Manhattan gets its first gold-brick building
This spring, Manhattan will get the first hand-laid gilded bronze brick building at 196 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side.
The 94-room residential unit is the result of a collaboration between Adam Rolston at INC (who developed the interior design and façade) and Ben Shaoul, founder of Magnum Real Estate Group. Both saw the potential for a more textured building in an area known for its edgier, artsier vibe.
“We felt that a traditional glass structure didn’t mesh with the surroundings,” says Rolston, who looked for a material humble enough to belong in the neighborhood that had been home to waves of immigrants over decades, but luxurious enough to attract a contemporary resident.
He found such a candidate in artisanal Spanish bricks infused with gold dust that will gradually oxidize and become darker over time. Produced by the 130-year-old manufacturer Cerámica La Covadonga, the bricks form the instantly recognizable lower exterior building façade and were flown in from the Spanish village of Cadaqués (also known for its anchovies, and a source of inspiration to the painter Salvador Dalí). They symbolize the eclectic and transformational nature of the neighborhood.
The building shares a city block with the ever-popular Katz’s Deli, referenced in Seinfeld and The Jim Gaffigan Show episodes. “Katz’s was the birthplace of the classic corned beef sandwich, knishes, smoked fish, and Manischewitz matzos,” says Rolston, reflecting on the distinctly old-school New York nature of the block and surroundings. Over the years, the neighborhood became a mecca for alternative art dealers, indie fashion retailers, and renowned smaller restaurants.
The interiors of the apartments, which range from studios ($965,000) to four-bedrooms ($6,500,000), use warm materials with a rich, natural, refined, and rough look all at once, using concrete, bleached walnut, acid-etched Eramosa limestone, and Nero Marquina black marble with its classic white veining. Residents also can enjoy a two-story, 30,000 square-foot flagship Equinox Fitness Club & Spa and a furnished rooftop terrace with sundeck and outdoor kitchen. “We wanted the rooftop to have a community type of feeling that brings the entire residency together,” says Shaoul.
The glowing exterior of the building, designed by Ismael Leyva Architects, has a rather “muscular character, reminiscent of the workshops and manufacturing structures that once dominated the area,” says Rolston.
Sixty-thousand bricks were used for the building, each infused with 24K-gold dust. A Midas touch if there ever was one.
By Charu Suri. Originally published in Architectural Digest.