An Artful Debut

An Artful Debut

Kevin Kunsdat

Many New York architects start their firms with apartment renovations or a house for a family member. For Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich, principals of Peterson Rich Office, a small, freestanding painting studio has been an ideal first project.

The pair started their office two years ago after working for five years for Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and Steven Holl, respectively. “It was really special for us that it’s a ground up building,” said Peterson.


Clad in vertical blackened cedar planks, and topped with an asymmetrical pitched roof with a slot of skylights, the studio is surrounded by a cantilevered deck that appears to float. Though the client paints large-scale landscapes, she did not want views outside, so only two openings break the building’s envelope, a monumental door and window, each 12 and a half feet high. Exposed pine boards and lighting concealed in the tops of the freestanding white walls warm the interior.


Peterson and Rich acknowledge their professional mentors’ influence on their work. “We were both lucky to work for firms we deeply admire,” said Rich. “Certainly phenomenology and attention to light and materials informs the way we approach projects,” he said, citing Holl’s influence. “For me, detailing and the way things are put together played a large role in the design,” said Peterson, reflecting the values of Williams and Tsien.

After completing the studio, residential and cultural work, including two gallery projects, has quickly followed. But that has not overshadowed how gratifying it is for them to see their first building in use. “Seeing the paintings she has produced since she has been in the space has been the most rewarding part of all,” said Rich.