All posts by Marlene Ridgway

Tread Carefully

Fashion brands held to the highest style standards are now being called on to create unforgettable designs, responsibly.

The footwear industry poses a few hard-to-answer questions when it comes to sustainability. The amount of waste generated in the production phase is staggering and the options for recycling post-consumption are challenging due to the wide variety of materials used.

For example, rubber and leather are difficult to recycle and the chemicals used, such as glues and dyes, can be detrimental to the environment. Despite the many obstacles, there are companies that are more than up to the challenge.

Photo courtesy of Rothy’s

Model with shoes photo by kerstin jacobsen

ALINASCHUERFELD, named after its founder, is the perfect example of a fashion-forward company offering high-end products without harming the environment along the way. “We are galvanizing the way to a fair and sustainable fashion industry, built upon the powerful human and planetary principles of respect and responsibility,” says the founder and CEO, Alina Schürfeld. “I am using fashion as a tool to create consciousness; the products tell a story about traditional craftsmanship, quality, and appreciation.”

From the beginning, Schürfeld knew she wanted to create well-crafted, distinctive pieces, and sustainability was always the starting point. “The fashion industry has disastrous, often irreparable socio-cultural and ecological effects,” says Schürfeld. This is why her company utilizes salmon leather and chrome-free tanning, which help to reduce chemicals and limit waste.

Leather tanning is the process that transforms animal hides into a durable and long-lasting material that will not quickly decompose. However, the approach involves harsh chemicals that not only contain dangerous carcinogens but can contribute to harmful runoff. To avoid certain hazardous chemicals, ALINASCHUERFELD uses leather that is tanned with chrome-free, vegetable-, or rhubarb-based substances.

Additionally, the eco-conscious company uses bio-certified salmon leather, which would otherwise be disposed of and wasted. “I was inspired by the idea of adding extra value to a former waste product that was discarded from the processing fish industry,” Schürfeld says. Salmon leather provides the same durability as traditional leather and offers a unique texture that contributes to the style of the shoe.

The texture of the salmon leather is clearly preserved and adds to the individual design.

Photos courtesy of Alinaschuerfeld

 

Rothy’s, another unforgettable brand, proposes fashion crafted mainly from the dreaded, post-consumer plastic water bottle.

This sustainable footwear company is growing in popularity, not only because of the big names that are sporting its shoes, like Kristen Bell, Amy Adams and Meghan Markle, but due to the company’s admirable goal to create shoes without leaving behind waste. The Flat, the Point, the Loafer, and the Sneaker are made from recycled PET plastic — a widely-used packaging material — that is transformed into yarn and then 3D knitted, according to Rothy’s. Even the foam and the rubber used for the soles of the shoes are made from recycled materials and designed to reduce waste.

The company emerged in 2015 when co-founders Stephen Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin realized comfortable and fashionable flats were hard to come by. Once understanding the amount of waste that’s created in the footwear industry, they decided on a sustainable process. Rothy’s 3D knitting process reduces waste significantly compared to other companies. The entire procedure from the plastic bottles to the minimalist shoe box has been streamlined in terms of sustainability.

Already, 25 million water bottles have been saved from a lifetime at the bottom of the ocean and transformed, according to Rothy’s. The sophisticated designs and brilliant colors are professional enough for the office, stylish enough for a night out, and comfortable enough for a day of adventure. Rothy’s also offers a collection of kids shoes that are lasting and easy to care for in a variety of prints such as flames, rainbows, and more.

Photos courtesy of Rothy’s

Responsible footwear continues to be a new kind of luxury that facilitates fast-paced and fashion-forward customers. “VEERAH is inspired by women, made for warriors,” says Stacey Chang, founder of VEERAH. “We are a mission-driven luxury shoe company founded for women to conquer the world in style and make a positive impact.”

The company works with a variety of groundbreaking materials that are cruelty-free and non-harmful for the environment, making the brand stand out among others. With sustainability in mind, VEERAH uses cork, which is durable, soft, and water-resistant, as well as post-consumer PET plastic bottle fabric, vegan calfskin, and even apple peel skin. This revolutionary bio-based vegan leather comes from actual apples harvested in the Italian Alps. The peels are dried, ground into a fine powder, and transformed into a breathable and sturdy material that is perfect for crafting footwear.

