Exquisite Finishes, Contemporary Art, and Model Apartments
As our residence nears completion, the exquisite finishes and design elements that have been incorporated into the overall design are shining through. Being located in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood, the design approach to the interiors had to provide Inspīr residents with meaningful connections not only to nature and the outdoors, but also to the city and the community within.
Handel Architects prioritized the organization of the interior program around what matters most in its urban context: views to the city at large, access to natural light and fresh air through windows and sliding doors, bringing the outdoors in, and allowing for monumental public spaces. The design team created both interior gardens at communal amenity areas and seamless openings to lush exterior planted terraces. Building on these spatial connections between indoors and out, the design team started with a material expression that would provide a complement to the building exterior’s board-formed concrete frame, and highlight the gardens within using a palette of warm, white oak walls and Travertine floors. Accent walls were added using naturally colored stones and metals, acting as wayfinding assistance for residents. More intimate spaces for dining, leisure, and physical activity are defined by texture and detail using custom-made bronze and brass light fixtures and hardware, timeless handcrafted furniture profiles in pop-colored fabrics, and curated artwork. The result throughout the interior spaces is a balanced backdrop to nature that is simple and modern in form but luxuriant with bespoke, authentic materials, optimizing the areas in the building where residents come together, stimulating the senses, and connecting residents to life and purpose; a true feeling of luxury in the city.
Entering from bustling Second Avenue through a set of custom teak wood doors framed by bronze planters, residents are welcomed to the lofty lobby space, flooded with natural light. The building’s board-formed concrete exterior transforms into boarded oak wood, creating a subtle transition to the interior while the richly planted entrance canopy further bridges indoors and out through its extension over the interior entrance vestibule. Setting the tone for the rest of the interior spaces, Handel Architects designed the lobby with a calm, neutral palette of handset, honed ivory Roman Travertine floors, flat-cut white oak wood wall-paneling, and Statuary white marble, acting as a backdrop for a planted garden and natural light, connecting to the library above. A massive green onyx wall on one side of the lobby identifies the reception desk and is bookended on the other side by a yellow onyx wall at the lounge. The design team further detailed the space with a custom handblown, fluted glass chandelier in varying shades of clear and white over the marble reception desk, carved with subtle gold inlay.
A series of slatted oak and glass screen walls separate the lobby from 1802 restaurant, allowing light from Second Avenue to filter through to the dining spaces while defining a layered sequence of rooms from which residents can choose to dine. The screen walls terminate at a custom-ribbed, leather banquet surrounding a garden enclosed with sliding oak doors that open to the Second Floor terrace above, allowing natural light and air to enter deep into the interior space. Handel Architects adorned the main dining area with an inlaid Travertine mosaic rug, upon which groupings of velvet armchairs and tables sit, marked with a brass and silk-fringed light fixture above each table. Overlooking the lobby and gardens below are resident amenities , including a library, screening room, and an art and pottery studio that opens directly to the beautiful terrace garden. A peaceful salon looks out on a classic New York City backyard scene of neighboring treetops through an enormous window, connecting residents to outdoor views to the east, and through a slatted wood and glass wall, offering residents natural light and planted canopy views to the west.
High above Second Avenue, located on the 17th floor, is the SkyPark, a multifunction monumental space. “I was inspired by lath house structures and had the walls and ceiling constructed of oak boards, whose rhythm changes from wall to ceiling, opening up toward the natural light and air to the west. The lath-clad space is connected to the outdoors and to the city below with a wraparound terrace, where Inspīr residents can meander through the garden space around the building’s perimeter, enjoy the fragrant plantings of lilac, peonies, and heather, or sit on the sunporch and have a meal or meeting with friends and family,” says Frank Fusaro, Partner at Handel Architects. The landscaping has been envisioned and thoughtfully installed by Future Green Studio. A variety of plants and textures not only fill the borders of the SkyPark but also fill the window boxes outside common room windows. Future Green Studio believes that “landscape and buildings can be deeply integrated: not as a tower in a garden but a tower as a garden.” As all the elements in Inspīr are coming together, this is clearly evident, and the final result will be an unprecedented link back to nature.
The main space is connected to the sunny breakfast room to the east by a two-sided bar that allows both sunrise and sunset views of the city. Handel Architects marked the portals between the eastern and western sides of the SkyPark with slabs of red onyx stone, and separated a cozy library sitting area at the north with a two-sided fireplace clad in oxidized copper. At the center of the main space, a café bridges between the indoor space and the terrace, furnished with seasonal fabrics that can be changed from light cotton in the summer to plush velvet in the winter, connecting residents with their senses and the time of year. Lantern-like pendant light fixtures illuminate the interior space, further reinforcing the feeling of being outdoors.
