When Alysia Reiner and David Alan Basche went searching for a home in Manhattan, they had no idea they’d end up rescuing an abandoned crack house and turn it into a green dream home – all in front of the rolling cameras of Dwell TV. Now, a year and a half after the project began, the Green Harlem House, designed by Brooklyn architect Hannah Purdy, is almost complete and is getting ready to open to the public this coming weekend on May 20th. We highly encourage any New Yorkers who are interested in exploring the idea of green home renovation to come and check out the Harlem House this Sunday at 1pm. (128th Street at 5th Ave, see here for further details). For those of you who are not in New York, but are interested in watching the drama unfold in video, check out the Dwell Harlem House Series >
Inhabitat stopped by the house last week to meet the owners and get a tour before the opening this coming weekend. Read on to see our photos and find out more about the house below. + Dwell Magazine + Hannah Purdy
THE STORY Alysia and David, who are both actors, had been living in a cramped New York rental for years, and they were ready to move out of their claustrophobic habitat and buy a place they would love to live in for a long time. After searching long and hard, they found a completely gutted, abandoned, 16-foot wide space in a beautiful old brownstone in Harlem, and put in an offer site-unseen. Before they knew it, the place was theirs, and they started to wonder what they’d gotten themselves into. But with high aspirations to create their own green dream home, they put together a team and got moving, determined to create a beautiful, environmentally-friendly space on a reasonable budget. Greenstreet Construction, a company specializing in green design/build projects in the city, came on board to collaborate with the couple and draw plans around their vision.
After leaping over regulatory hurdles to obtain permits for the project, the demolition began. David and Alysia remained deeply involved as Greenstreet started to select materials and systems for the home. They were adamant about going green and being efficient, but their budget constraints posed a challenge. Fortunately, they were DIY-ready and willing to get their hands dirty in order to have the home they wanted. With a lot of research and hard labor, they managed to install green features such as radiant floor heating and on-demand hot water which would have been impossibly expensive if they’d put the task to contractors.
Dwell got involed in the project about midway through the renovation, and has been following David and Alysia’s progress through an excellent web video series, recording firsthand reports about the trials and tribulations of combining a massive renovation with a baby budget and a no-compromises commitment to being as green as possible. They’re seven episodes in with three to go. As we watch the team work their way toward the finer details and final stages, it’s hard to wait to see the mission accomplished.