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Six Books Per Square Foot

How does a minimalist architect deal with a client’s truckload of printed matter? By building a very long bookshelf, for starters.


Photographs by Floto + Warner

“It was a very unattractive space,” architect Steve Blatz says of the original 1,200-square-foot Soho loft bought by his client two years ago. A dropped ceiling above the kitchen, a loft bed, a bad paint job—“oppressive” was the operative word. But the client, who works in publishing, came bearing her own enlivening décor: twin collections of books (around 7,500 of them) and art (a whopping 250 pieces, including works by Diane Arbus and Hiroshi Sugimoto). “I had a client who is a maximalist,” he says. “I am a minimalist.” And yet it was a good marriage. In Blatz’s hands, the book collection became an architectural element that would divide and conquer the vastness of the loft. The great wall of books was constructed using prefab industrial-steel shelving with custom-made metal covers for a sleeker look. Despite its bulk, the bookshelves allow natural light and fresh air to stream into the bedroom, located just behind the wall like a snug alcove in a personal library.

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