Sunday, January 25, 2015

Construction to Begin on Wacky Townhouse with Fiery Facade

Feel the burn. A single-family residence located at 187 Franklin Street in Tribeca is moving forward with construction on a kooky design which will see the building’s frontage removed and replaced with a wavy red-brick facade which resembles dancing flames. In addition to a transformed facade, two stories will be added, including a setback penthouse. Construction is already underway and the project is slated to be completed in December.

It isn’t the sort of design you’d expect to see in Tribeca, but lo and behold, this bold statement by architect Jeremy Edmiston of System Architects is about to become a reality along a quiet block just east of Greenwich Street.

The building, which was originally constructed in 1993, is located on a landmarked block that is part of the Tribeca West Historic District.

While the architect keeps to Tribeca’s history with a red brick facade, he doesn’t try to replicate the building’s neighbors.

The facade of 187 Franklin Street will be comprised of 14,538 bricks assembled is such a way that it makes the townhouse appear as if it is entirely engulfed in flames.

The designer’s inspiration for the facade is actually far more functional and well suited than one would guess. The architect writes on his website:

“Because our clients’ home faces a public building, we added a new facade in which the windows are angled so that they protect the family’s privacy, while bringing in a whole lot of light.”

In addition to the building’s wacky flame-like facade, the metamorphosis will also include tilted windows, silver mesh-like balconies, the addition of two more stories, and a setback brick penthouse on the roof.

The townhouse was put up more than twenty years ago and is not historically significant. But because it’s in a landmarked district, any new building or addition to a building has to go before the Landmarks Preservation Commission and prove that it’s not bringing down the neighborhood.

Getting the blessing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission can be a tricky thing. Typically, the best bet is to go with historic materials and keep the modern ornamentation to a minimum.

That was clearly not the approach that System Architects took.

Surprisingly, the design won accolades when it went before Landmarks back in 2011. Members said everything from “It more than works—it actually enhances the richness of the district” to “We should celebrate this project."

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for the design with a rare vote of 9 to 0 in favor of the building.

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