Our friend Diego Del Pino at Ruinart invited my wife and I to a reception at their lounge in the Frieze Art Fair in New York. Frieze had a much calmer air than other art fairs this year. I could credit it to the expansive open space and the diffused light of the white tents. Or maybe it was the fact that we knew we'd end our art walk with our favorite champagne. Probably both.
This can be a tricky calculation. My rule of thumb is to consider five years the tipping point.
If you think you will be staying in place for five years or more, go ahead and make it your dream project. You can't predict what people will like in five years anyway.
If, on the other hand, you expect to move sooner than that, keep the unique features and luxury upgrades for your future, longer term home. A home that is more of a blank canvas will appeal to a wider audience of prospective buyers.
Everyone wants to put their personal touch on their home. Think of any renovation as an investment into the future value of the house.
The Obama Library's first public renderings were unveiled this week by the architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien. I have long admired their dedication and craft.
Whenever I see their names I remember a speech that Billie Tsien gave at my graduation from PennDesign. It was moving, passionate, and full of optimism. Afterwards I thanked her for the inspirational and energizing talk. The funny thing is, I don't remember a word she said but I remember the FEELING.
That is what architecture is about for me. It is not what the walls are made of or what color faucets you have. Architecture's power is in the feeling it imparts. It hits a nerve in a deeper part of us. It is an atmosphere that I seek to form in each project. Even if you walk away not being able to recall distinct elements (as I couldn't recall any particular statements from that speech), just being touched and having that experience is enough.
If I had my hands on Chris Rock's notebook, could I get on stage and kill? I doubt it. There is more to it than what is on paper. The most common question on Houzz photos is usually "What color paint is that?", which leads me to think a lot of people do imagine that knowing the components could generate the same result. It isn't so. There is something in Rock's delivery and attitude that is part of the comedy, there is something in Tsien's passion and experience that is part of what made her talk so memorable, and I like to think, there is something in my work which goes beyond the sum of its parts to make a work that moves you.
Combining or joining apartments can be a great way to upgrade your home and stay in the neighborhood you love.
Each situation is unique and the best thing to do is to call an architect to give you an assessment of the possibilities. Analyzing the current layout, building structure, and plumbing locations are just a few of the things to take into consideration. If you are at the end of the hall, your co-op or condo may also sell you the hallway to make one big space (like we did here)!
See our online resource What You Need To Know When Combining Apartments - Insider Advice for more details!
Ask yourself these three questions:
First, are the homes on the market unsuitable for your needs (aesthetically, in quality, size, special features, etc.)?
Second, do you have the patience to undertake building a custom home? It takes an average of 2-4 years to complete a custom home. This includes architectural design, zoning department approvals, and construction.
Third, do you have the budget for a custom home? Understand that besides the hard costs of land and construction, there are additional soft costs for the professional services of architects, engineers, landscape and interior designers, to name a few. This is an investment that can create a much more valuable home than a cookie cutter development.
If you answered YES to all three questions, designing a custom home is definitely your best option. Call me and let's get started!
Got a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I always enjoy learning how other creative people's process works, particularly in fields very different from my own. Last week, I attended a 'backstage look' at how New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht imagined and put together his new work, "Sing-Sing-Sing".
One thing I love about dance as an art form is that it is physical - no words, no translation necessary.....just like architecture. You feel it or you don't. Daniel gave us an intimate portrait of how the ideas come together, what was going on in his life at the time, and how the dancers interactions fueled the work. Its funny to imagine that a dance piece meant for an ensemble moving swiftly around the stage was conceived (and rehearsed) in a small NYC studio apartment.
The event was put on by Youth America Grand Prix, which is an organization that provides scholarships and many opportunities for budding dancers. No less than 14 NYCB dancers and hundreds of professional dancers around the world count themselves as YAGP alumni.
