An airy apartment renovation in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood demonstrates that minimal doesn’t necessarily have to mean minimalist. Designed by Galen Pardee under his firm Drawing Agency and brought to life by Clear Concept Construction, the Harlem Studio is a case study in modernizing otherwise anonymous midcentury New York apartments. The existing two-bedroom, 900-square-foot unit was modified into a live-work studio space for two artists, whose own work enlivens and colorizes the home.
From 2019–2021, Pardee served as the LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture, where his research focused on material extraction, supply chains, and embodied carbon. The design of the Harlem Studio had actually begun before Pardee took this post in Columbus, but his research performed there changed the direction of the project when it resumed after the pandemic. “After [the fellowship] in Ohio, getting more into supply chains and materials, I started rethinking [the gut renovation] a lot,” Pardee told AN Interior. “So the second time around, I was able to work with the contractor to actually only demolish one closet and a little bit of another.” This proof of concept—that an interesting project doesn’t have to require a tabula rasa—plays out in a restrained and focused design effort that nonetheless yields a unique personality.
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