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Workac renovates New York’s Obsidian House

Bruce Damonte

Behind one of New York’s most beautiful and oldest cast-iron facades, local architecture firm WORKac has converted a former factory and warehouse into modern apartments adding a new penthouse on the roof.

The Obsidian House Apartment is a beautiful, mid-range apartment in Manhattan that has a very charming European ambiance. Located on the upper east side of Manhattan Island, this apartment is well out of the way and has some fantastic views.

The building itself is quite tall, with a dark brick wall surrounding the top of it. On one side of the building are the apartments that are up for sale, which is fully furnished.

Living in the Obsidian House is quite easy as you’re close to everything; the location is ideal, and walking distances are short. This is a great location for an apartment if you like to commute to work every day. Plus, with the great views of Manhattan Island, it’s a retreat for you to wake up to every day.

This apartment building has maintenance services for each unit. This is also another advantage you can enjoy, so you don’t have to be bothered even by the most minimal of all work or repairs that need to be done.

If you’re looking for a furnished apartment, the Obsidian House is a great place to find the type of apartment you’re looking for since they have plenty of things to choose from. The prices vary a lot, and this will depend on how much you want to spend. 

Many people find this a wonderful place to live, and it’s a very popular place for people who want to live in the center of the action in New York City. The building is not only appealing to young professionals but also to people who are looking for a place to relax and to raise a family. All the more that this appeal increased when WORKac did its major renovations on the building.

For the apartment interiors and public area, WORKac created spaces that combine nature-inspired elements and systems with new ideas about urban living. From the tessellated green wall at the lobby to generous planters and balconies at the second, sixth and seventh floors, connections to the outdoors are emphasized. This feature makes the living space feel more airy and homey. It’s a tad bit different from that usual feeling of living in an apartment where you feel claustrophobic. Additionally, if you can’t have a garden within your home, the renovations made by  WORKac now provide this for all the dwellers at the Obsidian House.

Within each apartment, a “third space” between bedrooms and living spaces is created at the top of the volume containing storage and bathrooms. Less than four-feet high, this “bonsai apartment” is outfitted with a futon, seating areas, and an herb garden above the kitchen. Its main feature is a fern garden connected to the master shower below. Steam from the shower collects on the glass walls of the garden and waters the plants.

Take a look at this photo below. You don’t even have to bother watering the plants anymore as you’re doing this when you shower. It’s perfect for NYC dwellers or tourists who are always on the go. The sitting area right above the kitchen is also a great way to maximize the space of an otherwise small apartment. If you just want to have that quiet time or be by yourself when people are around, you have that cozy little nook right up there.

If you fancy these kinds of designs, you can work with an excellent contractor, such as Advance Remodeling, to ensure a job well done.


At the penthouse, the shape of the roof follows a system of sloping peaks and valleys designed to sit behind the roofline, to minimize the addition’s impact on the view of the building from the street while re-claiming as much “invisible” space as possible for the interior.

The penthouse combines sleeping spaces and a family room within the old fifth floor of the building with new entertaining and dining spaces under the new roof at the sixth floor. A secluded terrace is sunken behind the pediment with views to the Woolworth Building; the old elevator bulkhead is repurposed with a hot tub. The height afforded by angle formed by the cone-of-vision allows for a rear mezzanine with views toward downtown and the Freedom Tower.


The 1857 façade of the Obsidian House was completely restored. The new charcoal color chosen by WORKac references the building’s history of being painted in dark contrast with its lighter neighbors. As all of the building’s Corinthean column capitols had been lost to history, WORKac collaborated with the artist Michael Hansmeyer to create new versions. Hansmeyer created a computer script that allowed the classical floral elements of the Corinthean order to “grow” fractally, resulting in a new design that adheres to the old proportions but is composed of clearly new forms and idiosyncrasies. Like the rooftop addition, these capitals at first glance appear quite ordinary; it is only on closer inspection that the stealthy strategy of strategic injection of contemporary design becomes clear.

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all images © Bruce Damonte