Thursday, February 3, 2011

A East to West Coast and Back Architectural Extravaganza

Today Your Mama's chosen to get off our usual celebrity real estate merry-go-round and do something a little different. Instead of peeping at the home of a superstar or c-list celebrity we're going to spin though a trio of architecturally mouth-watering residences owned by folks who may not be household names but are highly notable and seriously successful in their respective professions and endeavors.

First up, we head out to the Hamptons to a cedar-sided ocean-view hideaway owned by Chris Wink, a man whose claim to fame and fortune is as a c0-founder of the wildly profitable Blue Man Group performance franchise. A Blue Man Group performance, for those who don't know, consists of three mute individuals in weird smocks, latex bald caps and bright blue grease paint who bang sticks and other things on a lot of unconventional objects and elaborate PVC pipe constructions in order to make noise/music. The show got it's start during the late 1980s in New York City clubs and art venues like PS 122 in the East Village. Since then the concept has gone viral and in addition to New York City there are resident Blue Man Group troupes in Las Vegas, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo. A touring troupe takes the arty-farty gone way mainstream show to other cities around the country. The Blue Man Group recently branched out and opened a private pre- and primary-school in lower Manhattan called The Blue School where creative types like one of Your Mama's artist-mommy pals spend big bucks to educate their future Salvador Dalis.
Property records show Mister Wink and his graphic artist wife Jen purchased their Amagansett beach house in October of 2002 for $2,300,000. At some point Mister and Missus Wink had their house on the market with an asking price as high as $6,825,000 but the price eventually fell to $5,950,000 and listing information for the property now shows the house is not currently on the market.

Some of the exterior articulations of the 4,000 square foot beach house are admittedly challenging but the interior spaces, kitty cats, are dazzling. New York City-based architect David Ling designed the domicile upside down with the main living spaces on the second floor in order to take advantage of the ocean view over the protected dunes that sit between the house and the beach. Two entire walls of floor to ceiling glass panels in the living/ dining room slide open to a slim ocean side deck with panoramic views up and down the dunes and beach. Electronically controlled shades can be lowered or raised to modulate light and control summer time heat gain, an important feature in a house that does not, according to listing information, have a central air conditioning system.

The lower level, which includes the master bedroom and a double height ceder-paneled family room opens to a large land-side deck with an kooky mushroom shaped swimming pool with a long lap lane that bisects the house. A curvilinear and cantilevered extrusion on the second floor shields an outdoor shower, according to listing information. We swoon over the idea of a cantilevered outdoor shower with an ocean view but it really seems that shower would be far more practical if located on the lower level where it could be entered directly from the pool deck. It's an issue to be sure, but it's an issue this beehawtcha could live with iffin we were so lucky.

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty
On the Left Coast, in the nitty-gritty but far from cheap beach community of Venice, CA a vertical residence of concrete and glass designed by award winning architect Antoine Predock is on the market for $3,699,000. The property, according to property records, is owned by Eric Saarinen, the son of famous Finnish architect and designer Eero Saarinen.

For many years Mister Saarinen (the younger) worked as a the cinematographer with not exactly extra-impressive credits that include The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, Lost in America and The Hills Have Eyes. Since the mid-1980s he's been better known and far more successful as an award-winning director/cameraman for commercials, many of them for automobile concerns such as Chevy, BMW, Jeep and Fiat. His efforts have earned him five Clio awards, which are like the Academy Awards for the advertising business.

Property records show Mister Saarinen purchased the three story ocean front house in 1997 for $1,600,000 and listing information shows the three-story ocean front abode has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms in 3,356 square feet of interior space.

From the ocean side of the house the most distinct features include a cascade of water than slips quietly over a massive black granite slab and a wall-sized red-framed panel of glass that pivots dramatically and opens the double height main living space to the outdoors. This is a particularly amazing thing, but it's wise to keep in mind that on weekends the snaking concrete sidewalk that runs along the sand in Venice is chock-a-block full of people, from tourists, to junkies to roller skaters who in their minds think its 1978.

The open plan main living area includes a living are with fireplace, a dining area–furnished with his father's designs, natch–and a newly installed and shockingly expensive Antoine Predock-approved Bulthaup kitchen. A roof top terrace with 360-degree views is accessed by way of a double-wide staircase from a third floor ocean side terrace and a the garage will hold up to six automobiles, a million dollar feature to be sure in a very busy beach community where street parking is at best nerve-wracking and competitive and at worst chaotic and bloody.

listing photos: Lighthouse Properties
Back on the snow buffeted East Coast in a name brand boo-teek building full of name brand people in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, Swiss-born celebrity fashion photographer Raymond Meier has his minimalist family loft on the market with an asking price of $11,950,000. The monthly fees and taxes, according to listing information, run an astonishing $5,211 per month.

