public park.
Photo by 
1 / 9
Modern urban apartment above High Line in New York City
The Laybournes worked with architect Neil Denari, designer Sandra Chamberlin, and lighting designer Linnaea Tillett to create their two-bedroom apartment inside the HL23 building in New York.
Photo by 
2 / 9
Modern living room with purple sofa and artwork
In a corner of the living room, a large work by Martin Mull and a pair of paintings by John Meyer join Moroso furnishings: a Misfits sofa by Ron Arad, a pair of white Nanook tables by Philippe Bestenheider, and Fjord tables by Patricia Urquiola covered in antique kimono fabric.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in How to Design with Purple
3 / 9
Indoor square living wall
It is all very mindful. “We proceeded with a philosophy and a vision,” says Chamberlin. “All of us understood that the poetry of what you look at is very important.”
Photo by 
4 / 9
Bouquet chairs by Tokujin Yoshioka for Moroso

Geraldine and Kit Laybourne’s apartment is inside architect Neil Denari’s HL23 building in the Chelsea arts district of New York. It hovers above the High Line, a former elevated rail line now transformed into a public park. A pair of Bouquet chairs by Tokujin Yoshioka for Moroso are comfy perches from which to gaze down on the High Line.

Photo by 
5 / 9
Modern kitchen with Artematica itrum glass system
Their kitchen features an Artematica Vitrum glass system from Valcucine, artwork by Craig Kucia, and banquette cushion fabrics by Hella Jongerius for Maharam.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in How to Design with Yellow
6 / 9
Master bedroom with Maya Lin sculpture and B&B Italia bed
In the master bedroom, a sculpture by Maya Lin hangs above a Siena bed from B&B Italia.
Photo by 
7 / 9
Aerial view of The High Line in New York City
View of the High Line public park, a former elevated New York Central Railroad spur, or branch line.
Photo by 
8 / 9

The Laybourne Residence's floorplan.

Photo by 
9 / 9
high line, new york, apartment building, Neil Denari
Geraldine and Kit Laybourne’s apartment is inside architect Neil Denari’s HL23 building in the Chelsea arts district of New York. It hovers above the High Line, a former elevated rail line now transformed into a public park.
Project 
Laybourne Residence
Architect 

Geraldine and Kit Laybourne watched with fascination as HL23, a building unlike any other in New York City, began to take shape. Architect Neil Denari of Los Angeles uses the word prism to describe his glass-and-stainless-steel condominium that rises, with a quite unexpected profile, right over the High Line in Chelsea. He explains, “It’s an object sculpted by the forces of the site.”

Graphic at a distance and geometric up close, HL23 is creative, daring, and at once fully serious and a bit playful—making it pitch-perfect for a couple who are likewise creative, daring, serious, and playful.

The Laybournes called upon Sandra Chamberlin, a former next-door neighbor and a sculptor with an astute eye for interior architecture and design, who at times also functions as a contractor, to help them scope it out. “We are construction junkies,” says Gerry Laybourne. “We love looking at buildings.”

The three of them scrutinized the plans, potential views, and square footage of at least five floors of HL23 before settling on one almost at the top of the building. “It was a chance to buy into a building that was architecturally significant,” says Kit Laybourne, a producer, educator, and painter.

Modern living room with purple sofa and artwork
In a corner of the living room, a large work by Martin Mull and a pair of paintings by John Meyer join Moroso furnishings: a Misfits sofa by Ron Arad, a pair of white Nanook tables by Philippe Bestenheider, and Fjord tables by Patricia Urquiola covered in antique kimono fabric.

With the advice and consent of Denari, and after almost daily consultations with the senior designer, Rick Michod, the Laybournes decided to make some changes, all inspired by the powerful architecture of the building. They opened up the floor plan, moving the kitchen and eliminating one of the three bedrooms in the 2,300-square-foot space. “Sandra told us we would not be happy with the kitchen and sent us to Valcucine,” says Gerry, a television executive who headed up the Nickelodeon and Oxygen networks and is currently chairman of a marketing agency. “The very next day, we picked out our yellow-and-gray kitchen.”