“As a socially and environmentally conscious woman, it was essential for me to create a versatile collection that aligned with my own personal values. I knew that sustainability and luxury could harmoniously coexist when you combine smart sourcing and thoughtful design,” according to Chang. Chang decided to start VEERAH when she couldn’t find a shoe that was sustainable and vegan. Every aspect of VEERAH shoes, from the fabric and the soles to the ink used for the packaging, are designed to effectively reduce landfill waste and limit toxic chemicals.

VEERAH’s apple peel skin is a sustainable, vegan alternative to traditional leather.

Photos courtesy of VEERAH

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Must-Haves for the Season

Depending on the place you call home, the changing seasons may bring cooler weather, warmer fashion, and the beginning of holiday festivities.

If you’re looking to upgrade your closet, find a gift, or treat yourself, here are a few luxurious must-haves for the upcoming months of fall foliage, breezy temperatures, and autumn decor.

Must-Have Sustainable Coffee Mugs

Sustainable is a concept that is here to stay. The increasing awareness about single-use plastic and our threatened environment has sparked an interest in sustainable everything. If you’re switching from iced coffee to steaming tea and hot cocoa, try a ceramic travel mug that will eliminate single-use cups. The ceramic mugs are stylish and functional.

Photos courtesy of Kim Wallace Ceramics

A Wraparound Shawl/Pashmina

These travel wraps are perfect for breezy mornings that require a few extra layers. Muted tones and woven from fine merino wool, these scarves can add a touch of style to your outfit. Later in the day if the chill is gone, the items are lightweight and can easily be stowed away in your bag or in your desk.

 

Photos courtesy of Tolly McRae

A Rainy Day Necessity

A functional and fun umbrella is perfect for unexpected weather. Whether you’re running errands or headed to a business meeting, there’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain. Don’t let unpredictable weather ruin your day or your style. Find a compact umbrella that fits into your style. Nothing brightens up a rainy afternoon like an umbrella that perfectly suits your personality. 

Photo courtesy of Sophie Allport

Art and Greenery

Photo courtesy of Bex Parkin

Photo courtesy of AUDENZA

Shorter days, cooler nights and less time to spend outdoors can leave some days feeling rather dull. Brighten up your space with a touch of greenery, such as a new plant or a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. A low maintenance option would be a cheerful piece of art that brings life into rooms that can feel drab in the upcoming months.

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Tropical Decor Becomes Luxury

Tropical decor is a bold statement that can be difficult to balance. Avoid over-the-top details and learn how to embrace muted accents and elements that elevate a space without making it too whimsical. 

If tropical brings to mind luxurious retreats and dream vacations, you may want to incorporate the look into your home. Here are a few tips for bringing tropical to a high-end level that you’ll love throughout the seasons.

 

Photo courtesy of English Blinds

Bold Wallpaper

Most tropical decor involves a playful wallpaper or large piece of art. There are a variety of quality wallpaper brands that can help create an oasis of color and charm for your space. Have fun with your wallpaper, there are many to choose from and it is the quickest way to transform a space. 

Photo courtesy of  Wallsauce.com

Add Foliage

Tropical prints are just the beginning. If you are looking for an authentic feel and want to avoid a staged look, incorporate real tropical greenery that will play off accents, prints and other details in your decor. A snake plant or peace lily truly capture the tropical feel, yet they are low maintenance and easy to care for. Greenery can also bring out muted tones that might appear in prints. 

Photo courtesy of Mindthegap

Try Traditional 

Fun details can be luxurious. Black and white, monochromatic, or muted prints can still embrace tropical imagery. A palm tree wallpaper or a pink flamingo statute can be toned down in terms of color, allowing more flexibility in your decor. Don’t shy away from traditional items but the balance between just enough and too much is delicate.

