Tour a Union Square West Duplex Penthouse with Glitzy Interiors



Union Square West Duplex Home TourUnion Square Park has become such a juggernaut, with its well-trod paths and bustling farmers’ market, that it’s easy to forget its periods of relative shabbiness during past eras. But it was never uncool—whether during the years when Andy Warhol’s Factory was in residence, or when hip nightclubs and restaurants like M.K. and Coffee Shop held court.

Much longer ago, in 1870, 15 Union Square West even served as the splendiferous new headquarters of Tiffany & Co., only later to become a more pedestrian Amalgamated Bank and gain notoriety in the 1950s, when a chunk of its ornate cast-iron façade came loose and killed a pedestrian on the sidewalk below.

As a result, the building was stripped of all character and jailed inside a bland box of beige bricks and plain rectangular windows. Amalgamated eventually sold the structure to developers, who built an apartment tower on top of the original edifice—six new levels crowned by a sublime 3,000-square-foot three-bedroom duplex penthouse—and wrapped everything in a tinted curtain wall of floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the park.

Union Square Overlay

The glitzy interiors, however, fell short of their inspired park-front location. Wood floors were ebonized to a glossy, almost gaudy sheen, and kitchen islands rested on cartoonish turned columns. “It was all very Philippe Starck,” says Belgian-born architect and designer Francis D’Haene, taking a tongue-in-cheek jab at his fellow French-speaking contemporary. “I seriously don’t even know where you’d shop for that stuff.” As principal of the bicoastal firm D’Apostrophe Design, D’Haene has built a reputation for cutting-edge modernism, collaborating on a host of memorable private and commercial projects, such as the Bridgehampton home of art dealer Dominique Lévy and the SoHo boutique of fashion designer Rick Owens.

“Clients in fashion and art come with strong ideas,” D’Haene says—something that often runs toward flashy exhibitionism in cities like New York. But D’Haene was trained in Europe, where design is generally more subdued. (In his native country, he notes, “There are no McMansions.”) Even so, he had to pull some dramatic punches with the gently rigorous redesign of the building’s penthouse, which originated with his client’s desire to redecorate and ultimately ended up being nothing short of an extreme makeover. Plumbing wasn’t moved, but a flying steel stair got resurfaced in oak. New seven-inch-wide oak planks now cover the floors, and gray-stained wood clads the elevator vestibule’s walls. “Since most of the exterior walls are giant windows,” D’Haene adds, the interiors needed to stand up to the staggering views of the Empire State Building and most of the rest of New York.

To soften all the glass in the living room, D’Haene swapped ugly blackout shades for sheer linen graphite curtains, which complement the linen on the L-shaped Flexform sectional. (“Most good linens are from Belgium,” the designer intones shyly. “I just can’t help it.”) Sleek accent pieces range from Foscarini’s contemporary take on a classic arched floor lamp to wall-mount reading lamps in a raw-steel finish from Apparatus. “Nothing should feel cheap when you touch it,” proclaims D’Haene, although he’s not always all business, either. Witty touches range from a kitchen chandelier made from recycled fluorescent tubes encircling a cluster of halogen bulbs to a Knotty Bubbles pendant by Lindsey Adelman at the top of the stairs. It’s precisely this sly sort of cunning and craft that might come to define luxury in the future—like Tiffany & Co. circa 2025. 

A version of this article appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Glass Act.

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Property of Note Listing

15 Kings Dock Road, Garrison, NY
Enjoy the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer at this 9-acre estate offering awe-inspiring vistas, stunning passive architecture and a unique private deep-water dock on the Hudson River. Sited to take full advantage of the amazing scenery, the three-bedroom residence is a triumph of modernist design featuring airy open-plan living spaces and vast window walls that dramatically frame the blissful water and mountain views. The setting, boasting ¼ mile of frontage along the river, also hosts a two-bedroom guest house, a striking Greek temple/playhouse overlooking the river and a detached garage.



View more details about 15 Kings Dock Road
Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


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Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

Laura Kaehler

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Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

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Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

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