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A check-cashing shop was the lone tenant at 224 E. 14th St. when architect Bill Peterson bought the building in 2004. SOURCE: New York magazine

For a building that’s 150-years old, it sure sports a youthful facade.

That’s because this 16-foot-wide, East Village brownstone was brought grinning into the 21st century with a wide-open exuberance thanks to architect Bill Peterson’s re-imagining of the quintessential New York structure.

With a garage-door like mechanical apparatus lifting its front wall, the 1,900-square-foot apartment goes from indoors to outdoors with the push of a button. Listed for $2.499 million, the townhouse at 224 E. 14th Street in the East Village real estate market is far more than your average one-bedroom offering.

Even in a city packed with some of the world’s most iconic buildings, this open-air apartment is unique. It’s been featured in New York Magazine, Elle and AOL Real Estate and has earned a place in the prestigious American Institute of Architects’ “AIA Guide to New York City” and the “Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture.”

“Originally in an old brownstone there would have been a parlor-floor balcony,” Peterson told the Wall Street Journal. “This is reimagining it.”

The mechanics of the window were perfected through Peterson’s work with McLaren Engineering Group, an engineering team that has done sets for Cirque du Soleil.

When Peterson bought the building with a business partner, it bore the wear and tear of years of neglect. Its lone tenant was a check-cashing joint on the ground floor. The upper stories were boarded up, but after spending $1.8 million in 2008, he gathered a team that began investigating ways to meld the old with the new. According to New York Magazine:

Inside, Peterson and his team (Mark Castellani, Miki Sawayama, Miwa Tanaka, Hiromi Watatani, and contractor ABR Construction) thought up more mergers of past and present. The interiors are spare, with glass-finish concrete floors and white plaster walls, but include nods to Victoriana. The bedroom walls are upholstered, but with silvery acoustical blankets. John James Audubon’s 1840 Birds of America was mined for images: A bluebird, the official avian of New York State, appears as a decal on the bathroom sink. It’s just one more small surprise in a building that’s loaded with them.

The exterior was made to resemble its brownstone origin. For that, Peterson applied a thin layer of real brownstone to light aluminum honeycomb material. The look is original, but it’s aerodynamic enough to allow the wall to move.

And when the wall does open, Peterson said it looks as if the building is tilting over on its side.

Inside, the place is free of granite, Travertine or other materials that would have removed it too far from its origins. Instead, he opted for more authentic materials like porcelain. It is also sparsely decorated with a nod to the East Village of the 1960s, 70s and 80s: There’s a photo of Patti Smith, whose artistic turn came in the village, and a framed vintage T-shirt worn by bartenders at the legendary music venue, the Fillmore East.

Another garage-door like windowed back wall opens between the kitchen and the backyard. With the project completed and listed by the Corcoran Group, Peterson said he is ready to move onto the next project. If it’s anything like this open-air brownstone, then New York City is sure to gain an additional signature building.

Left to right: Wall intact, then opening... and voila! A wall opens to New York's world. Source: Bill Peterson.com

Source: AOL Real Estate

 

About the Author

Laura Vecsey is a former sports columnist, news reporter and politics writer and has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Baltimore Sun, Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union and Harrisburg Patriot-News. She was also a regional editor with Examiner.com. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

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