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Weil Townhouse
Greenwich Village, New York

This townhouse, built in 1840 and converted to a rooming house in 1925, has a setting unusual for New York: although there is a street entrance, the main access is through a gate leading to a private entry court shared by four townhouses. We used this setting to explore the duality between the street and the garden.

The deteriorated condition of the building required it to be completely re-built, with a new structure inserted within three of the old masonry walls. The street facade was restored to preserve its historic character as an integral part of the neighborhood fabric. But once the courtyard is entered, the rear wall presents a surprise: a taught aluminum and glass skin designed both to clearly signal the modern idea of townhouse living and to let the maximum amount of light and air into the interior. The two entrances helped set up the house as a two-family residence: the rental unit accessible from the street, and the owner’s triplex through the rear garden by a generous entry stair inserted into the space bounded by vine-covered walls of adjacent buildings.

photo: J.B. Grant