New York: GRT Architects

“We met in third grade. From public school in 1988, we followed a similar but not identical path. We studied history and worked in the arts before becoming designers and this has been important to our young firm, GRT Architects. We believe our best work comes from a process that makes time to read and think before putting pencil to paper.”


SEE ALSO: New York: Studio Giancarlo Valle



Space is within a residential building in the landmarked Upper West Side Historic District. It did not immediately seem a natural fit for a restaurant. Directly inside an arched front door is a modest landing followed by a half flight of stairs. This entry forms one leg of a Y-shaped floorplan, with the only possible location for the bar in the other leg. The spaces’ remoteness from each other contravenes an instinct to lead with the liveliest space in the house.


GRT Architects was asked to renovate a four-story townhouse in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District. This twelve-block residential neighborhood was Landmarked in 1979 and the appearance of buildings within were often governed by covenants set in place by the Lefferts family that controlled heights, setbacks, and façade materials. The earliest buildings in the area show the influence of then-popular H.H. Richardson in the classic Romanesque styles, but the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition brought Neo-Classical Beaux-Arts to the fore.


When adapting nineteenth-century buildings to new functions we more often than not find ourselves removing walls to accommodate new users’ needs. In this case, we found that radically accentuating the differences between existing rooms and playing up the separation uniquely suited our client’s desire for an intimate workspace designed more like a home than an office.


GRT was asked to renovate a mid-century home designed by one of the first female architects to graduate from Columbia University’s architecture program. She also happened to be the client’s grandmother. Situated high on the east bank of the Hudson River the house is a strong, rational design that foregrounds views and the connection to the natural world outside.


SEE ALSO: New York: Studio Giancarlo Valle

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