Typical of the 1980s New York building boom, this high-rise had low ceilings and inexpensive materials and construction, which were aging badly. But it was near Central Park, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and fabulous shopping; it also had glass exteriors , generous floor space, and only two apartments on each floor.


The Italian client knew that this Manhattan second home was a wise investment that would soar in value after a complete makeover.


Because his brilliant long-time architect, Nicola Resta, lived in Italy and needed a New York - based architect to execute and contribute design ideas and closely supervise the site, I was brought in as co-architect /project manager for what would become a tremendously gratifying job.


A real gut renovation was essential to constructing a palace from scratch within the huge, empty shell. Keeping only the original layout, we re-conceived the entire space with luxury in mind, and with scrupulous attention to materials and details.


We selected only the finest materials and fixtures (a Varenna kitchen, Waterworks bathroom fixtures with opulent marble) and, by reconfiguring closets, doors, and cabinets, and adding dramatic custom lighting, we achieved our goal.


Glass terrace doors and windows were leveled and replaced with acoustic/thermal panes to soften the noise of Midtown traffic.


The low ceilings were raised  by a series of illusions to match the ample layout: the foyer s kitchen door was closed off, and an archway created in its far wall drawing attention away from the ceilings to the huge sweep of space from foyer to the very end of the apartment and making the grand living/dining room seem even grander.


To complete the illusion we added custom crown molding and smoothed the edges (where walls and ceilings met) in the living room, then actually lowered the ceiling in the dining area and in the long, narrow hall for recessed lighting.


Finally, the apartment's elegance was extended to the exterior elevator hallway. We gleefully removed its old wall-to-wall mirror and popcorn ceiling, added crown molding, a new framed mirror, and a marble floor. Sleek signage for the door completed what was now the entry into an important residence.


Nicola Resta, the client's architect in Italy for 30 years, had added an American triumph to his portfolio.


Co-architect/project manager: Giusi Mastro

Architect/designer: Nicola Resta