MacIntyre BuildingA view from the top provides a glimpse at design history
This converted loft in New York's historic MacIntyre Building, now home to architect Woodson Rainey, was built in 1892 for a well-to-do chemist named Ewen McIntyre—the extra "a" in the building's moniker is thanks to a mural in the entryway that mispelled the chemist's surname. While never inhabited by McIntyre, the building, which overlooks Washington Square Park, soon attained landmark status for its “unspeakable eclecticism,” according to the American Institute-Architects. The neo-Romanesque exterior, for instance, represents a hodgepodge of architectural materials and styles, evident in the terracotta Byzantine columns, yellow-brick Romanesque arches and Gothic finials.
Upon moving into the twelve-story high-rise, Rainey oversaw a comprehensive, non-intrusive renovation of the penthouse. The lighting fixtures, sash windows and plaster moldings are all original details, remnants of 19th century taste. When it came time to furnish the space, Rainey looked to the ebb and flow of architectural history for inspiration. “We mixed several Knoll classics [in] with their Stickley forebears and some anonymous pieces,” Rainey explains, calling the end result, “an appropriate assembly [for] an evolving architectural envelope.”
“The Knoll pieces seemed inevitable [and] have been acquired for their beauty, function and durability.”
According to Rainey, the incorporation of Knoll pieces “seemed inevitable.” “The Brno Chairs, Laccio Coffee and Side Tables and Florence Knoll Credenza, all beautifully designed and made, have been acquired separately for their beauty, function and durability.” To the right of the credenza hangs one in a series of Giclée prints hand-painted by Rainey and based on the architect Louis Sullivan’s book A System of Architectural Ornament. Partially a symbolic gesture, the prints acknowledge modernism’s collective debt. “Everybody […] owes Sullivan,” Rainey says of the architect’s importance, “the line runs from Louis Sullivan to Frank Lloyd Wright, Bauhaus to Knoll.” Given his respect for history, it’s not surprising that Rainey sees time as a vital asset for his practice, adding, “Over the years, if you are lucky, you accumulate the best furniture for your needs.”
Architecture: Robert Henderson Robertson
Design: Woodson Rainey