Getting the blessing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission can be a tricky thing. Typically, your best bet is to go contextual: stick with historic materials and keep the modern ornamentation to a minimum. That is clearly not the approach that SYSTEMarchitects‘ Jeremy Edmiston took for a parametrically designed Tribeca townhouse in search of facelift.
The existing two-story structure 187 Franklin is not historically significant, but since it sits within a historic district, Edmiston didn’t have carte blanche for the owners requested two story addition and setback penthouse. While the architect nods to Tribeca’s history with a primarily brick facade, he doesn’t try to replicate the building’s neighbors. At all. Instead, he assembles a new facade in such a way that it makes the new townhouse appear as if it is entirely engulfed in flames. Home-y? Maybe not. Interesting? Undeniably. Landmark Preservation Commission approved? Unanimously.
That approval came back in 2011 and now the Tribeca Citizen is reporting that the project “is back.” Edminston told AN that construction is already underway and that the project is slated to be completed in December.
The structure’s parametric facade frees bricks from their expected pattern and weaves them into what appear as dancing flames. Between these “flames” are angled windows intended to bring in light while preserving privacy for the family of four. Each floor also gets a steel, mesh-like balcony.