98 Front is the end-product of a study we conducted relating to what we refer to as the "breathing room" of a building - to what degree it can expand and contract within the limitations of the zoning envelope. The intention is to explore the uncharted opportunities in a community of small dwelling units in dense cities. What seems complicated is in fact a very simple structure, designed from the inside-out.
Every unit is made of one to four modules, from a studio apartment to a three-bedroom home where the living room is always longer and projected beyond the base building line just enough to allow it to have a corner window and an access to a large, furnishable terrace. This terrace is in fact the roof of another extended living room below. The result is a building where almost every apartment has more than one exposure to light and air and a large outdoor space expanding the indoor living-room experience.
Amenities are traditionally thought of as a series of rooms accommodating a long list of dedicated activities from different sports to study rooms and playrooms. We often see them organized along corridors like doctor offices or classrooms placed in the basement level not to take away from salable areas for the developer. We approach building’s amenities differently.
For us, it's about the quality of those common areas, and how they can become a natural expansion of one's home. They must have natural light and air and arrange as open casual spaces that allow people to enjoy spontaneously, without purpose or a goal.
At 98 Front, the common spaces within the building are placed on the street level and feels like a natural extension of the visible surroundings. It opens up to an internal courtyard full of light. They have casual seating arrangements and dining tables and can be used as people wish.
The Garden Unit
The extensive common roof is accessible from two different cores creating a loop-like path within the building to avoid dead ends. Having a circular common path within a building is invaluable.
The building fits very well within the industrial history of Dumbo, which is full of old warehouses and manufacturing buildings. Many of the neighborhood’s buildings were built of concrete grid-like structures that maximized the load and open space of the floorplan.
We used wood both inside and out to balance the concrete material, a lesson we learned from the architect Louis Kahn. The underside of the cantilever is clad in wood panels that is experienced both from inside the apartments and from the street looking up. At night the light from the homes reflects on the wood surfaces, glows with a beautiful deep haze.