You may also like - New York City Ballet YPC Rooftop Party
By Sabrina Fierman, New York's Little Elves - Fine Interior Cleaning
You are nearing the home stretch of your renovation, discussing move in dates, punch lists, and visualizing the time when you can actually sleep in your new or upgraded home. Thoughts of candle-lit baths, dinners, or just the thrill of unpacking into your new closets are dancing around in your head. And just then, another thought intrudes: the dust, the dirt! How will it ever get clean? Will the contractor’s broom clean be enough? And what does ‘broom clean’ even mean? Will I be able to unpack or have to start cleaning?!
"Even with a small apartment under 750 square feet, a house keeper is not in the habit of going up a ladder to dust off crown moldings and remove drawers to clean behind them. Is there even a vacuum on site before the movers arrive?"
You are likely over budget and thought this renovation would be completed long ago. The last thing you want to contemplate is yet another trade to hire, and just like that more money added to your budget. Why not send your housekeeper in to clean, you think. She can bring a friend to help her, and everyone wins, right? This is pragmatic thinking but will not have the results you hope to achieve, which is a clean, dust free environment into which you can happily unpack. Here is why.
Dust is circulating in the air, and everything is coated with fine particulate construction dust. It is on everything. Even if you have sealed off closets and kitchen cabinets, these areas are not hermetically sealed and dust is insidious and migrates no matter how well you or your contractor have sealed off areas. Dust is on walls, ceilings, tops of doors and crown moldings, vents, light fixtures, in closets, inside and behind drawers, and let’s not forget the bathrooms, one of which may have been dedicated to contractor use. This job is simply too big for a housekeeper. Even with a small apartment under 750 square feet, a house keeper is not in the habit of going up a ladder to dust off crown moldings, wipe down window frames, remove drawers to clean behind them and, does your vacuum even have an attachment to allow for vacuuming out the inside the radiator covers!? Is there even a vacuum on site before the movers arrive?
After investing so much time, money and care into your renovation, you will want to ensure that it is not only clean and ready for living, but that whomever cleans it is familiar with how to clean it. Perhaps you have Venetian plaster walls, all new Rocky Mountain hardware, unsealed wide-plank wood flooring, or extensive and detailed closet systems. Even if your finishes are more pedestrian, a post-construction cleaning of a home requires a dedicated team of cleaners familiar with delicate surfaces and comfortable with a top to bottom, detailed cleaning. The order in which things are cleaned, the existence of new and possibly delicate surfaces, details that might require chopsticks covered with rags to get into small crevasses, ceiling high hat lighting that will show dust and fingerprints, vacuuming ceilings, dusting walls, removing finger prints, dusting new light fixtures... A bootie-clad crew, trained and experienced, bonded and insured, and equipped with the right kind of supplies, is really what you need for this level of cleaning. And, don’t forget the windows.
Moreover, If anyone in your family is very young or old, has respiratory issues, or allergies to dust, the need for a post-construction cleaning becomes even more essential. Circulating construction dust can take weeks to settle. To help expedite its removal we run HEPA filter air machines during our cleaning. We also make them available for longer term rental though we urge clients with any kind of health issues to purchase HEPA air purifiers for long-term use in bedrooms.
A professional post-construction cleaning transforms a job site into a livable home. It protects your residence by respecting the time, care and investment you put into making your new home. Your family’s health benefits from this level of cleaning. We have been eradicating dust from New Yorkers’ homes for over 25 years. And, we cannot over emphasis how essential it is for you to put this final level of care into your home.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
By Deborah Gimelson, Brown Harris Stevens
People think that hiring a real estate attorney in New York City is a simple thing, but this is no longer the case. The easy, smooth transaction is something of a dinosaur, with almost every deal these days presenting an issue. Your attorney needs to be experienced, proactive and responsive. Here are some questions and things to consider to make sure you are hiring the right person for your particular situation.
How do I find a real estate attorney?
Ask people you trust, or people who have bought and sold a lot of real estate in NYC, for referrals. Ask your broker for recommendations. Do not dive into the white pages on this one – that is akin to gambling. Narrow it down to three and interview each one. The following questions can guide you to a good decision.
How long has the attorney been practicing?
