New York’s horizontal skyscraper

Nick Myall
11 Aug 2016

Morris Adjmi Architects have imaginatively reimagined one of the earliest concrete reinforced warehouses in the United States

This condo conversion project is taking place at one of the last iconic structures on the Williamsburg Waterfront in New York, the Austin Nichols House at 184 Kent Avenue. The property was designed by Woolworth Building architect Cass Gilbert for the Austin, Nichols & Co, the city’s biggest grocer, and later the distributor of Wild Turkey bourbon. The concrete warehouse was a construction and engineering marvel for its time, and its massive size led it to being called a “horizontal skyscraper.”  

The Austin Nichols House is the reimagination of Gilbert’s magnum opus and a testament to Williamsburg’s history and culture by Morris Adjmi Architects. It is one of the earliest reinforced concrete warehouses in the United States. Mr. Gilbert designed the warehouse in Egyptian Revival style, with clean, bold lines emphasized by the enormous scale and proportion of the building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Morris Adjmi Architects have introduced detail and a rich materiality to create a luxury condominium without losing the charm of the building’s historic past.  From the porcelain tile floors, walnut beams and planted green wall in the lobby, to the walnut floors and built-in banquets and custom millwork of the amenity spaces, the interior reveals a layer of softer, more luxurious materials and finishes. Herringbone wood floors, custom kitchens, stone and concrete-clad bathrooms add a personality to the units that is unique to the Williamsburg waterfront neighbourhood.

LIVWRK and Kushner Companies are converting the project from 338 rentals to condos. Updated amenities, also being designed by Morris Adjmi, include a new lobby with a 500 sq ft green wall, incorporating 3,500 plants and 25 species, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, jam room for musicians, a rooftop sundeck with sweeping Manhattan views, co-working spaces and a resident café.  

The residences will range from studios to three-bedroom apartments. Set before Manhattan skyline views, the Austin Nichols House overlooks the largest stretch of the East River and offers direct access to the East River Ferry, the North 5th Street Pier, and East River State Park.

Nick Myall

News editor

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