Curated Art Collection
Throughout the residence, a contemporary art collection has been carefully curated to compliment the design of the building. Erica Samuels, art curator and owner of Samuels Creative & Co., was hired by Inspīr to create a collection of works from artists whose careers have had meaningful support both in the private and institutional sectors. Erica told us, “The Inspīr Collection is a thoughtfully chosen group of over 100 artworks. For an artwork to make it to the final round of selections, it passes through four concept presentations, resulting from multiple exploratory visits to local galleries in New York City. The intention of these gallery visits was to educate and view objects in real life. The team, which included Inspīr President and CEO Gregory Smith and other members of the senior executive team, also visited Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2019 and spent long hours looking, asking questions, and challenging themselves to go beyond a personal vision in order to create a beautiful, cohesive collection for Inspīr. Some of the collection for the building includes 14 works by the Lebanese artist Etel Adnan. Her colorful abstract engravings hang along select resident hallways. On the second floor, a series of eight monoprints by Marina Adams, a native of both New York and Parma, Italy, will hang along with a set of five relief prints with glass microspheres by Mary Corse. On the 17th floor SkyPark, a series of four woodcuts by the British artist Christopher Le Brun will accompany two creased archival pigment prints by John Houck. Additional pieces will be added to the collection in the upcoming weeks as final preparations for opening are underway, but we loved that one of the artists chosen was such a perfect choice for residents at Inspīr, not just for her age but her ‘joie de vivre.’ ”
We asked Erica what makes Etel Adnan an ideal visual ambassador for the Inspīr collection.
“She is an artist with a strong, long, complete, and beautiful career, and she is still making art. And while she wouldn’t want her age to be the central focus of her story, it is important to recognize that at age 95, she endures.”
Adnan is a prolific, multicultural, multimedia artist. She speaks many languages and had a very diverse upbringing. She considers herself a global citizen. In a recent interview, Adnan said, “When you have such a multicultural background—which is the way of the future—where is your identity? I often ask myself this question. Your identity is a mixture of things. It is your own memory of your background, your family and your own life. Yet in the end, you choose how you want to live.”
Samuels concluded, “What I love about the Inspīr concept is that it is about living well for people of a certain age. Art is integral, in my opinion, to living well. Giving the residents works that resound with meaning and beauty is a real gift. When I started thinking about the collection for this project, I was in Venice for the Biennale, and there was a room at the Palazzo del Dogana, which houses François Pinault’s collection, and in this beautiful space in the Venetian Lagoon was an Etel Adnan painting. That was it! Visual poetry.”
Handel Architects gave special attention to the interior planning, prioritizing the large open common area on every level with an abundance of natural light and a folding wall that stacks, opening up to a balcony planted with climbing roses and to the life of the city beyond. The design team finished the light and airy living and dining spaces with a serene palette of quartered white oak millwork, open kitchens with clean white quartz counters, and custom furnishings in green, brown, and ochre-colored fabrics, allowing the focus to remain on the gardens. Common rooms carry up the building through the different care levels, each one differentiated with custom furnishings and color compositions, creating smaller floor ‘neighborhoods’ within the larger building community.
Residents’ door entries are marked with white oak portals and modern bronze door levers, signage, and light fixtures that were designed specifically for the project with a square perforation pattern reflecting the geometry of the building’s exterior, and providing a soft glow at every door. Elga Killinger, Principal at Handel Architects, told us that “the firm designed the unit interiors to maximize natural light with floor-to-ceiling tilt-in windows, easy-to-operate crank hardware, window shades, and sheer drapes, allowing Inspīr residents to control their own fresh air and quality of light. White oak engineered wood floors and elegant, built-in white oak wardrobes, pantries, and mirrored display niches provide purposeful accommodations for the Inspīr resident’s every need.” The design team meticulously designed the bathrooms in luxurious Calacatta gold marble with a warm vein pattern that compliments the surrounding oak and white quartz materials. A custom light at each entry foyer turns on automatically at night for safety and wayfinding assistance.
In preparation for occupancy, model apartments are now fully furnished and open for viewing. On view are studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with a variety of views of the city and East River and bridges. To schedule an appointment, please contact our leasing gallery.