Spectacular steel and glass Manhattan townhouse

An inspiring renovation with superb structure and patrician facade, this 1848 Gramercy Park townhouse in New York City presented exciting challenges for the new generation of the Isaly family. Previous conversions had left one large triplex crowned by three loft-like residences. Their dream was simple but ambitious: the reconfiguration of the building into two dwellings, one atop the other, of equal value and scale. At the same time, the structure’s deteriorated condition meant investing in a whole new steel frame as well as replacement electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.

Fractal Construction redeveloped the upper half of the building only, kicking off the project by adding a whole new top floor. Measuring 620 square feet, the additional story thus solved the issue of an equal division of space between the two dwellings. Thereafter, the design plans called for an open-plan, floor-through kitchen/dining/living space, a TV room, office, three bedrooms and three and half bathrooms.

The family imagined a showcase home that honored its soul while unashamedly bringing it into the new century. In their quest for daring, they turned for help also to ODA Architecture, lighting designer Ingo Maurer and sculptor Emilio Garcia. Everyone on the team harnessed their talents to the single vision of forging spectacular, multi-function spaces in a family home bathed from top to bottom in the sparkle of the sun in the summer and the softer rays of the New York winter.

The result is a Manhattan address that captivates like few others. The walls and ceilings of the living and kitchen area are punctuated with the sensuous sculptures and exploding light fixtures of Garcia and Maurer. The bricks-and-mortar rear wall of the two main floors has vanished, replaced by a glass curtain fitted with tiny diodes, invisible by day but glinting at night like a private constellation.

The outdoor terrace leading from the living room has a glass floor and overlooks the private gardens below. With every available patch of roof converted into usable space, the house boasts two more terraces as well as a roof deck.