As the director of architecture at co-living brand Common, Jenn Chang knows all about the art of placemaking—and her own home in SoHo, New York, is proof of this. Located in the historic district of Greenwich Village, the apartment is housed within a four-story building that was originally built as a Grammar school in 1886.
When Chang purchased the 1,038-square-foot apartment in the spring of 2014, it was in decent shape, but had very standard layout. Together, with her two friends from graduate school—Charlie Able and Andy McGee—Chang worked on turning the apartment into an efficient yet beautiful home with a fresh and welcoming personality.
"The repurposing of a schoolhouse to residential use creates a progression whereby tight walls are relieved by expansive, airy spaces," explains Chang. "The former classroom—with 14-foot ceilings and oversized picture windows—is uniquely, almost proportionally cubic in its dimensions. The apartment's past makes for wonderful and unusual living space."
During the remodel, she and her friends reconfigured the layout and re-conceptualized two unused storage spaces in the lofts, making them the main design features of their adjoining spaces. This allowed Chang to keep the design of the primary areas simple and bare.
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"Our budget was limited, so the renovation did not rely on luxe finishes, but rather the detailing of basic carpentry," Chang continues to note.
"We focused on the manipulation of simple materials like, drywall, maple plywood, and raw, unfinished concrete. We collaborated with our Columbia alumni friends at Kin & Company, who custom-fabricated all of the blackened steel accents that act as the connections between all the spaces, highlighting the portals, doors, and interior windows."
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