Lofty Ideals: HS2 Architecture

Thomas Hut and Jane Sachs have designed their share of lofts, working more than two decades in New York City as the principal architects and owners at HS2 Architecture. But when presented with the opportunity to transform a penthouse loft on Wooster Street in SoHo, they knew they had a special project.

“We’ve done a lot of loft conversions,” comments Sachs. “But this one was filled with incredibly beautiful spaces.” Not only was it a penthouse loft, with exposed brick and huge wooden structural beams, it also included a 4,000-square-foot rooftop terrace. The clients wanted a home not just for the immediate future, but something they, as a family, could grow into.

“All successful projects are a collaboration between an involved client and the architect. Somewhere between the dance, you arrive at solutions that no one expected would be there,” Sachs remarks. In this case, a key solution was an element right upon entering the home: a huge skylight that infuses the loft with natural light and draws the eyes skyward. “It’s really the drama of what it does to create the unexpected, of having so much daylight in a New York loft,” marvels Sachs. The hallway/atrium, with its 21-foot ceiling, becomes a multi-purpose area in and of itself. It can be an overflow gathering spot for dinner party guests or a perfect place for toddlers to roll about with toys.

Sachs notes that it’s a very grand space, and that “They knew they wanted that large dramatic feature. Within that space we try and reserve some of the old New York loft and contrast that with a modern minimal design.”

One wall features exposed industrial columns and the beam of the original building. On the opposite wall, sleek wooden stairs float within a glass-walled stairwell, leading to a modern walnut walkway that opens to the rooftop garden.

“When you’re on the balcony going to the outside there is this whole sculptural injection in the space,” explains Sachs. “It’s very dramatic.”

And beyond this area, is where all the living takes place. The clients knew they wanted areas for time together as a family and time for solitude amid the busyness of life in the city as well as areas for dinner parties and entertaining guests. “One of the challenges in a loft is to create this separation between public and private spaces and not lose a sense of the loft,” Sachs adds. “We have to get this all in there and make it work.”

And make it work they do. In this case, a hallway also acts as a wall and behind that wall is 1,800 square feet devoted to private space – two kids’ bedrooms with a bath and the master bedroom bath and dressing area. The ceilings are 9 feet high and the design is warm.

The remaining loft, with its 10-foot ceiling, includes an open space kitchen, dining/living area with a combination of authentic materials – including exposed wooden beams and brick walls – as well as modern architectural design elements, such as walnut flooring, a fireplace, bar area and window frames. Off the kitchen is an intimate banquette for family dinners as well as a pantry area for caterers. It’s a blend of old and new, creating its own special entity.

“It’s not a model suite,” Sachs reminds us. “At the end of the day it needs to feel like a home and not an art gallery.”

Photography Courtesy of Gross & Daley.

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