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Synagogue Turned East Village Penthouse
Photo courtesy of Michael Falco
Living in New York City requires that your home be your sanctuary. There are numerous paths to this destination, but one lucky couple, Dominique Camacho and Gary Hirschkron, actually live in a sanctuary — more specifically a retro-fitted synagogue. The building, located in East Village, was a synagogue until the 1980s, when it was retrofitted to make five separate residences. Upon purchasing the home, Camacho and Hirschkron renovated the “once-somber sanctuary into a modern triplex with an exhibitionist streak,” as Mimi Zeiger of the New York Times put it. Brooklyn-based Manifold Architecture Studio acted as consulting architects on this project, helping to fill the home with elegant touches, such as the custom-designed staircases, and worked with Camacho to incorporate eco-friendly finishes, such as low-VOC paints.
It was important to Camacho and Hirschkron that their new home take advantage of its beautiful and large windows, which suffuse the open floor plan with daylight. And every level can certianly be described as open — from the downstairs lounge, to the second-floor library, even the third-floor bedroom which opens up to the rooftop terrace. The project’s transparency is almost shocking, when you consider the minimalist design of the staircase barristers and the walls of the upstairs bathroom — all made of glass panels. This choice of materials facilitiates the fluid elegance of the stairs from the first to second level, and then again to the second to third level — a spatial concept that could not have been completed without the cooperation of clients that could appreciate the subtle transitions in space with barely-there separations.
As the owner of Sustainable NYC and a supporter of preservation, it was important to Camacho that the home showed respect for the environment and the unique history of the building. And while the home no longer appears to be a synagogue, the renovation pays homage to the the building’s architectural features with a contemporary outlook — one that values transparency, light, and openness in a city of dense buildings.
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