The builder-designed fireplace was re-envisioned to be more horizontal and to sit off-center along the west living room wall. Made of Pierre de Cluny stone, it has a rosewood “eyebrow” made from a single piece of wood. A living wall was also added to the living room. Lighting designer Linnaea Tillett (the Laybournes met her through Maya Lin, a mutual friend) was brought on to figure out how best to illuminate the apartment, which has two window walls and a spectacular view, day or night, but still needs additional light, especially in its interior spaces.

The apartment itself looks straight down onto the High Line and out across the city, with panoramic views to the south from the living room and to the north from the master bedroom. Due to what Denari calls the “dynamics of its geometry,” no two apartments in the building are alike, but all offer what he terms “a unique optical experience.”

To enhance that, Chamberlin says, “I felt the walls should remain white to keep the interior much more in touch with what Neil’s vision was, his sense of structure. I wanted to honor the idea that it was a piece of art that related directly to the High Line.” From there, the challenge was to integrate the couple’s much darker art collection and invoke their sense of humor and play in the design. “I wanted a vivid color palette,” says Chamberlin, “and I thought of Gauguin’s paintings. It was helpful to imagine the rich colors of his work.”

Master bedroom with Maya Lin sculpture and B&B Italia bed
In the master bedroom, a sculpture by Maya Lin hangs above a Siena bed from B&B Italia.

Early on, as Chamberlin tells it, Kit Laybourne said, “We want to get this Ron Arad [Misfits] sofa, but you can decide which color.” At first, she admits, she thought Misfits was actually a misfit, “but then I saw how beautifully it worked with the architecture to create a kind of interior landscape.” In consultation with Keith Anderson, then of Moroso (but now national sales manager at Artek USA), the Laybournes chose four red modules (eventually an additional piece of the collection was added, in gray).

The Misfits also became an instant playscape, likely not part of Arad’s original intent. (“Your couches have holes in them!” announced grandson Rex, age six, when he first saw them.) “In terms of our family, it is always important to us that the places we live be appealing to children,” says Gerry. The Laybournes have two grown children (daughter Emmy writes young-adult novels, and son Sam writes for television) and four grandchildren, all of whom put HL23 to its highest and best uses by making forts with the furniture, playing hide-and-seek, standing in the windows to count passing taxis or wave at pedestrians on the High Line, or nestling into the two Tokujin Yoshioka Bouquet chairs that sit in one corner.

Bouquet chairs by Tokujin Yoshioka for Moroso

Geraldine and Kit Laybourne’s apartment is inside architect Neil Denari’s HL23 building in the Chelsea arts district of New York. It hovers above the High Line, a former elevated rail line now transformed into a public park. A pair of Bouquet chairs by Tokujin Yoshioka for Moroso are comfy perches from which to gaze down on the High Line.

The furniture includes a dining table and chairs that Kit Laybourne designed with Greg Talmont and the late John Petrarca for the couple’s previous, and almost polar opposite, apartment—in a staid Arts and Crafts period building on Central Park West—and Patricia Urquiola’s Fjord Stones small tables, to which Gerry added “slips” made of vintage Japanese silk made by Andra Gabrielle. “I felt like it was getting too masculine,” she says.

Tillett Lighting Design’s installation combines both the practical—in the form of a family of fixtures that utilize a linear ceiling channel and combine downlighting and uplighting—and the aesthetic. The latter comes in the hallway, where Tillett was given free rein to treat the space “as a blank canvas and populate it with light”; the result gives the sense that seeds from the High Line have blown in, “embedding themselves in the ceilings and walls and sprouting incandescent lightbulbs.”

Likewise, Laurent Corradi’s living green wall was treated as art, with the plants arranged as carefully as paint on canvas. The Laybournes’ art collection includes a piece by Maya Lin (which hangs in the master bedroom on a wall that subtly tilts outward), along with work from Cathy Choi, Craig Kucia, Martin Borowski, and Martin Mull.

It is all very mindful. “We proceeded with a philosophy and a vision,” says Chamberlin. “All of us understood that the poetry of what you look at is very important.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016