Flickering fluorescent lighting, black floor tiles, dark maroon wallpaper and a low dropped ceiling made the lobby of this residential co-op building in lower Manhattan feel practically subterranean. The challenge was to transform this ugly duckling into a white swan on a very tight budget, and with an aesthetic that could win over a diverse collection of board members. The design employs a palette of refreshing and durable materials, including light grey porcelain floor tiles and white oak wall panels. An undulating stone tile wall surrounds the elevators and features a continuous indirect lighting cove that helps ‘float’ the wall and expand the sense of space.

The additional height claimed by removing the existing ceiling allows natural light from the new glass entry to filter deep into the space. The re-paved concrete sidewalk and entry vestibule floor are sloped slightly, eliminating two existing steps into the lobby and facilitating access for the building’s elderly population.

Photos by Amy Barkow.