Space4Architects creates a serene and fluid space on the Upper West Side.

Open floor plans aren’t typically associated with historic buildings, yet that’s just what architects Michele Busiri-Vici and Clementina Ruggieri of Space4Architects achieved through the use of bright walls, white oak woodwork, and a striking central staircase. The riser-less stair uncoils as it descends through the five-story tall building, enabling light from a glazed back facade and skylight to reach even the lowest stories. “The town house typology is a challenging project,” the firm says, noting that this project for a couple with two young children “transforms it into something new, while respecting its inherent characteristics: the possibility of having multiple spaces to live in, allowing for a sort of ever-changing way of daily family life.”

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The Piranesian view upwards through the central stair to the top floor skylight.

The kitchen has views to the historic main entrance and features lacquered cabinets and an integrated wooden niche custom-designed by the architects with GD Cucine. Matching Corian countertops and an integrated sink maintain a minimal aesthetic alongside appliances by Gaggenau and Miele.

The primary living space is on the second floor, where side shelves in rift-cut white oak match the treads of the central staircase. The hand rails are blackened steel.

More custom millwork features asymmetrical shelving and closed storage spaces with sliding panels on HAFELE sliding tracks. A 10-inch matching pocket door provides privacy when desired without interrupting the space.

The third floor houses the children’s bedrooms, with curtains by The Shade Store.

The master bedroom includes a luxurious ensuite bath with a white Thassos marble shower box and subtly-patterned Flores tiles by Mutina. The white oak continues in the vanity, with a Thassos top, vanity lighting by Aamsco, and all fixtures by Dornbracht.

The architects added a small circular skylight to serve as a vertical focal point in the center of the fifth floor. The quarter-sawn white oak risers produce a beautiful rippled grain highlighted by the abundant natural light.

The restored brick rear facade contrasts with the extended footprint of the first two floors and a dramatic cantilevered penthouse roof. Blue stone pavers, infilled with grass, finish the patio while a black steel stair leads to the kitchen.

The penthouse level, with its cantilevered overhang, opens to a rooftop entertaining space. The ipe wood cladding, blue stone pavers, and a custom roof ladder are joined by restored brick chimneys.

The fifth story was added late in the design process because “our clients wanted to have their own private space,” Ruggieri says. The stunning north view across Manhattan from the penthouse is one of the home’s best features, outlined in black steel windows by Optimum.