It was great for parties, but it lacked creature comforts, a fact made evident when his wife, writer and television producer Allison Silverman, moved in. The couple craved a comfy spot to curl up and watch TV. “Lofts tend to feel cold and lack a sense of intimacy, especially in winter,” Adrian explains. “But we wanted to maintain its openness.” Before his home became their home, Adrian called on Garrick Jones (no relation), founder of the Brooklyn-based firm Ten to One, and his associate Cathy Braasch, now of Braasch Architecture, to warm up the space. In response, the designer inserted a “loop” of reclaimed oak and sustainably harvested butternut wood into the center of the loft. Resembling an oversize piece of cabinetry, the loop organizes the central space into smaller living areas, including a cozy TV and guest room.
Eco-mindedness is a matter-of-fact part of everyday life for the couple and the designer. “Sustainability comes from flexibility and planning for the long term,” Garrick says. “This is not a glammed-up loft.”
With drafty brick walls and south-facing windows, Adrian’s existing loft wasn’t particularly energy efficient—even with the addition of radiant heat in 1999. Garrick remedied that with a combination of passive and active approaches. Older still-funtioning windows were left in place, augmented with ceiling fans and operable skylights to encourage cross ventilation. When the door to the deck is open, air flows unhindered from the kitchen to the living room. Garrick expanded the radiant heating and added a high-efficiency Fujitsu Halcyon ductless forced-air system for cooling.
“It was a natural choice,” says Adrian of using reclaimed and rescued wood. “I didn’t want to chop down a whole lot of trees.” The walls and ceiling are lined with planks of butternut harvested from diseased trees in Vermont. Using lumber milled from dead and diseased wood gives a second life to blighted forests, and the worm infestations result in beautiful hole patterns in the timber. The resawn oak flooring comes from structural beams salvaged from a barn in Ohio’s Allegheny Mountains that dated back to the 1800s. The doors were salvaged from a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Contractor Halit Dervishaj of HD Carpentry was an integral part of the design team and brought his own creativity and eco-minded sensibility to the project. Inspired by a photograph he spotted on how-to website Instructables and an idea from Adrian, he upcycled the scrap lumber into a large dining-room table, laminating together butternut, oak, and Plyboo for the tabletop and adding a simple metal base with legs that Adrian ordered online. By saving a small amount of material from the waste stream, he added a critical design feature.
Adrian wanted to bring a theatrical glow to the loft without using recessed lights or cluttering up the space with lamps. He consulted lighting designer and friend Paul Whitaker and found that linear LED covelights could provide low-wattage illumination with little maintenance. Hidden near the ceiling around the dining room are fixtures by Tokistar Lighting, whose dimmable features create mood lighting for supper. Plexineon LED strips by iLight Technologies ring the skylight in the loop, giving off a cool white glow.
What to keep in mind when you’re looking at LEDs:
New LED fixtures can match incandescent color temperatures so you don’t have to sacrifice a warm glow for energy savings. Correlated color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). Look for LEDs ranging 2,700K to 3,200K.
Lumens per watt (lm/W) is the amount of light emitted with each watt of electricity consumed. At upward of 150 lm/W, LED performance beats that of incandescent (10–18 lm/W), halogen (15–20 lm/W), and compact fluorescent (35–60 lm/w) bulbs so over time they are a better bang for the buck.
LEDs are almost completely recyclable, unlike fluorescent sources that still contain mercury. Check with individual manufacturers to find out if they have a recycling program and how to participate.
To see more photos of the project, view the slideshow.
An active freelancer, Zeiger's writing on art, architecture and design is found in variety of publications including articles for Architect, Azure and Metropolis magazines. She has taught at the California College of the Arts (CCA) and at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc.) Her cross-disciplinary seminars explore the relationships between architecture, art, urban space, and popular culture. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from SCI-Arc and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University.