Recapturing Industrial Roots in a NYC Loft

Text by Russell Simon

Photography by Peter Dressel


Brooklyn-based architect Steve Yang, owner of Steven M. Yang Architect LLC, has infused Boho-chic into a quaint, 800-square-foot loft hideaway in downtown Tribeca.

Built in 1915, the building had primarily been used as a manufacturing space. Nearly 70 years later, the building was repurposed for residential units. However, several shortcuts were taken during the conversion process. As demolition began, it became increasingly clear that the clients had purchased a lemon.


“This can be deflating for many clients with a strict budget,” said Yang, “but they were open to alternate design ideas and embraced an organic process. Their intention was clear – make lemonade.”

While the space was filled with potential, several costly repairs were needed to ensure the building was safe and met all current state and city regulations. Significant upgrades were made to both the fireproofing and sound insulation of the unit.

“The existing plumbing work was an absolute mess and had to be completely redone,” continued Yang.

Despite the added expenses, Yang worked with the clients to ensure their vision for the finished space would not be compromised. “I was on the lookout to balance cost and aesthetics,” added Yang.

Yang took the initiative to further help control costs by adding the roles of construction manager and site supervisor to his design responsibilities.

“Those three months nearly did me in,” laughed Yang, who rolled up his sleeves to move several extremely heavy boxes of tiles, among other items. “On the plus side, being on site every day enabled me to find opportunities to create bespoke details without having to rectify all of the existing construction.”

Yang believed it was important to remain true to the industrial roots of the building. As a result, many of the interior finishes were left rough. Yang added dimension to the space by exposing hand-hewn columns and engineered beams. Yang specially chose hardware that would successfully integrate the newer, more modern look of the loft with the architectural history of both the building and neighborhood.

“By fluctuating between heavy cast iron pieces and sleek chrome fittings, I created an environment that juxtaposes old and new.”

The double-height living space was outfitted with a multitude of lighting options to offset the lack of direct sunlight from the courtyard-facing windows. The clients' collection of antiqued furnishings filled the space, and their vintage decorations adorned the walls.

The open kitchen with blackened-steel backsplash and reclaimed wood accents highlights the contrast between the different finishes. The bar stools create an intimate yet informal feel, and the larger dining room provides an ideal space for entertaining.

The reading niche creates a quiet, private space for reading and reflecting.

A large shower stall and twin, flush-mounted rain heads provide the bathroom with a spacious, luxury feel while also accounting for the lower mezzanine ceilings.

See photos of the from the renovation here: