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Metal Shutter Houses, 524 West 19th Street

Between Tenth Avenue & Eleventh Avenue

Carter Horsley
Reviewed by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of CityRealty.com.
 

The elegant and handsome Metal Shutter Building at 524 West 19th Street was designed by Shigeru Ban and built in 2007 by Jeff Spiritos, the president of HEEA Development L.L.C., and Klemens Gasser, a Chelsea art dealer.

It has a very prime location in West Chelsea flanked by Frank O. Gehry’s sail-like, IAC headquarters building and Annabelle Seldorf’s terracotta-banded 520 West 19th Street, and across the street from Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue with its broadly curbed façade of differently angled and sized windows.

Ban’s 11-story building has only 9 residential condominium apartments. It was completed in 2011.

Bottom Line

With its motorized, perforated metal garage-like shutters, residents can change the building’s look, or skin at what one observer commented was “the epicenter of modern architecture” referring to the neighboring buildings by Frank O. Gehry and Jean Nouvel in this very prime Chelsea location.  It is also close to the High Line Elevated Park.

Description

In a December 30, 2007 article in The New York Times, Suzanne Slesin, the well-known writer on interior design, said that when she visited the building she was “swept away by the sheer ingenuity of the scheme and the opening and closing, appearing and disappearing metal shutters in an extraordinary architectural ballet.”

She added “the project, in which Mr. Ban collaborated with the New York architect Dean Maltz, is, at least for me, a fantasy of modern living: a pure and yet high-tech space that can be open to the air and views. On the inside, nothing will interrupt the smoothness of the surfaces.” 

The building’s main façade is divided into three bays and each has three layers:  the perforated metal shutters, a low glass railing just behind the shutters, and the large, motorized window wall that can be folded up.

There is art gallery space on the ground floor.

Amenities

The building has a doorman.

Apartments

The lower level of the sixth floor duplex has a 46-foot-long double-height living room, a 24-foot-long entrance gallery, a 19-foot-long dining area, a 21-foot-long kitchen/breakfast room and two bedrooms with small balconies. 

A three-bedroom duplex unit has a 15-foot-wide, double-height living room with a 28-foot-long open kitchen with an island and a 12-foot-wide library with a balcony on the lower level and two bedrooms on the upper level, one with a balcony.

History

The project began in 2005, according to an article at http://www.archrecord.construction.com by Naomi R. Pollock, “when gallery owner Klemens Gasser, impressed with Ban’s Nomadic Museum — a traveling structure on view in New York that year made of stacked shipping containers and showcasing photographs by artist Gregory Colbert — contacted the architect for a potential two-story building renovation. The scope of the job changed when the High Line’s refurbishment triggered rezoning in the surrounding West Chelsea area and local property owners were granted special development rights. Taking advantage of the revised legal restrictions, the client decided to team with a developer and rebuild instead.”

The tall white lacquer doors of the full-height storage in the dining/library areas of the apartments conceal HVAC ducts and plumbing chases, the article said, adding that “by concentrating the mechanicals here, and by embedding the sliding-door tracks and recessed downlights directly into the slab, the design team was able to eliminate the need for a plenum, which enabled maximum room height.” 

A 2011 article at cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com by Sarah Kershaw noted that the penthouse was “snapped up immediately after it went on the market in 2007,” but the “deal fell apartment in early 2010.” 

“Before the closing,” the article continued, “the buyer had already remodeled the three-bedroom four-bathroom apartment, which has about 3,300 square feet inside and almost 2,000 square feet on terraces, balconies and a roof deck. The remodeling lent a decidedly traditional aesthetic to the minimalist space. This was not exactly reflective of Mr. Ban’s clean, high-tech style, which draws on traditional Japanese architecture and the International Style of Modernism.”

Ban and Maltz then restored the original details, the article said, “and added some new ones,” nothing that “they replaced, for example, a wood-burning fireplace with a colorfully decorated flue that rises from the hearth to the 20-foot ceiling” and removed extensive paneling.”

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