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The much-maligned building at 290 Mulberry Street—called Mulberry House—is trying to show that its whats on the inside that counts. SHoP Architects have filled their heavily-critiqued rippling brick residential structure with a bright interior awash in wood, black lacquer, and polished white surfaces. The new development is a conclusive step in a project that once appeared destined to fall victim to the recent recession.
Saddled with zoning regulations that demanded a “predominantly masonry” facade, the New York–based firm responded by designing an undulating brick curtain wall that has drawn decidedly mixed reviews from locals and critics alike. With its controversial exterior in place, the project was beset by economic difficulties that forced the initial developers to sell the property in 2011. Under the guidance of Karass Development the former condos were reimagined as rentals, and SHoP returned to complete their design.
Whereas its facade speaks to the 19th century brick buildings that populate Manhattan’s Nolita (North of Little Italy) neighborhood, the interior of Mulberry House seems to look across the Atlantic for its inspiration. The luxe materials, color scheme, and geometric patterns scattered throughout the lobby and across the surfaces of furniture all evoke the architecture of the Vienna Secession. If stylistically the space is evocative of the stylistic innovations of Josef Hoffman and Otto Wagner among others, the building is well-equipped with modern amenities like private keyed elevators, radiant-heat walnut flooring, and over-sized windows.