Photo courtesy of Brabbu Design Forces

Keep it Neutral

Neutral tones help to balance bright colors and bold shapes that appear in tropical wallpapers and prints. If you’ve decided on a statement wallpaper and you’re worried about overwhelming your senses, it helps to choose natural accents such as wood furniture and flooring. Light grays and white also tone down the intensity of a space. 

Photo courtesy of Essential Home

Mix and Match

If you want to truly embrace the tropical sentiment, be bold and confident with your choices. For an earthy tropical feel, mixing a variety of prints that play off of each other with color palettes that work together will bring your space to life. Mixing and matching prints, designs and elements can come together to create a luxurious balance. 

Photo courtesy of Essential Home

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Stretch the Limits With New Workout Equipment

You’ve found a place dedicated to your morning workout and upgraded your space with the finest finishes, now it’s time to bring the best equipment home. 

Don’t settle for unattractive workout equipment, choose from colorful designs, enchanting patterns and the finest materials for your routine. Long gone are the days of plastic water bottles, dull workout mats, and beat up gym bags. Athletes and enthusiasts are searching for equipment that will brighten their workouts and spark envy at the gym.

Yoga Design Lab offers a variety of mats, blocks, kids mats, towels, exercise balls, and other equipment that are nothing short of works of art. Whether you’re a beginner or the owner of your own home studio, these choices make the perfect addition to any session, a thoughtful gift, or the fun source of motivation you’ve been missing. 

Yoga Design Lab stemmed from a desire for creativity and function, along with bio-renewable consciousness. Praised around the world for its wide variety of products and designs, the company continues to expand and create enviable yoga and other workout essentials. 

Embrace color on and off the mat.

Infinity Mats

Beauty meets premium performance. The natural tree rubber base with an ultra-grip laser cut surface helps align your practice.

Combo Mats

Redefining yoga mats. Mat and towel combined in one product. Made from recycled plastic bottles and designed to be awesome.

Towels

Experience how this non-slip, super absorbent, microfiber yoga towel takes your practice to the next level.

Wheels

Achieve backbends smoothly, loosen tight muscles, and add creativity to your practice with the Yoga Wheel.

Bags

Carry your mat and essentials to class or run away to a deserted island for the weekend. It’s got you.

Props

Luxury yoga straps, blocks, balls designed to support you in the most beautiful way and stretch further.
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Flowers & Diamonds

The delicate and fleeting beauty of nature has been preserved in Earth’s hardest natural substance resulting in the perfect combination of jewelry and flowers.

Jewelry inspired by flowers is not a new idea, but an enduring concept. When a stunning color or intricate design appears naturally that delicacy is what makes it memorable. Solidifying these two elements creates a unique union of fragility and strength that can last throughout the years. Diamonds, the hardest natural substance, exist far beneath the Earth’s surface for millions of years and the fragile life of a flower only blooms for a short time before it is gone. The perfect balance has been achieved in these pieces.

There’s no longer a need to choose between flowers and diamonds when selecting the perfect gift or adding to a collection. Whether it’s a ring, necklace or brooch these examples are the best of both worlds.

Alex Soldier’s Cornoair Brooch

Alex Soldier offers a multifunctional piece that is an unforgettable representation of nature. “Flower motifs celebrate life in its many beautiful manifestations,” says Alex Soldier, the president of the self-titled company. With the same intricacy found in a flower, the Cornoair Brooch with Mandarin garnet and colored diamonds appears as a work of art that can be cherished throughout the years.

Handmade in New York City, the piece is adaptable and can be worn as a brooch, ring, necklace, or a cuff. Soldier explains that in jewelry design there is “passion in detail.” The brooch is made of 18 karat rose gold and over 800 stones, including light and dark champagne diamonds, chocolate and black bead diamonds, rubies and more.

Photo courtesy of Alex Soldier

The Flower Diamond

 

The Flower Diamond stands out among other gems because of the flower-shaped inclusion that appears as if it has bloomed in the center of the stone. The pear-shaped, modified brilliant-cut diamond encases a perfectly symmetrical, six-petal flower, making it a natural marvel. Similar to a snowflake, the pattern that appears in the heart of the 3.02 carat diamond is one-of-a-kind.

