Artist’s Residence and Studio: a Garden in Greenwich Village

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This design by Caliper Studio of Brooklyn, NY, was created in Greenwich Village out of two buildings that were originally a metal shop and a garage, respectively; the late artist Roy Lichtenstein and his family had first turned the buildings into their residence and studio in the late 1980s. Then, in 2007, Caliper came on board to renovate and restore the site. This was no small feat: as the architects explain, “The buildings had between them eight roof surfaces totaling 6,000 square feet of aging roof.” In light of the problems aging roofs can cause, “Preservation of the artist’s studio was a primary design objective of the project. Careful technical detailing of the building’s envelope along with new climate controls help ensure the longevity of the studio.”

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Now, the surfaces boast more than mere preservation: they are greenery, “wall-to-wall sedum” that serves as a display point for two of Lichtenstein’s works: Brushstrokes and Endless Drip. This “garden,” surrounded by neighboring buildings on Manhattan’s west side, stretches to cover two concrete-shell skylights that diffuse light into the studio beneath them. After the kitchen and penthouse were rebuilt, they were connected by a black locust wood deck that forms both a path and a handy spot to enjoy the garden — and the art it houses. The designers took care to preserve as much as possible of “…original artifacts, including the artist’s built-in wall easel system and paint-splattered floor.” Making the best of aging buildings is itself an art — one executed here with panache by Caliper.

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Written by Janet Butler

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Janet W. Butler is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant by day and a “small soprano” by night. An RWA Golden Heart Winner, she is the author of the inspirational romance From the Ashes (“the best little book no one’s ever heard of”), published by SANDS Publishing in 2001; and a romantic suspense, Voice of Innocence, from Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a Chicago native transplanted to northeast Indiana, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and Cassandra “Trouble” Butler, S.R.C. (Spoiled Rotten Cat).