6sqft’s series “My sqft” checks out the homes of New Yorkers across all the boroughs. Our latest interior adventure brings us to the Hudson Square apartment of architect Brooks McDaniel. Want to see your home featured here? Get in touch!
In 2013, the Hudson Square area was rezoned to allow residential development for the first time, and the first building to welcome tenants into the neighborhood was Extell Development’s 70 Charlton Street. Though Beyer Blinder Belle are responsible for the industrial-style facade, it’s actually Extell’s team of in-house architects who got the ball rolling, as they do with all projects, from Billionaires’ Row blockbusters like One57 and the Central Park Tower to downtown game changers like 555Ten and One Manhattan Square.
For the past three years, Brooks McDaniel has worked as Extell’s Vice President of Architecture. After experiencing first-hand their “level of design, quality of construction, and attention to detail,” he decided to live in an Extell building. Wanting to move back to Manhattan from Brooklyn, he chose 70 Charlton for its clean, modern aesthetic and easy access to so many great areas. He recently gave us a tour of his custom-designed pad and filled us in on what it’s like working for one of NYC’s biggest developers.
Brooks opted for a natural color palette, using bronze, green, and blue
What was it about this specific project that made you want to call it home?
I chose to buy at 70 Charlton Street because it “ticked all the boxes.” I loved the neighborhood and the amenities. The layout of the unit is perfect for me, and I also think that Beyer Blinder Belle designed a beautiful facade. It has a modern yet contextual exterior that fits perfectly into the neighborhood.
I relocated from Brooklyn because I missed being in Manhattan. The building is perfectly located at the intersection of Soho, Tribeca, and the West Village, so I have immediate access to everything in downtown Manhattan and really convenient transportation options that make getting anywhere in the city easy.
With all of Extell’s buildings, buyers are given a choice of finishes. In keeping with his natural tones, Brooks opted for the custom grey wash oak hardwood flooring and rift-cut stained and cerused oak cabinetry in the kitchen.
Can you explain how your role, the Vice President of Architecture and Development, works in conjunction with the facade architect and interior architect?
I am one of several architects at Extell. We design all of our buildings in-house prior to hiring outside consultants so that we can control the design process as much as possible. Once our President, Gary Barnett, is satisfied with the overall design and the floor plans, we engage a façade architect, an architect of record, an interior designer, and all of the other consultants. I continue to be involved throughout the design and development process in order to weigh in on design issues that may arise along the way and ensure that the project is completed with our original vision and standard of excellence in mind.
How do you see the Hudson Square neighborhood changing over the next decade?
Hudson Square was recently rezoned to allow for residential development. 70 Charlton is the first new residential building in Hudson Square, so it has been fascinating to watch the area transform from a primarily commercial neighborhood to a residential one. There are several new condo buildings already under construction nearby which will bring hundreds of new residents to the area. New retailers and restaurants are already opening up throughout the area. A Trader Joe’s is opening this winter on Spring Street and Sixth Avenue, which everyone is very excited about.
Within a few years, I think Hudson Square will feel like an extension of Soho and the West Village, but with its own unique character.
As a fan of mid-century modern architecture, Brooks chose a Saarinen dining table with Eames chairs
Any favorite spots in the neighborhood?
My favorite restaurant is Houseman. It is an awesome neighborhood joint with an ever-changing menu of whatever is in-season. The food is always interesting and tasty, and the staff is very friendly. It’s on a quiet stretch of Greenwich Avenue, which contributes to the neighborhood vibe.
Hudson Square has a bunch of other great restaurants, classic New York pub the Ear Inn, live music at City Winery, old movies at Film Forum, great access to Hudson River Park, and as I said earlier, easy access to all of downtown.
Tell us a bit about the sailing influence throughout the home.
In my twenties, I spent several years working as a crewmember on sailboats and private yachts. I crossed a few oceans, sailed around the world, and even made it to Antarctica by boat. It was a great adventure. I tried to include a few subtle references to my sailing days in the interior design of the apartment. The seascape and the porthole mirror in the dining area and the sail print over the bed against the blue wallpaper are some examples. I didn’t want the place to look too “boat-y” but I like the connection to my past.
How would you describe your overall design aesthetic?
I wanted the apartment to look well-finished, comfortable, and cohesive. Most of the furniture is new, although I kept my vintage desk, which was found in an abandoned gas station several years ago and refinished to expose the raw steel. I appreciate mid-century modern design, clean lines, and minimal clutter. I try to live without a lot of extraneous stuff. Even though I am an architect, I got a lot of great advice and ideas from my friends in Extell’s interior design department.
What’s your favorite piece in your home?
I have my grandfather’s vintage 8mm video camera from the 1950’s. He passed away before I was born and this is the only possession of his that I have. It is a beautiful little machine. It’s a wind-up camera, where you crank the handle on the side to load up an internal spring, and this advances the film when you are shooting. It still works! It has three external zoom lenses that can rotate into position. I liked it so much that I bought a few others from the same time-period to form a small collection.
I also love a painting from my friend Michelle Fisher. She is a life-long artist who just quit her day job to dedicate herself to painting. I commissioned this piece for my new apartment. I love the colors and the geometric design. I see an urban topography in the work.
The closet features Sapele ribbon cut wood
Your closet is quite the work of art. Tell us how you went about designing it.
Thanks. The apartment has a huge walk-in closet. I decided to fit it out with furniture-grade millwork in order to make it feel like a finished room, not just a place to store clothes. I designed it to have a ton of storage options and a lot of flexibility. It was constructed by George Palumbo at Wood Enterprise, who did a terrific job. I don’t actually have a huge wardrobe, so my bike lives on one side of the closet. I enjoy looking at my bike even when I’m not riding it. It’s like a piece of sculpture.
Out of Extell’s current projects, which are you most excited about right now?
Brooklyn Point in Downtown Brooklyn is definitely the most exciting project for me because it’s the first project I designed at Extell. Also, it’s Extell’s first project in Brooklyn. The building is under construction right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing it come together. There will be amazing amenities, including a roof deck with unbelievable views of the East River and Manhattan. I think it will be the best building in Brooklyn.
You also teach a class called “The Architecture of Development” at Columbia’s GSAPP program. What advice do you give your students who want to get into the development field?
Yes, I teach students who are getting a Masters of Real Estate Development at Columbia. I try to drive home the point that being a successful developer is all about creating value and managing risk. I also try to instill a sense of fun and energy into my class, because I really love what I do and I want my students to be as excited about their future careers as I am about mine.
© All images taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft
Neighborhoods : Hudson Square