Your attorney should have covered some career ground. Ask him his experience with co-ops, condos, single family houses, or whatever pertains to you. Ask what was the most difficult issue they ever had to address and resolve. Ask also for the profile of their typical client – by price range, income, industry - so you can determine if you fit the profile or not. There may be attorneys who specialize, for instance, in first time buyers or investments, and others who handle a lot of clients from a certain field like finance or entertainment.
What and how do they charge?
People think that attorneys charge too much, but the truth is a lot more money has been lost in real estate transactions by NOT hiring an attorney or hiring the wrong one. I had a client use his brother as counsel, a nice guy who had just passed the bar the week before. We spent an entire day waiting for the paperwork to arrive because he did not order it in advance of the transaction. Everything was subject to harsh rush fees, especially bank documents. The standard rate for an attorney is around $2500-3500 and most work for a flat fee. If your attorney charges by the hour, think twice and ask if a flat fee is possible. Ask if you will still be charged even when a closing does not take place. Some very good firms will not charge you unless a deal goes through. When you consider what you are paying for NYC real estate and the problems that can be avoided by a seasoned attorney, almost any amount is small.
Has your attorney done many deals in the building or neighborhood and what kind of atmosphere is created in the law office?
This may not seem essential, but an attorney well-versed in polished Upper East Side townhouse practices may not understand what is happening with a one-bedroom in Harlem. Some of the larger firms have people knowledgeable in most areas of the city. Smaller, local attorneys – found these days mostly in Brooklyn or other outer boroughs - can often get the job done because of long held neighborhood connections that a larger firm may not have. They can also be quirky in how they do business. Some people find it especially charming to walk into an office lined with old record albums - some want a more traditional atmosphere. Ask the attorney about local experience and general office ambiance. Get specific.
Ask how accessible he or she will be during the transaction.
Many attorneys have capable assistants who read and process all documents. Ask how much of the actual work will be done by the primary attorney and how much of it will be handled by their assistants. This is not usually a problem, but you want to know you can get your attorney on the phone or over email. Make sure you will have the access you require. This need differs from person to person and even deal to deal.
In addition, you can contact the Bar Association in NYC and the Better Business Bureau. Make sure no complaints or litigations involve your attorney. Some even have Yelp reviews. All in all, there are many attorneys to choose from. Doing your homework to find an attorney that best suits you, will be time and money well spent.
Happy buying and selling!
This year I got to fulfill a long time dream to visit Casa Barragán , Luis Barragán's home in Mexico City.
As an architecture student, Luis Barragán was my inspiration when it came to understanding the power of color as an essential design tool. Color affects feeling and directly impacts our physical well being.
Casa Barragán, the architect’s own home and studio, is special not just for Barragán’s masterful use of color, but also for how he balanced the complex relationships of space into a cohesive home. Privacy and view, social settings for large dinners are steps away from monastic corners to reflect.
I visited Casa Barragán in March 2016. One thing that immediately struck me was how the house is situated in a busy section of Mexico City. It appears in photos as if it is situated in a serene and secluded rural locale. As one walks through the house today the lush views appear just as they did in 1947. From the street, it appears as a blank wall with a muted yellow entry gate. Behind the yellow gate is a gem of a home. This is the genius of Barragán.
Inside unfolds a symphony of space, view, light, and form. The home flows like a song. A massive double height reading room with a giant picture window facing tall trees and vegetation turn to a cantilevered wood stair that stands as a sculptural element in the room, leading towards a private space where he listened to records.
Architects experience our work through the representation of drawings, models, and photographs. Once it is built and ready to be inhabited, we leave. I thought of this when I saw a mirror globe perched in the corner of many rooms. I hypothesize that it was Barragán’s way of experiencing his design once removed through an abstracted filter of the mirror globe. Inspired, I visited the gift shop and purchased a globe of my own.
Make sure you book your visit in advance! The house is available to visit only during tour times. I saw people get turned away who did not have reservations. And if you go, please tell me what you liked most about it!
By Rory McCreesh, DUCE Construction
Art is an investment on many levels. It has emotional, sentimental and fiscal value that can last for years or lifetimes. It is thus important to consider the installation of the art as carefully as the art itself.