Originally discovered in the jungles of Minas Gerais, Brazil and recut to showcase the flower shape, the main stone was mounted in a gorgeous, platinum necklace with a total of 32 carats of diamonds. John Humbert, the owner of Sterling Promise Inc. says, “You need to see it with your own eyes to understand how incredible it is. It’s hard to believe it occurred naturally.”

 

Photo courtesy of Sterling Promise Inc.

The White Gold Flower Ring

 

“There is something very romantic and beautiful about the simplicity of a flower,” according to Lauren Wolf, the owner/president of Lauren Wolf Jewelry. The White Gold Flower Ring has a 3.18 carat cognac diamond that is speckled with intricate inclusions that adds to the organic quality of the ring. Serving as the petals, are champagne marquis diamonds that are shockingly clear, according to Wolf.

“I’m attracted to the floral motifs from the late Victorian period and the early 20th century,” she says. “The idea that this symbol can carry such a special meaning throughout time is powerful.” The ring generates a sense of imperfect natural beauty that is typical in flowers.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Lauren Wolf Jewelry

Gold Astra Brooch With White And Black Diamonds

 

With the true detail found in a flower and the power of a stunning diamond, the Gold Astra Brooch is an unforgettable union of two iconic symbols. “Aster flowers have long been symbols of enchantment and mysterious allure,” according to Soldier. The 127 stones that make up the piece contribute to the authentic feel and overall romantic allure that Alex Soldier manages to capture.

Photo courtesy of Alex Soldier

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Luxury Boho: Its Many Different Forms

Boho may bring overwhelming patterns and a mix and match style of colors to mind but these refined expressions of boho are bringing a whole new touch of elegance and class to the term. 

Choose the bohemian blend that is perfect for you and your home.

Photo courtesy of Sweetpea & Willow

Photo courtesy of ABSTRACT HOUSE

African Boho

When many people think of boho style, they think of African inspired bohemia, namely the bright colors, clashing prints and metal tones that are often introduced into the décor of a boho themed living space. Include lanterns, jewel-colored cushions, and ottoman style seating to achieve this laid back vibe.

European Boho

European boho is a little more refined in its mix and match approach, though strives to look spontaneous. European style boho is characterized by vintage style furniture paired with rustic beaded curtains and quirky wall art. Layers, mixed fabrics, and statement wall décor will make or break this look.

Photo courtesy of Lights4fun

Photo courtesy of Flo & Joe

Western Boho

The 1960s and 70s saw a resurgence in bohemian style, one that was influenced by community living that became a prominent characteristic of the counter culture. The western bohemian style relies heavily on natural materials and fabrics to complete the aesthetic. Think exposed beams, tribal prints and pouffe’s or floor cushions rather than traditional seating.

Contemporary Boho

So what’s happening now with Boho style? Contemporary Boho style borrows from its processors but combines elements of the classic boho styles with modern minimalist living. Think white walls and floors, wicker seating and animal head wall art. Cushions and rugs add splashes of color while décor pieces can range from vintage to African to contemporary.

Photo courtesy of Melody Maison

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Overwhelming Perceptions

Bruce T. Martin uses photographs as words to create a vivid story about the culture and history of Mayan caves and cenotes of the Yucatan and more.

Photography by Bruce T. Martin

“In 1975, my father gave me a Pentad Spotomatic 35 mm camera, that I still have today,” says Bruce T. Martin, an American Fine Arts photographer. Even early on Martin didn’t pursue other careers or jobs outside of photography. Initially, his interest in cameras and capturing moments sparked when he was studying abroad in Europe 1976 and he’s been studying the art form ever since. Now, Martin explains that he takes a literary approach to his photography. “Images combine like words do in a sentence to tell a story,” he says. “My motivation is to use photography to document our world, explore our perceptions and question our viewpoints. ”

 

Martin grew up in Chautauqua County in western New York where he studied at Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. His connection to photography continued to grow even building a darkroom in his parent’s basement and later began apprenticing for Irving Penn in New York City. “That experience opened my thinking to a whole new world of possibilities,” says Martin. Although the young photographer already had an affinity to landscape photography, his job at the Chautauqua County Office of Planning and Development led to a deep appreciation for architectural structures. One responsibility of Martin’s new job was to “contact the owners of interesting and important architectural structures in the community to secure permission to photograph their homes and buildings.”

