The New York City-based firm Delson or Sherman Architects assembled this duplex apartment in a Soho row house from two stacked apartments and a new rear extension. Their clients were a single mother and her daughter. "The rooms in our design begin compressed, then sequentially expand to draw you through the space," says principal architect Jeff Sherman (whose own amazing apartment we'll be spotlighting in a future issue—stay tuned!). To gain ceiling height in the back, Sherman lowered the extension’s floor, creating multiple levels for gardens: a green roof off the master bedroom, an arboreal backyard, and a sunken terrace outside the living room. Here, he takes us on a tour.
Sherman dropped the floor at the rear extension to gain ceiling height for the living room. Radiant heat keeps the concrete floor warm, and translucent panels by 3form define zones within the apartment while diffusing daylight.
The apartment expands as you pass through it: the hallway broadens into the kitchen and dining room, which drops into the taller living room, which in turn opens onto the outdoor courtyard.
The cantilevered steps allow views from the entry all the way to the rear glass wall.The hallway doors all slide along a single track. Upstairs, a luminous ceiling (a detail borrowed from 1950’s corporate interiors) draws you up the stair.
A chimney with back-to-back indoor and outdoor fireplaces anchors the steel and glass wall of the rear addition and allows the courtyard to be used well into autumn as an extension of the living space. Running the same troweled concrete flooring inside and out reinforces this idea.
Acknowledging that kids like playing in leftover spaces, Sherman created a wall of toy and art-supply storage under the stair. The varying anigre panels slide and hinge open in surprising ways. The stair rail floats free of the cantilevered steps.
"To keep the open space from screaming 'kitchen,' we avoided upper cabinets," says Sherman. Instead, the storage is hidden behind full-height white lacquered panels. At the sink wall, the thin stainless steel line that separates the flush anigre panels from the Ceaserstone backsplash is a recessed plug strip.
What looks like a powder room has a shower for guests tucked behind its rear wall. The top 4” of silver were sandblasted off the back of the vanity mirror to diffuse a concealed LED light.
The firebox in the master bedroom is soapstone, which stores and slowly releases the heat of the fire. The limestone hearth is recessed flush with the whitewashed bamboo floor.
The master bedroom looks onto the roof garden and the backyard beyond. Under the window, built-in cabinetry also hides the radiator.
Large planters give the green roof a broader than usual range of plantings. A rainwater-collection barrel (to the right, beyond this photo) irrigates the roof garden.
Here are the 'after' plans.