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A Prewar Restoration on Central Park South

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Firm Leeser Architecture
Completed 2012
Specialty “Inventing new meaning out of an existing context,” says Leeser.
Upcoming A biosphere in Abu Dhabi; the largest shopping mall in Bangkok

Andrianna Shamaris had a straightforward request when hunting for an apartment in 2007: “I told the broker I wanted to look out at a tree.” After months of touring apartments that overlooked other buildings, she finally found a fifteenth-floor two-bedroom with staggering views of Central Park. She had more trees to look at than she could count. Never mind that the prewar apartment was pretty run-down—what brokers term “estate” condition. Shamaris recalled an ultramodern apartment she had seen, designed by Brooklyn-based architect Thomas Leeser. She called him in to help.

Her instructions were to create a clean, crisp space that didn’t completely erase the apartment’s original character. “I wanted this to be more of a restoration, not just a renovation,” says Shamaris, who runs an eponymous store in Soho that specializes in earthy furniture and accessories from Southeast Asia. As a result, Leeser created a space that “has three directions.”

“It’s a careful balance between the materiality of these Southeast Asian things that she collected, the classical atmosphere of the existing building, and a modern, minimal, clean look and functionality,” says Leeser.

He demolished walls to open the space up and modernized with amenities like a glass Valcucine kitchen and central air-conditioning. The design team reproduced moldings that were unsalvageable, reinstalled existing crystal doorknobs on new resin doors, and uncovered the original cast-iron radiators. Shamaris retiled the foyer, kitchen, and bathroom with custom concrete— “Why would I buy tiles when the ones I make are so much nicer?” she asks—and added bold texture by manufacturing her own full-height doors from weathered teak with a shell inlay.

Illustration by Mat Williams


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