Skyhouse Penthouse by David Hotson Architect

Location: New York City, USA
Photo courtesy: Eric Laignel
Description:

Skyhouse is a house in the sky, a residential penthouse located at the summit of one of the earliest surviving skyscrapers in New York City.

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The four story penthouse structure, which had never been used as a residence, was designed in 1896 as an archetypal hip-roofed house form situated twenty-one stories above the street.  In the intervening decades this penthouse has been gradually surrounded by the astonishing vertical cityscape of Lower Manhattan. From the private elevator vestibule, lit by a skylight which frames the apex of the adjacent skyscraper sixty stories above, the ramped entrance hall passes through the facetted shaft of the stairwell.

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The original riveted steel structure –among the very earliest steel frames used in skyscraper construction in New York City- threads through the stairwell, slipping past the seamless glass bridge to reach the glass floor of the attic four stories above the entrance level.

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In the main living space the original steel frame was reconfigured to allow the space to ascend to the underside of the hipped penthouse roof four stories above.  The 50-foot-tall living space tapers upward past a mid-level balcony suspended in the steel framework, to an inclined glass wall which encloses one end of the at the attic level –and provides a vertiginous view down to the main level four stories below.

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At the other end of the attic, a circular hole cut into a similar outward sloping glass partition provides the entrance to the slide.  The mirror polished tubular stainless steel slide provides for a quick descent –sweeping over a bedroom, out through a window, and over the stair, before coiling down through the library ceiling to arrive at the flared rectangular exit opposite the penthouse entrance.

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All of the spaces of this residence exploit its situation above the Manhattan cityscape with vistas channeled through all four levels of the penthouse structure at a range of scale to capture framed views of iconic structures in the surrounding three-dimensional cityscape. While the true nature of these spaces can only be revealed to a visitor encountering them in the experienced present, the images re-presented here provide a glimpse of the experience of this house in the sky above the city of New York.

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