This is the fourteenth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours!
Picture this: a spacious and inviting apartment snug in the heart of Chelsea. Its crisp, white walls and warm ash wood flooring provides an impeccably balanced sense of trendiness and coziness. West-facing windows offer a glimpse of sunsets on the Hudson River from the 15th floor of the historic co-op, located at 201 West 16th Street.
The only catch? It’s 400 square feet, the legal minimum size for a Chelsea apartment.
“Spacious” and “400 square feet” may sound oxymoronic, but Architecture Workshop’s Robert Garneau, AIA, LEEP AP, made it work. And the “Pivot apartment,” as it is called, ended up working for him in return: His Brooklyn-based firm won an AIANY Honor Award for Interior Architecture this year.
Owners Paul and Billie Andersson had two design parameters that Garneau had to meet: The apartment should sleep up to six adults and provide enough space to comfortably seat 10 to 12 guests for Thanksgiving. What Garneau created easily met those demands and then went the extra mile.
The Pivot apartment is so named for its pièce de résistance: a moveable wall in the living room that reveals an expansive but intimate bedroom space when opened. The room includes a queen-sized murphy bed and an expandable couch that can accommodate up to four adults, as well as a TV and generously sized closet. And there’s still room to walk to the kitchen for a midnight snack. The interior wall, which doubles as the closet, is fabricated with the same ash wood as the floor, creating a functionally sound-proof space. A sliding door in the kitchen can fully enclose the bedroom, making it light-proof as well.
“I wanted to create a cottage or cabin feeling for the bedroom,” explained Garneau, an impressive feat in a metropolis like Manhattan.
That warm, homey feeling is carried over into the bathroom, which is tiled with travertine, illuminated by recessed ceiling LEDs, and separated from the rest of the apartment by a mahogany door. The bathroom can accommodate up to two people through the inclusion of a glass pane that pivots out from the wall—essentially a European-style shower. The floor is imperceptibly pitched to allow water to run into the floor drain and mirrored dark wood cabinetry provides more than enough storage space in this diminutive bathroom.
The living room and kitchen radiate a trendy feel with white walls, gray kitchen cabinetry, and stainless steel fixtures. The kitchen is another marvel of ingenuity, with a discrete fridge and freezer tucked in underneath the counter top and a kitchen table that can be raised to double as additional counter space.
“You’ve got to know a few things about this apartment to live here,” said Andersson, referring to the multiplicity of movable parts and hidden storage spaces that make up this compact home. But those little innovative surprises are ultimately what make Pivot such a delight.
“It’s like a big toy,” said Garneau. “This project was so much fun to make.”
About the author: Anna Gibertini is a freelance journalist based in the New York metropolitan area. She contributes regularly to The ArtBlog, a Philadelphia-based arts and culture publication, and has had work published in Charleston, South Carolina’s Post & Courier and Syracuse, New York’s The Post Standard. She recently graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s in arts journalism.