written by:
photos by:
June 26, 2013
Originally published in America the Beautiful
as
We Love NY
American history lives on in a family’s Tribeca, New York, loft after a renovation by a couple of enterprising architects.
Circular window in the Tribeca loft renovated by Pulltab Design for James Marcovitz and Jennifer Geiger.

It took more than a year for the Marcovitz-Geiger family just to navigate the tangle of renovation red tape to get the needed building permits for their Tribeca loft.

Photo by 
1 / 14
Compilation of Americana and blue-chip artwork on the primary wall in the kitchen.

Residents Jen Geiger and James Marcovitz have filled their renovated Tribeca loft with a thoughtfully curated collection of vintage modern furniture, Americana, and blue-chip artwork. The primary wall in the open kitchen is filled with photography by German duo Bernd and Hilla Becher. Seating includes a molded plywood lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames and K65 stools by Artek, designed by Alvar Aalto in 1935. 

Photo by 
2 / 14
James Marcovitz in living room of Tribeca loft.

In the loft’s living area, Marcovitz sits on a Charles sofa by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia, in front of a Jean Prouvé Potence Lamp that has been reissued through Vitra. 

Photo by 
3 / 14
Kitchen with custom fabricated cabinetry.

Custom kitchen cabinets designed by Pulltab and fabricated by Maciek Winiarczyk hold mostly vintage ironstone that Geiger has found at flea markets and estate sales over the past 20 years. “I love white,” she says, “because I think food always looks better on it.” She also collects vintage wooden cutting boards, shown resting against the marble tile backsplash from Stone Source. 

Photo by 
4 / 14
Living room bookshelves with various glassworks.

More treasured pieces, including a clear glass bud vase by William Gudenrath from the Corning Museum of Glass and a bronze palm from De Vera in San Francisco, occupy the living room bookshelves.

Photo by 
5 / 14

Pulltab’s custom 14-inch skylight makes for an artful aperture in the master bathroom.

Photo by 
6 / 14
Visible skylights on outdoor roof terrace.

Pulltab’s ingenious skylit lightwells visible from the terrace Marcovitz and Geiger requested for the newly built-out second-floor roof terrace. The outdoor table is vintage Paul McCobb.

Photo by 
7 / 14

The architects had to gain approval from the co-op board to break through to the roof—the loft is on the top floor—and add a terrace and master bedroom suite.

Photo by 
8 / 14
Kitch table flanked by Design Within Reach seating.

In the dining area of the kitchen, Design Within Reach’s Salt chairs surround a vintage Milo Baughman table. The Lenin portraits on the wall behind Jen and Jonas were purchased from Steven Sclaroff and form an ironic counterpoint to the family’s assembled Americana.

Photo by 
9 / 14
Custom walnut stairwell.

Jonas runs up the custom walnut stairwell, with inset Corian handrail, that leads up to the second-floor master suite. 

Photo by 
10 / 14
Jen sitting in front of vintage leather table.

In the entry to the loft apartment, Jen sits in front of a vintage Luther Conover table accented by Ted Muehling candlesticks and Karen Karnes pottery. A Leon Golub painting hangs at right on walls painted in Skimming Stone by Farrow & Ball.

Photo by 
11 / 14
Sitting room at the top of the stairs.

At the top of the stairwell, a sitting area is outfitted with a vintage Eames lounge, a large Jack Goldstein painting, and a 1970s light fixture found by Marcovitz in Paris.

Photo by 
12 / 14
Houldin in the window seat with skylight inserted above to meet New York City's strict residential building codes

Houldin, 10, curls up in the playroom nook which is directly under a side skylight that Pulltab added in order to make the interior rooms inhabitable, as per New York City building code. The custom millwork around the window seat is painted in Rainy Day by Fine Paints of Europe.

Photo by 
13 / 14
Cappellini desk chairs and a vintage kilim rug in the boy's playroom slash homework area

Houldin, 10, and Jonas, 8, in the boys' shared work area-slash-playroom. The vintage kilim rug was purchased at Double Knot and the desk chairs are by Jasper Morrison for Cappellini.

Photo by 
14 / 14
Circular window in the Tribeca loft renovated by Pulltab Design for James Marcovitz and Jennifer Geiger.

It took more than a year for the Marcovitz-Geiger family just to navigate the tangle of renovation red tape to get the needed building permits for their Tribeca loft.

Project 
White Street Residence
Architect 

Jen sitting in front of vintage leather table.

In the entry to the loft apartment, Jen sits in front of a vintage Luther Conover table accented by Ted Muehling candlesticks and Karen Karnes pottery. A Leon Golub painting hangs at right on walls painted in Skimming Stone by Farrow & Ball.

