Running the length of Manhattan’s skyline is a layer of private spectacle, available by invite only. Predominantly, it’s a place of general lavishness, where wealth buys a bigger room, a higher ceiling, a superior shower head. One pair, however, has turned four complete stories atop an 1896 skyscraper into a fortress of ideas.
At the 21st floor, the beaux-arts structure culminates in impressive curved windows and stone angels supporting a brusquely inclined roof.
In this conservatively cordial skin is a completely modern space, a 7,000-square-foot penthouse apartment that combines geometric difficulty with pure liveliness and reduces privacy to an old-fashioned eccentricity. It’s structural design for the age of social media.
Some designers faded at the face of inserting a sumptuousness home within the sloping roof of a land marked building. The standard approach would have been to shape this inverted furrow into room-sized boxes, leaving wedges of useless real estate. The owners sought after something more competent, thrilling and superior.
Enter New York architect David Hotson, who keen to rupture further than his collection of smooth, modest interiors; seized the opening to make a complicated three-dimensional puzzle.
To assist Hotson, his mathematically minded client sent him his thesis, regarding an algorithm able of discerning the construction supporting multifaceted sequences of symbols: a Bach partita, a human genome, a sonnet.
It turns out that if you provide sufficient information, a computer can figure out the values of counterpoint, heredity and Elizabethan verse. Hotson likewise used raw computing muscle and a 3-D laser scan of the incomplete space to make a plan that preceding generations could barely have visualized, let alone built.
The effect is a place of enthused bewilderment. Walls splay outward and floors incline. Daylight flows in through concealed windows, bouncing off walls, bleaching out darkness and wreaking havoc with all sense of depth. Wherever you stand, you can look through to other levels without quite comprehending how they relate.
The occupants, a husband and wife who declined to be known, wanted their star-ship outfitted with the perks of continuous infancy (though they have no kids of their own): Ladders lead to out of sight lofts, a swing dangles in front of a fireplace and a steel pillar mounting 40 feet from the living room to the rafters is equipped with rubber handholds and a harness, so you can get in a swift climb prior to breakfast and rappel down before your cappuccino’s finished frothing. The two cats have a gym of their own, a succession of top secret passageways hidden in the walls and leading to a window that looks down upon their masters’ bed.
The real-life slide runs a longer, more unhurried route. Starting in the loft, you clutch a canary yellow cashmere blanket from a stack to hurry your trip, hop in, and go down elegantly to the third floor. There you move to the subsequent section, roar all the way through a second-floor bedroom, slow as the gradient flattens to clear a sofa in the den, and burst out a few yards from the dining room table. This may not be the house for lounging in shoddy comfort, but it’s perfect for the easily bored.