The client happens to be my former boss so it was a collaboration. Adding a penthouse perch to this 1899 row house with a harbor view demanded unusual tactics. To circumvent municipal limitations on floor area, a section of floor was removed from one level and “transferred” to the roof as a new studio space. To comply with local height limitations, an innovative structure of solid wood studs was deployed to reduce floor and ceiling thicknesses to the bare minimum. Aside from creating the desired rooftop refuge, these gymnastics also created a dynamic cascade of interior living spaces for an urban designer and his family.
At a Glance
Who lives here: Alexandros Washburn, wife Samar Maziad, and four daughters
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Size: two stories plus a penthouse, 2240-square-foot (-square-meter) 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 bedrooms and master on third floor, two baths main level has a kitchen and dining space, laundry and bathroom, family room living room, study, upstairs 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms
Architect: David Cunningham, dcap pllc, in collaboration with homeowner Alexandros Washburn
Front room and back room kept joists, middle taken out. Through kitchen to back of house. What you see on right is a long red steel beam, Taking the floor out, there were all wood joists, some of which we reused. The red of the steel, raw delivered to site. Primed red, and Alex really like the red color. What do we do with it, can we leave it like it? So I said, why not. Gives a slightly unfinished look. Steel went in to provide support. kept a lot of the old structure to the right of the steel, This was not too bad, structurally. We had taken the wall down, just took out joists, not easy but not as worrisome. We took out the load bearing wall. That wall is new, concealing air conditioning ductwork and recessed lights.Upper left there is a duct that comes running out from master bedroom. No ac in the building, added it. Had to do a lot of upgrading of electrical. In main photo on right side see a window on the right side in the kitchen, usually don’t see one on the side, but house next door is small and it was always there. The hole we made had steel on either side and one that supports the walkway from front to
Existing joists apparent.They are pretty robust.On either side of fireplace, its chunkier than other ones, they usually don’t want wood touching front of fireplace. You get thick ones on either side because they have to take some of the load.They are really nice, really solid. Brick wall is side of building. Fireplace. Not designed, too shallow to burn wood, made for coal originally.
Above coffee pot at top brick spacing changes. dash dash dash dash. above coffee handle it goes dot dot dot, every seven courses. That’s a sign of a load-bearing wall, see the end piece, called a header. You see it in all these old brownstones. Gives wall a kind of rhythm. Kitchen countertop is recycled joists. part of volume that has pantry, powder room and laundry room.
Stair comes up from street and next takes you to bedroom level, lots of light coming down from skylight, regular skylight. In the original house, we would have been in side one of the interior rooms. Skylight is original to building. The paster was a wreck, brick was great. Wainscotting was in good shape. Put molding on that to cover gap between wain and brick when plaster was taken out.The bones of this house were generally good. When you eliminate walls, one of the advantages you have more flex in how you use space. Get more bang for buck for natural light coming into the building. Beam supports walkway supporting front of building to back of building. Main space–You can tell load bearing wall because it changes course, gets a lot tight.er
Main space on third floor is master bedroom. That fireplace is same as dining room below. Ductwork, above that 2x4 flooring of studio. End of floor another steel beam supporting studio. That floor is solid 2x4s. That was something that came from a client of ours, a developer, they were doing work in a bldg to squeeze in mezzanine, developed this trick, 2x10 or 2x8, floor ends up 10-12 inches thick. If you make it out of solid wood, you can make it thinner. Don’t leave it exposed usually. IN this instance, it was stained.
Other end of master, open to room. 2x4 flooring plus steel beam. White sheet rock is new addition on top of old brick wall, was originally a parapet. Was a roof over this space originally. Windows original, Diagonal beam we put in because engineers was worried about back wall of bldg. He wanted bracing. Cut joist and stuck it here to make engineer happy; But we also thought it looked kind of cool. We actually built the addition bigger, 250 sf floor area, roof is actually much bigger. Windows in new addition Sheetrock wallStudio is to the right. It’s not enclosed, has parapet that looks over the master bedroom. Sheetrock wall runs past the red beam.Its a narrow slot around 5 feet. Sheetrock on right goes up 3 1/2 feet, but goes all the way to ceiling on tub wall. Plaster finish sheetrock wall. Tankless hot water heater, on demand. Very small. Exposed steel roof of building. We usedsmaler joists than normal to reduce height. Super tightly space, put insulation on top of them. Left them exposed. These are by no means pretty, they are pretty industrial, they look good, have a nice rhythm. They are light gauge framing. Roof of the addition.