8 Modern Renovations
MINIMAL INTERESTS: A BROOKLYN COUPLE
REHABILITATE A 19TH-CENTURY DUPLEX
Project: Carved Duplex
By: William Lamb
Alex Gil and Claudia DeSimio created a duplex in an apartment building where they’d been renting for years in Brooklyn, New York, and set to work gutting the interior and adding a new rooftop addition clad in panels of Cor-Ten steel.
There was no long-term plan—no master vision— in play when Alex Gil and Claudia DeSimio rented a 500-square-foot railroad apartment on the third floor of an old tenement building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2004. Gil, an architect, and DeSimio, who works in finance, were motivated by pure pragmatism: They needed to flee an apartment in a bland midtown Manhattan high-rise that simply cost too much.
They established that the building was constructed no later than 1887, under the city’s oldest tenement law, and therefore could legally do without an elevator and other modern adjustments.
But it wasn’t long before the couple started getting ideas. What if they bought the apartment, they wondered? They daydreamed about installing a Murphy bed as well as a couch and a dining table, all of which would fold into the walls to create an experience...