Mister Meier has shot thousands upon thousands of evocative images for fashion publications that include the New York Times, Flair, Harper's Bazaar and the various domestic and international versions of Vogue. American Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, thinks he's the bees knees. Mister Meier's vivid, mysterious and sometimes surreal images tell quirky high fashion stories. He doesn't work the psycho-sexual surreality of someone like David LaChapelle but his are not photos that will likely resonate much with the Ladies Home Journal crowd.

Property records show snap-happy Mister Meier purchased his high-floor spread in December of 2004 for $4,575,000. Listing information shows the full-floor stunner, located in the so-called New Museum Building, measures more than 4,200 square feet and includes 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. (For what it's worth, we count four bathrooms on the floor plan.) The building is so-called the New Museum Building because once upon a time The New Museum was located on the lower floors of the building. That art institution, dedicated to displaying contemporary art from around the world, has since flown the coop for bigger and better Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates (SANAA)-designed digs over on The Bowery.
We're not sure who's responsible for working out the tight tight tight floor plan held together by an extra-wide corridor that acts as the main organizing principal of the rigorous but user-friendly flow from the public rooms at the front of the apartment to more cozy family quarters at the rear.

Eight of the apartments 17 windows are located on three sides of the almost ludicrously long and barely furnished living/dining room. The original well-worn hardwood floors provide a thoughtful juxtaposition to the crisp white walls and the severely restricted palette of the minimal furnishings. Long horizontal concrete shelves reinforce the horizontal nature of the architecture and provide oodles of shelf space that Mister Meier and family used to display a large collection of mostly photographic artworks.

The simple and clean lined kitchen, open to the dining room, is fitted with sleek stainless steel cabinets, a work island/breakfast bar with a luxuriously thick slab of wood for a counter top, multiple convection ovens and a built in desk area. Behind the kitchen, off the short hall that connects the kitchen to the central traffic spine at the center the apartment, is a pass-through pantry so delicious it makes Your Mama sweat with envy.

The cozier quarters at the back of the apartment include a cluster of bedrooms each with en-suite facilities, built-in storage and large closets. At the very back corner a library/family room has floor to ceiling bookshelves full of actual books. The room is sparsely furnished with little more than a chunky gray sectional sofa and a Banquete chair with plush stuffed alligators by Brazilian brothers Fernando and Humbert Campana. Your Mama predicts many of the children will scoff at and mock that wacky alligator chair but those things are so expensive that high-design über retailer Moss doesn't even list the damn price. We don't care what anyone else says about how they're useless and silly, Your Mama would remove our own spleen to own one. An adjacent study ensures all the messiness of computers, bills and household matters stays contained.

The New Museum Building has long attracted high profile and big money types. Hotelier Andre Balazs reportedly lived in the building until 2007, the same year that rock star Jon Bon Jovi famously paid $24,000,000 for a colossale duplex penthouse with 6 bedrooms and 6.5 poopers. Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff's son Mark resided in the building until he hung himself in with a dog's leash in December of 2010.

In May of 2006 a high floor apartment was purchased for $10,000,000. Some reports say the 4,700 square foot sprawler was purchased by multi-billionaire David Geffen while other suggest that Mister Geffen merely acts as a trustee for the property and that the apartment is actually owned and occupied by Marci Klein, the multi-Emmy-winning producer daughter of 65-year old senior citizen fashion designer Calvin Klein who currently pals around town with a nubile 21-year old male model who looks suspiciously and disturbingly like a very young Calvin Klein.

Earlier today Jennifer Gould Keil at the New York Post reported that actress Juliana Margulies took a spin through the Mister Meier's apartment. No word on what she thought but iffin Your Mama was Miz Margulies we'd snatch this place up tout de suite even though we have zero desire to live in the consumerist mecca that SoHo has become the last 15 year and it would pain our soul to spend ten million plus bucks on a New York City pad that didn't offer even a square foot of outdoor space.

listing photos and floor plan: Prudential Douglas Elliman


Anonymous said...

Back in the early '80's I was a waiter with Chris Wink at Glorious Foods, once the default caterer for New York's rich and famous charity and private events. He and a couple of other guys who also worked with us were just developing the Blue Man idea. Sean Driscoll, one of the partners in Glorious, was very supportive of all the guys who worked for him as cater waiters to support their artistic endeavors. They could have had no idea what would become of Blue Man. It's pure chance that they made millions. I mean they were trying to be performance artists! Only in New York.

me. said...

