Book Tour: Contemporary New York City Architecture

In the ever-changing skyline of New York, it is difficult to keep track of the most notable structure, and the city has undergone a surge in new construction in the past ten years. It was an era that brought us projects in the New Museum’s revitalization of the Bowery to The High Line’s lifting of park space to new levels.

John Hill, contributor and creator of Archidose, has closely chronicled the design of this decade, choosing buildings that have a point of perspective, and creating walking tours organized by neighborhood to make it easy to take your own guided tour. His new novel, Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture, lets you read up on the buildings and organize your tour — and it will not add much weight to your luggage when you take it to the streets.

John Hill

While Hill recommends the AIA Guide and admires it as a company full of buildings in the prior centuries, he sees it is not the simplest tome to bag on a city walk.

His guide is compact and portable, with a strong cover and binding that may stand up to numerous urban explorations. The guide covers all five boroughs and all types of buildings (from glass high rises to townhouses; from Prada to firehouses) and public spaces.

John Hill

This guidebook lets you in on secret details you may miss if you are not looking out for them. “A closer look at the three casting windows reveals some unusual particulars: diamond tread sills and projecting handles on the jambs. The bay windows are in fact the rear frames of truck bodies,” he writes.

Design by LOT-EK 2007

John Hill

This facade close to the High Line carries a piece of Cor-ten steel so large they had to close a level of the George Washington bridge to transfer it in New Jersey to Manhattan.

It provides a big notice to the rhythm of the block, making a transition between the steel beams onto the building on the left and also the more traditional brick building on the right.

Believing this home may be a bit dark inside? Count on Hill’s guide to put you straight. “Most of the normal light in the home arrives through the completely glazed rear facade and throughout skylights,” he explains.

John Hill

Though the steel is one large-scale, 1.25-inch-thick piece, Hill notes that the rust variation adds its own layout.

Because the layout passed the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Hill asserts “its acceptance is evidence of a taste for contemporary buildings that differentiate themselves from older neighbors.”

Design by Matthew Baird Architects, 2005

John Hill

One trend that has marked the decade is utilizing materials in fresh and surprising ways. This facade is made from polypropylene panels that are generally used inside of trucks to keep things cool. “Up close, this skin. . .evidences a texture that arises from screen printing the panels with black ink. It’s one of the most densely populated facades in this book,” Hill writes.

Design by Adjaye Associates with David Hotson Architect, 2005

John Hill

The book also clarifies materials and architectural conditions throughout its guided tours. By way of example, for this home Hill educates us that “baguettes may be bread, but in the area of architecture, they are ceramic pipes, generally at square cross-section, in most cases integrated into larger rain screen facades.”

Due to the small scale of those “baguettes,” Hill says, “it is a good example of a building that’s trying to be contemporary while relating to the older brick neighbors through the scale of the pipes.”

John Hill

When you have the building close up, you can observe the way the sticks offer privacy while letting in the light and perspectives. Hill calls this “a great alternative for those who reside in glass houses.”

Layout by Workshop/apd, 2010

John Hill

In this block full of standard buildings, this one certainly stands out. “The perforated metallic rain screen of the facade incorporates random openings about the size and scale of a normal brick, providing the brand new townhouse a relationship to its neighbors although it seems at odds with these,” Hill writes.

John Hill

Here’s a closer look at the layout. Hill describes that “the zigzag pattern at the perforations follows a stairs all the way up the front of the building.”

Layout by Peter Gluck and Partners, 2009

John Hill

“This building is modest but substantial,” Hill says. He also makes note of those flipped steel rings that give various peeks into the lower storage space based upon the angle. Locating these architectural gems one of the skyscrapers that he also writes about is a very fun part of this guided treasure hunt.

Layout by Christoff: Finio Architecture, 2006

John Hill

A tree keeps growing in Brooklyn. This home “is intended around the tall windows framing the maple tree that commands the space in front of the home,” he writes. “It is impossible to consider the home without the tree, and it’s not difficult to see why the architects made it a driver of the inside design.”

Design by noroof Architects, 2005

John Hill

This unique Brooklyn townhouse facade relates to other buildings with wood siding on precisely the exact same street. “The diverse size and spacing of the boards lends the home a contemporary twist that is not alienating,” Hill writes.

John Hill

Here’s a closer look at the spin Hill said: Variated overlap generates unique rhythms, taking the traditional material and utilizing it in a fresh manner. Hill contrasts this rhythm to that of a washboard.

Layout by Tina Manis Associates, 2005

John Hill

This home in the Bronx brings up another fad from the centuries; the vast improvements upon the design, affordability and sustainability of the home. “The home really stands out in its locality,” Hill says.

