East Side Townhouse
Private residential clients presented Tsao & McKown with the challenge of renovating a twenty-five-foot wide townhouse, dating to the mid-nineteenth century, in a manner that would intelligently harmonize with the original remaining elements. Its limestone facade still engaged the street in a severe Federal style, but the interiors of the 12,000 square foot building (which had been divided up into ten apartments) had completely lost their original configuration and details save for a magnificent oval staircase.
Tsao & McKown saw an opportunity to develop an architectural vocabulary that would serve the spirit of the Federal facade and staircase, yet imbue the new interior with modern sensibilities. The entry foyer fireplace, for example, is now framed by a colossal but subtle expanse of carved stone reminiscent of the envisioned exemplar. Simplified moldings of attenuated curves were created to define the space-defining shadows that shape the rooms. Such features create sensuous flows of light that define the spaces. The re-invention of traditional rooms was accomplished not through the complete abandonment of conventional divisions but through deliberate and redefined manipulations of borders.
Releasing the space from its historic confines, and re-imagining its future, the historic building is transformed in ways appropriate to both its original aspirations and to the modern sensibilities of the owner and architect/designer.