I love looking at beautiful homes! What a great/fun industry. I work for Street Sotheby's International Realty in Columbus, Ohio, and am lucky enough to get to tour amazing homes for my job! I post about my job as a young realor a lto on my blog. Check it out Keep posting great properties!

Madam Pince said...

I've always considered myself a die-hard East Coaster, but I believe I could be a very happy chicklet in Mister Saarinen the Younger's home. Swoon

Anonymous said...

The cement house and the apartment are fine, if one would feel comfortable living in them. But I learned from bitter experience not to build a redwood sided house in the countryside. I did just that in Virginia years back and found that mice infiltrate between the inner drywall and the outside wood; that borer bees (they exist) will bore holes in the wood to make bee-nests and that the wood will warp somewhat which it should not, etc., etc. In short nothing but trouble. Snakes in the area can eliminate the mice; but if you have dogs, they will shoo away the snakes. So it was dogs and mice or else snakes and no dogs. I sold and moved to Arizona. Here there are only termites to worry about.

Anonymous said...

I think it must have been 'Curbed' that wrote about that Venice pad. I really like it but I'd definitely need to change the interiors ... the flooring in the main room would drive me crazy [being 2 toned] but other than that I love it. Though I think I would prefer the Venice Canals - prettier, quieter & closer to Abbot Kinney.

Love the Soho loft but I'm not sure I could pay $10M & not have a terrace. I also can't imagine living slap bang on Mercer ... I can imagine Saturdays would be hell on earth & you wouldn't want to step out your building door. Think I'd sooner head to Tribeca or a brownstone in the West Village.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance, but does maintainance in most NYC coops/condos cover real estate taxes?

Reason I ask is $5200 is a lot for the doorman and super, but if it includes real estate taxes, then it's reasonable. After all, here in LA a $10mm house would have monthly taxes of $10000+...and that's not including any upkeep!

Anonymous said...

Tons o fun, Mama. I'm MUCH more interested in the architectural aspect of your column than the celebrity angle. Please do more of this!

Anonymous said...

There's no way the $5200 also covers taxes. Anywhere from $2K-$6K is fairly normal monthly maintenance for Soho/Tribeca etc.. Though in some buildings you can see $10K/$15K/$20K per month.

Jeannified said...

Love those glourious spaces...especially Mr. Wink's.

lil' gay boy said...

I can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek application of PhotoShop color, but as an Island Boy I can attest that although the Atlantic can indeed, in certain light conditions, be a pleasing azure, it is simply not that blue...


A lovely Hamptons getaway, nonetheless.

And I can certainly agree with my siblings that $10MM with no terrace is abominable ––– yet I do enjoy the specific energy that an ordinary weeknight on Mercer provides.

Anonymous said...

Mama's claim that the monthly fees & taxes run $5,211 looks accurate: the Prudential Douglas Elliman ad 158 Mercer Street, Penthouse B (click on link) for the Raymond Meier loft lists monthly maintenance/common charges as $2,861 and monthly real estate taxes as $2,350. The confusion is understandable; condo ads often break out the two charges.

Note that the ad's floorplan fails to include a compass, so you can't tell if the loft is on the front (west) or back of the building (east) - the east side faces Broadway and gets all that great late-night noise from buses, the subway, commercial trucks, drunken revelers and garbage trucks - and in NYC that might mean different carting companies for each (commercial) business. The nighttime noise fest is just one reason why people don't stay in SoHo for long and why new buyers are often recently divorced (Rupert Murdoch), starting over (Andre Balazs), from out-of-town (Hank Azaria) or just plain rich (Jon Bon Jovi) & clueless (fill in the blank.)

Windowless bathrooms are the dirty secret of Manhattan lofts - and the lack of proper ventilation wears thin real fast. Only 1 of the 3.5 bathrooms in the Meier loft has a window. Ugh.

The tight tight tight floor plan, well-worn floors (Brava Mama!) and the bowling alley effect of that long corridor seem kinda meagre for $12 mil, as does the expression "full time doorman" in the Elliman ad: "full-time" is not the same thing as "24 hour" or "round-the-clock." And naming the condo The New Museum Building is just plain cheesy when the New Museum is now on Bowery.

The place looks appealing in the staged photos, but the buyers are gonna be Unhappy Hipsters about a month after movin in.

Anonymous said...

Agreeing with lil gay boy above- the acid-trip coloring of the Amagansett photo doesn't do anyone any favors. Who at the RE agency thought that looked good?

Agreeing also with Anon above, the Meier loft is on a noisy, busy part of B'way, not ideal for that price.

Anonymous said...

It was a friend of mine's apartment that sold for $10,000,000... to Marci Klein (Calvin's daughter)