In 2005, a new home was chosen for the Heckscher Foundation for Children?s administrative offices, a neo-Georgian townhouse built by architect William Trowbridge for his family in 1902. While its exterior was charming, the structure?s dark, cramped, interior had suffered several ill-conceived renovations over its lifetime and could not fulfill the day-to-day needs of the foundation staff.
The interior was entirely re-imagined using a plan that cut a dramatic shaft of daylight from the ground floor to the rooftop, transforming the once stoic structure into a modern and efficient workplace.
Inside, the building?s activity?including offices, a boardroom, conference area and an indoor/outdoor reception space?is choreographed around this sculptural gesture of light and space, and the huge glass volume of offices appears to hover weightlessly above the entry.
Preserved elements from the original townhouse, such as its elaborate wood windows and ornamental fireplaces, create unexpected juxtapositions of time and place when set against the sharp new lines of zebrawood paneling, white-painted steel and taut glass.
The design not only succeeds in redefining the possibilities for a traditional townhouse interior, it also infuses both the foundation and its building with new relevance. The design not only succeeds in redefining the possibilities for a traditional townhouse interior, it also infuses both the foundation and its building with new relevance.