Crafty Design Apartments in Carnegie Hill

In Carnegie Hill, a residential neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, pre-war apartment buildings betray a grandeur and investment in craftsmanship that is extremely rare today. So when Michael Chen, founder of Michael K Chen Architecture (MKCA), was commissioned to renovate a 4,000-square-foot apartment in the area, he had high hopes. Unfortunately, the rich historical details he expected to find were ruined by a 1980s renovation.

“It was like a maze of sheet metal,” Chen said, and his company took it upon itself to make it right. MKCA has designed a gear circulation system that winds around the central core of the apartment elevator, providing clarity where there was previously confusion. A cast terrazzo floor with custom curved brass spacers lines the hallway spaces, acting as a handy bit of orientation. Although the terrazzo stops at the threshold of the rooms (most of them are carpeted), it continues in the kitchen, the real center of the House.

Henrybuilt cabinets and Island effectively use the kitchen’s relatively small footprint. To adapt to the island, which was important to the customers, MKCA designed an offset block incorporating both white Cristallo quartzite and ice gray marble. The design became a unique opportunity to introduce a variety of materials, hide less aesthetic necessities (namely, sockets) and introduce chairs in a further oversized block.

In the ladies ‘ room, which, according to Chen, “should always be an event,” similar care was taken to hide unattractive electrical and ventilation units. The LED galley lighting radiates under a suspended wooden ceiling and descends from the subtly curved Venetian plaster walls. It is an elegant treatment that complements the vanity and The Bold and figurative Cassiopeia marble sconces designed by Lindsey Adelman Studio.

Careful refinement is a registered trademark of MKCA. At the Carnegie Hill project, moments of carpentry-material and thematic-can be observed at all scales. They turn a maze into a sanctuary.

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