The Cast Iron House is a neoclassical jewel built-in 1881 located in the chic neighborhood of Tribeca in New York City. A few years ago, it underwent an extensive renovation that kept its former splendor while adding an elegant touch of modernity to its interior spaces. The credit for reinventing the building’s interior goes to Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Known for the human dignity that exalts his creations and the impeccable aesthetics of his constructions, Ban is one of today’s undisputed design leaders. Among his most representative works is the housing project he created for disaster victims in Japan, Turkey, and India and the Pompidou-Metz Centre in France. With Cast Iron House, he leaves an indelible mark on the Manhattan cityscape. In the process of adapting the structure to modernity, the visionary architect faced a major challenge: remaking a milestone with his unique label while preserving the essence of one of the most magnificent examples of New York’s cast-iron 19th-century architecture.
With dazzling harmony, the building’s façade is the result of over three years of work. It took extreme attention to detail, to remove 4,000 pieces of ornamental iron from the exterior, which were taken to Alabama and recast to recover their original splendor. Once perfection was attained, they were reinstated at number 67 Franklin Street, the site of the construction.
Two penthouses with glass walls look as if they were suspended on the top of the building. Designed to float, there are surrounded by 1,399-square-foot terraces that blur the boundary between interior and exterior and give the feeling of living in the sky. However, the secret that makes it such an exceptional project is hidden in the glass walls of the penthouse: just press a button and they will open like sliding doors, letting in light, open views of the city and the cooling breeze from the nearby river.
Built-in a cathedral style, eight pairs of extraordinary duplexes with double-height ceilings comprise the original building. Open and breezy, the fluid interiors characterize the work of Shigeru Ban. The high ceilings, large windows and huge white spaces uninterrupted by walls describe the concept of a “universal floor” at the Cast Iron House. Created by Ban himself, the white matte lacquer cabinets with rounded lines are part of the design of kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, marking a contrast with the simple oak floors. These details make the space a real work of art.
This work heralds a great success: the reinterpretation of history through innovative aesthetics. Cast Iron House is an impressive work. Perhaps its greatest charm resides in its joyful elegance. ■