The physical constraints when hanging an artwork depend on a few factors. There are two quick questions that you can ask yourself before you make any holes in a wall - How heavy is my piece of art?, and What is the makeup of the wall that I am attaching this to? If your art is clearly on the lighter side, under 20 lbs, then it can be screwed straight into the wall. More often than not though, the piece is on the heavier side, 25 lbs or heavier and must have extra support.
Walls are usually composed of drywall covering a sturdy framework. This framework is the ideal place to attach the art and can be found using a stud finder. If there are not any studs in the location where you want to hang your art, you will have to add additional plywood pieces (called blocking) to bridge between the studs. If you are redesigning a home and know in advance that you will have heavy art it is beneficial to think forward and design the blocking into the wall. If your walls are made of brick you can drill straight into the wall using a drill and a masonry bit. Be sure to drill into the mortar and not the brick itself. Another important factor to consider when hanging art is its environment. An appropriate temperature, humidity and light within the space all contribute to the longevity of the art. The ideal temperature recommended by museums and insurance companies is between 65-75 oF, and the ideal humidity between 55% to 65%. These numbers should be maintained even while you are absent from the home; a digital thermo-hygrometer monitors both temperature and humidity and can help to keep the environment consistent.
Both interior and exterior light can have a profound effect on your artwork. The UV rays found in sunlight can fade and damage your art. Placing the art on a non-sunny wall or framing it in UV-blocking glass can lessen the effects of the UV rays. The interior lights should be low lumen lighting. LED bulbs and incandescent lights have the appropriate lumen level (55 lux or below).
If you follow these guidelines you will have long lasting art pieces. Enjoy the view!
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October is Architecture and Design Month in New York City. Every day there are special tours, films, open houses, and events happening in every borough. In recent years, I've visited and volunteered in many unique places across the city including the Grand Masons Lodge, Grace Church, and Raimund Abraham's Austrian Cultural Center.
Check out the Archtober calendar for more info: http://archtober.org/calendar/
After years of answering the same questions, I decided to put the basics of hiring an architect - and describing the building process from beginning to end, into book form.
Architects are in a mysterious zone where most people admire architects but few know what we really do. This book starts by describing what we do, how we're trained, and most importantly, how our vision and expertise can improve your life.
You'll learn where to look for architects, what questions to ask them, how to determine who is right for you, how architects charge for their services, and much more!
I am offering this book as a free download here.
In support of my passion for the beautiful artistry of the NYCB, I hosted a rooftop party celebrating my fellow members of the Young Patrons Circle.
World renowned Ruinart Champagne generously sponsored our event with magnums of Blanc de Blanc. Thank you, Diego Del Pino and Lacey Burke! It marked the first time Ruinart has participated with the YPC. We hope it is the first of many!
Thank you to Colby Gambino of NYCB and Tara Frankel of The Yard for their graceful event coordination.
Special thanks to NYCB dancers Sterling Hyltin, Clarie Kretzschmar, Tyler Angle, and Ralph Ippolito for joining us!
My favorite find during the Wanted Design 2016 preview was Tomnuk's Lune light fixture. It is an elegant fixture where you control the aperture of light by 'eclipsing' one disc against another. The judges agreed and it was the winning design for Wanted Design's 2016 Launch Pad.
Andrew Mikhael Architect of New York, NY
Awarded Best Of Houzz 2016
Over 35 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,
Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World
New York, USA, January 22, 2016 – Andrew Mikhael Architect of New York, NY has won “Best Of Design and Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The innovative architecture firm was chosen by the more than 35 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.
The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2015. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.
“I love that we can enrich people’s daily lives through design. Thank you to everyone involved!” Andrew Mikhael
“Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented and service-oriented professionals” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re so pleased to recognize Andrew Mikhael Architect, voted one of our “Best Of Houzz” professionals by our enormous community of homeowners and design enthusiasts actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.
Increasingly, I'm working with clients with an artistic background. I find myself talking to people over and over again about Dan and Priya's short film - "Bathtub", that I had to just share it here. Enjoy the couture fashion show turned one woman holi fest................