Layout by Resolution: 4 Architecture, 2008

John Hill

Moving on to a larger scale project, this row of townhouses in Brooklyn provides a transitional part of the cube that’s in between low-rise houses and mid-rise buildings. “The buildings are pared down but capture their personality from various bricks, punched-out windows and roof terrace openings. They have got an A-B-A-A rhythm down the block,” Hill says.

Designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, 2006

John Hill

On a far larger scale, this is the largest affordable housing project in the history of New York City. The pieces of the job were prefabricated in the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard foundry. The facades are comprised of inexpensive fiber cement cladding. “Using the cladding in vivid colors gives individuality to the cookie components,” Hill explains.

Layout by Alexander Gorlin Architect, 2008

It was only a small taste of what Hill’s new guide offers, focusing on the residential. The full guide also includes much-anticipated projects in the works for the next decade.

Book info: Find out more about the book and order from the publisher here

More: Read John Hill’s articles on

Next: More Book Tours
Garden Inspiration from New York City’s High Line

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Fantastic Compositions: The L-Shaped House Plan

How can homes connect to their websites? It’s less to do with fashion and a whole lot to do with the plan. An L-shaped house program is inherently a fragment of something larger — an incomplete enclosure around the outdoor”room.” The inner corner of the outside walls creates an edge that extends like open arms in two instructions preparing to adopt. The landscape could be included and amplified from the supporting background of the family home, serving the reciprocal relationship of interior and exterior space, one setting off another.

Stuart Sampley Architect

This straightforward and efficient vernacular type opens into the private yard with a framed view of an old growth tree. A large suspended sliding”barn” door opens the entire wall and living space up into the view and connects to the adjacent porch supplying a covered place to sit down. This house accomplishes quite big ideas on a budget.

LDa Architecture & Interiors

Two traditional wood shingle clad national forms are connected by a contemporary glassy L-shaped loggia defining a stepped lawn and patio. The use of contrast because the linking element here with a lighter color extends the light of the sky to the ground and allows the”two homes” to stay deferentially scaled into the outdoor room.

Now imagine for a moment if a linear representing pool has been inserted on axis at the center of the lower yard merging the earth and sky at the connecting loggia.

Large windows and openings permit an immediate connection between indoor and outdoor terrace living room with a mix of hardscape, planting beds, pools, and trees. As the previous example, the 2 wings in this house are each scaled appropriately for the outdoor space they function, and material contrast is used to differentiate living room from sleeping space.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

Smaller single story programs are also ideal to define an outdoor space. The size of the outdoor space is a function of the elevation of the house. A lower roof here works nicely with the intimate ratio of this dining room. The soft plantings and translucent shining patio chairs are a wonderful glow to the hardness and mass of stucco walls.

Think. Design Office

And, it will not get much better than this! Who doesn’t dream of a sunken fire pit? There’s not anything to add or take away from this composition. Each significant space in the house has an opinion to this personal sanctum made possible by the L-shaped plan tucked to the site.

The L-shaped plan is a superb way to create a statement of concerning entrance. The garage is easy to access and links to the main house which is put back in the site and aligned on axis with birth. This house conveys a clear sense of purpose and direction in a traditional style.

Darwin Webb Landscape Architects, P.S.

Here, the house occupies the edge of a hill which seems to slope down to a lake. A courtyard is made possible by the form of the plan, which, like the former example, has a connected garage to the side of the main entry. An alteration in elevation and roof shape mark the”hinge” connection at the inner corner.

Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

Pools are frequently the reason for using the L-shape concept. Living and sleeping spaces are allowed direct access and views, and the swimming pool is guarded and made personal by the configuration of the house. Many towns need a pool to be fenced and split, however, the configuation of the house can achieve this need and at the exact same time, create the pool a focal point of landscape reflection and design for the structure.

Notice here how the link between the two wings is the lowest roof line of the L-shaped plan. This really is the masterstroke because it allows more of the sky to be reflected from the swimming pool, and every element is scaled, as in an earlier example, to the outdoor space it serves.

The vertical chimney acts as a punctuation mark terminating the axis of the terrace stair, whereas the horizontal linear window is mirrored in the duration of the pool. There’s a clear sense of purpose behind every element of the house and landscape.

More: Artful and Powerful L-Shaped Home in Austin
More inspiring architecture

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Space of the Week: The Ultimate Breakfast Patio

Doesn’t this picture just make you sigh with envy? This gorgeous Italian villa is located on the island of Capri, just off the coast from Naples, Italy. An island known for the sapphire blue skies and endless ocean views, it is hard to think of a perfect setting for spending a summer.