Some 20 years ago, Chicagoan James Marcovitz bought a derelict loft in an old tenement in Tribeca, then a neighborhood that had yet to reach the upper echelon of the Manhattan real estate bracket. “I was looking for a cheap place to live downtown,” he recalls, “and it was even cheaper in Tribeca than on the Lower East Side.” (Today, the two are on par in terms of trendiness, while Tribeca now ranks as one of the priciest zip codes in New York City.) The apartment had a wood-burning stove, barely functioning wall heaters, and only one toilet for the entire loft space—defects Marcovitz attempted to fix himself with trips to the hardware store and Ikea.

A decade passed, and he married Jennifer Geiger, a former art director for the Martha Stewart television empire, and the couple had two sons, Houldin and Jonas, now 10 and 8. The family realized that they had to do something to improve their living conditions—the space wasn’t insulated, and there was no privacy for children or parents. By 2008, they concluded that it was time to renovate or move. Geiger and Marcovitz, who studied art history in college and is now a lawyer, began the quest for a designer.

After countless interviews, the couple saw an article on Pulltab Design in Metropolis magazine and quickly called. “They hired us because they saw that we could be creative with zoning and NYC building codes,” says Pulltab principal Jon Handley, who, with his partner and wife, Melissa Baker, used all his ingenuity to work within New York’s strict regulations. “Everyone bends the rules in a renovation—it made us be more creative to follow them,” says Handley.

dw0713 ny 08

The architects had to gain approval from the co-op board to break through to the roof—the loft is on the top floor—and add a terrace and master bedroom suite.

It took more than a year just to navigate the tangle of renovation red tape to get the needed building permits, including permission from the building’s co-op board to break through to the roof—the loft is on the top floor—and add a terrace and master bedroom suite.

Pulltab’s inventive use of motorized skylights connected to light wells, which punctuate the space, allowed the architects to create rooms that city ordinances would usually not have permitted. (New York City code prohibits interior rooms that lack light and ventilation, so dividing up a loft space with no windows along a parti wall can be problematic.) They separated the living room from the kitchen-dining area by constructing a boxed-in structure between the two and adding operable skylights to both newly carved-out spaces. When seen from the living room at the loft’s entrance, the square structure seems to be a storage wall—and, indeed, it does conceal storage and a television. However, as you walk along the arterial hallway, toward the kitchen, you discover an entrance on the other side. The jewel-like room serves as a transformable office-studio, complete with a Murphy bed for guests.

One of the loft’s most striking new elements is the huge, round, bronze-trimmed skylight abovethe kitchen and dining area, which extends to the roof terrace above—a veritable periscope. The effect is dramatic. “It’s like being in the Turrell room at PS1,” says Marcovitz, referring to light artist James Turrell’s Meeting at the MoMA-affiliated PS1 contemporary art space in Queens.

Visible skylights on outdoor roof terrace.

Pulltab’s ingenious skylit lightwells visible from the terrace Marcovitz and Geiger requested for the newly built-out second-floor roof terrace. The outdoor table is vintage Paul McCobb.

The dining area is furnished with a vintage Milo Baughman table, flanked by simple wood dining chairs from Design Within Reach. Overhead, a dramatic Lindsey Adelman chandelier casts light on the setting. The kitchen has gleaming white Calacatta marble countertops that waterfall around the top and sides of custom cabinets. A wall of shelves is filled with Geiger’s monochromatic flea market finds.

The floors throughout the loft are no-sap walnut. “That’s what my father, who was in the lumber business, always told me was the only walnut to use,” says Geiger.

The children’s area lies beyond the kitchen, with two bedrooms, an adjoining work-playroom, and an en suite bath. The main walls are painted Skimming Stone from Farrow & Ball; the same color is used in the master suite, but there is a wide range of subtle hues throughout the loft. “Jen wanted to move away from the traditional loft, all-white color scheme,” says Handley, who adds that he and Baker were influenced by the palette used in HBO’s production of John Adams. The beautifully detailed cabinetry throughout the loft provides tons of storage and conceals the normal clutter associated with everyday living.

Parents Marcovitz and Geiger have their own hideaway in the rooftop addition, reached by a custom-finished walnut stairwell with inset Corian handrails, an inspired detail. At the top of the stairs, a small lounge sitting area—furnished with a classic Eames lounge chair and vintage pieces by Greta Magnusson Grossman—provides an easy transition between the master suite and the outdoor terrace, which the family uses as much as it can, even in the winter months. The bedroom is pale and tranquil, enlivened by a wall of artwork carefully curated by Marcovitz, a keen collector, whose selections punctuate the entire loft and lend the space a heightened air of sophistication and uniqueness.

In all, the renovation process took four years. But Marcovitz was philosophical about the wait, saying that he anticipated it. “You have to have realistic expectations,” he says. “If you push too hard, it hurts quality.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016