There’s an amazing variety of places which participate, but my favourite places to visit by far are the architects’ houses/studios and last year Francesca managed to squeeze in two of them, including an gorgeous house in TriBeCa that had been completely gutted by the architect couple who lived and worked there. It was beautiful as you might imagine. They’d removed the entire back wall of the building and replaced it with glass to maximise the light and they were fortunate not to have any windows from neighboring buildings overlooking their property. I was very impressed by the effect of the glass wall, although when I excitedly related how fabulous it was to a friend of mine he rather snootily informed me that ‘all architects do that, it’s very common.’ Clearly I must have been the only person in the world that didn’t know this was commonplace in architectural circles. Fancy that. Whatever, it still impressed the hell out of me.
The bonus of the TriBeCa house was that the wife was actually there and very enthusiastic to give everyone a guided tour of her home, answer any questions and generally share details of how she and her husband had approached the renovation their home and studio. She was a lovely woman and her enthusiasm for her home was infectious, however I am ashamed to admit that at one point, when I was stood close to her, I was focused less on the intricacies of how they’d cut a piece of marble to form a cantilevered table in the garden and more on how hairy her legs were for someone wearing a knee length skirt without tights - I kid you not, they were a good half inch long, clearly a woman with her mind on higher things than leg waxing. Evidently I'm a shallow, overly grooming focused New Yorker, since I appeared to have been the only person in the the place to have noticed such a thing while she held everyone else architecturally enthralled.
Earlier in the day we'd seen another architect's house/studio in Grammercy Park that was interesting, but not somewhere I would want to live. It was very cold and had water features everywhere, with a sort of moat around the living area on the ground floor and three wooden and very wobbly stepping stones you had to cross to reach an open staircase up to a ‘bedroom’ - technically just a platform cantilevered over the living room - they love their cantilevering these architects don't they?
As I toured the Grammercy house I kept thinking how different the male architect’s life must be to my own for him to live in such a place. God forbid he should ever arrive home worse for wear from a couple of cheeky glasses of wine on a Friday night after a hard days architecting. He’d be likely to stumble over his stepping stones and trip and drown in his own reflecting pool. The bedroom was no less treacherous with the top half of the bed extending out over the staircase with a 10foot drop to the ground floor below. You certainly wouldn't want to risk any vigorous sexual activity in that bed I can tell you; it would be all too easy to get carried away in the throes of lusty pash and roll off the side of the bed and plummet to your death in the moat below. Now there's a contraceptive for you.
So kids, should you ever be in a bar and an architect tries to lure you back to his Grammery pad for a roll in the hay, for safety's sake, just say no, or suggest a nearby hotel instead ;-)
Here are the stepping stones you have to cross to get up to the sleeping area (Photo credit Kathryn via Flickr)
And here's a long shot of the ground floor of the apartment by Michael Surtees via Flickr.