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

The villa was designed by Italian designer Fabrizia Frezza. While the entire space is stunning, the gorgeous view this breakfast nook affords is that which really made my jaw drop. White archways provide a little bit of shelter and shade, but apart from that the table is available to the atmosphere on this cement tile patio. Low landscaping and walls allow for a clear view of the ocean whilst sitting at the table. The built-in seat makes for the best place to sit in the sun with a fantastic book after having a big breakfast.

Watch more of this stunning villa and tell us: Where could you spend most of your time?

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

Fabrizia Frezza Interiors & Architecture

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors

I’ll let myself another sigh of envy… Someone take me today, please?

Next: Browse more Mediterranean-style home photographs

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Guest Groups: 18 Unusual Home Decorating Finds

I feel that your home should be your refuge; it ought to make you happy. Therefore it follows that I really like this quote from William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you don’t understand to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

I tend to search for things that are unusual or unique, not just for the sake of being unusual or unique, but because I believe there is more space for interpretation — my very own and yours. I hope you enjoy! — Melissa out of Melissa Loves


Tall Barnacle Vase – $562.59

This is an announcement piece if there ever was one! I like its size and sophistication (even though I do not love the price tag). It would be gorgeous with or without blooms inside. It has so much visual attention, and it is never a bad thing in my book.


TAL-Y-LLYN Wool Rug – GBP 185

A gorgeous rug is always a good place to begin, and this odd color combo has me dreaming of warm fires, a good novel and a glow in the air.


Antique Drawing Drafting Table from Karen C. Kramer – $950

Any classic piece is possibly unique, since it’s a good bet there are not a whole lot of these around. This classic easel are a gorgeous spot to display a treasured novel.


Porcelain Wall Pillow by Stepanka

Stepanka’s ceramic pieces possess a completely one-of-a-kind fashion that she lovingly creates by hand. Her wall “cushions,” cups, cups and amazing metallic porcelain clouds have so much warmth and soul.


Circa 1940 Vintage Industrial Laundry Cart by Go Seek – $225

“A thousand and one” is exactly what I think when I look at this awesome classic laundry cart — that is, a thousand and one ways to utilize it and add this type of cool, distinctive piece to your home.


Crystal Poster from Debbie Carlos – $47

Within her larger-than-life posters, Debbie Carlos takes everyday minutes or things and frees them to an artistic standing. This is my favorite, and I lately sent it to my brother for his birthday.

Melissa de la Fuente

Wooden Storage Cubes – $270

These boxes are just wonderful. I really like that they are art all on their own, but may be used to emphasize something special as well.


Vespertine Hand-Dyed Vintage Doily by Enhabiten

Liane includes a understated manner of producing a room welcoming and warm. She hand-dyes these gorgeous doilies and provides them a completely new lease on life. A bunch of these sewn on the bottom of a linen curtain could be beautiful.

Melissa de la Fuente

“IT’S OK” Affirmation Banner by Ashley Anna Brown – $45

Ashley Anna Brown has my favorite means of looking at life into a simple and powerful message. I love its simplicity.


Sweet Simple Vintage Persian Area Rug by Old New House – $1,325

This classic Persian carpet is so beautiful. The colors make it easy but additionally give it so much heat.

Ballard Designs

Bee Skep Doorstop – $39

Bee skeps are so intriguing, and using one as a doorstop — or anyplace else, for that matter — is entertaining.

Society 6

Einstein Art Print by Tracie Andrews – $15

I really like this quotation and believe in it wholeheartedly. We all have something to give, also this is a superb reminder for almost any dwelling.


Merchant Nails – $28

I feel like I’m always searching for an affordable means to put up art without having to get it framed or purchasing a frame (or something else). I love the idea of just tacking things up with these retailer nails. They have an old fashioned quality that appears to stand on its own.


Quotable Canvas Wall Art by Vermont Studio – $89

It is always a good idea to add words onto your wall that inspire one, in my humble view. It is not a new idea, but if it’s a phrase that adds something to your day or your life and leaves you happy, then it deserves to be in your property.


Swaying Stalks Floor Lamp – $498

This lamp is so beautiful — a piece of sculpture in addition to a light source.


Decorate: 1,000 Style Ideas for Every Room in Your House – $23.79

Holly Becker’s interior design book is full of incredible inspiration and homes. It’s my favorite book to go to when I need motivation and assist with something in my property. It is definitely a resource for creating.


Dreamscape Mural – $298

I’m always a fan of larger-than-life bits for your own walls. Sometimes they are precisely what you need to infuse your home with atmosphere. I love this dreamscape piece from Anthropologie.


Paper House Mobile by Creator B – $100

I really like phones; I seriously never tire of them. They tempt me to appear more, and that I enjoy a multi-leveled existence! This house cellphone is handmade and totally original.

Next: More eclectic picks

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