Redesigning a row of buildings in a historic district is a minefield of both opportunity and pitfalls. BKSK Architects' work on West 13th Street and Ninth Avenue is a good example of how the job can be done by maintaining historical integrity, while adding upwards without needing to apologize. Early renderings for 21-27 Ninth Avenue (across from the Gansevoort Hotel) showed the addition of a glass box on top of the series of what were originally rowhouses, culminating in a fourth structure on the corner that once housed a saloon. The final build of BKSK Architects' project split that glass box topper into three visually distinct additions that echo the parallel row-house form underneath. The end result is a handsome update on Ninth Avenue that shows how the architecture of a historic district can be updated to reflect its changing uses without appearing bluntly overbearing (we're looking at you, Chelsea Market addition).
The steel frame marquee is new, and almost seems like an obligatory visual reminder that one is in the Meatpacking District, like billboard ads that are required in Times Square. The corner building at 27 Ninth Avenue was originally a saloon, later completely bricked up, and in a complete 180 turnabout now serves as the glass-enclosed entrance to Sephora. A restored cast iron pillar anchors the entrance on the corner and to the building's past. The cosmetics store now extends the full length of the properties on the street, while the restaurant Catch occupies the upper floors. Wherever possible, the architects chose to retain historical details like cast iron pilasters.
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