 

Gruata Milenio, Yucatán 2012

In terms of style, the photographer has “tried to combine the excellence of many photographers such as the technical mastery of Ansel Adams, the unique viewpoints of Andres Kertesz and the eloquence of Irving Penn, to name a few,” says Martin. However, from a technical point of view, Martin describes his approach as direct. “Positioning my camera in a place where I believe will reveal what I feel is most important to the image … then waiting for or creating the lighting that best reveals the detail and color to express the emotion and purpose of the image.”

As an artist, Martin is always working on a number of projects such as a larger portfolio of Boston cityscape and architecture. A series called “Fragment Landscape” is also in the works and involves overlapping images gathered in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. However, there has been one persisting project that Martin has been expanding on since 1987.

“I have been working on a project on the Maya of Central America, using historical documents, academic research, and current events in conjunction with my photography and recordings from the field,” according to Martin. The first phase of the project resulted in the book and exhibit, “Look Close See Far, A Cultural Portrait of Maya”, and has now progressed into the next component. “Seeking Sacred Landscapes, Maya Caves and Cenotes of the Yucatan”. Martin describes the project as, “beautiful, mysterious, and compelling.”

The series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” is a combination of images of the Yucatan’s caves and cenotes with archeological, historical, and environmental essays by established authorities, according to the experienced photographer. Martin’s images compel you to look closer at the detail that has formed over the years within nature.

It’s hard to imagine what being in those types of caves would be like, but Martin describes it as a time full of anticipation. “Knowing that I will experience and learn something new each time fills my mind as I begin the descent into these underground chambers.” This experience has been building over the years. When the project first began Martin became interested in many of the Mayan’s core mythology concepts, which later led to his deeper understanding of the culture. “Harmony in life is a daily struggle. With the rapid development of recent years, many contrasting and violent viewpoints have been introduced, so that the Maya and their environment are being overwhelmed,” says Martin. “Surviving these disruptive influences and maintaining their cultural dignity is the challenge for an uncertain future that the Maya now face.”

The series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” is a combination of images of the Yucatan’s caves and cenotes with archeological, historical, and environmental essays by established authorities, according to the experienced photographer. Martin’s images compel you to look closer at the detail that has formed over the years within nature.  

It’s hard to imagine what being in those types of caves would be like, but Martin describes it as a time full of anticipation. “Knowing that I will experience and learn something new each time fills my mind as I begin the descent into these underground chambers.” This experience has been building over the years. When the project first began Martin became interested in many of the Mayan’s core mythology concepts, which later led to his deeper understanding of the culture. “Harmony in life is a daily struggle. With the rapid development of recent years, many contrasting and violent viewpoints have been introduced, so that the Maya and their environment are being overwhelmed,” says Martin. “Surviving these disruptive influences and maintaining their cultural dignity is the challenge for an uncertain future that the Maya now face.”

Through images that help to shape and tell a story, Martin is hoping that the series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” will attract some attention to these struggles. “With a greater awareness of their issues, a more productive dialogue on the Maya and their land can begin, which will promote cultural diversity, protect their environment and respect for their fading traditions.”

Each part of Martin’s experience pushes him further and enhances his ability as an artist. A journey from architectural to landscape photography has proved there is more than what originally meets the eye, which can be seen in the details of his photos. According to Martin, “Each of these naturally-occurring, organic caverns and cenotes are unique yet similar architectural spaces that overwhelm your perceptions and preconceived notions of the world we live in.”

Cenote Ik kil, Yucatán, 2016.

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Spring 2019.

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Are you Ready for Summer?

Check out these luxury pools for summer inspiration. If you’re working on your own backyard or searching for a summer getaway, these elegant and fun pools offer the perfect oasis.

photo courtesy of Panorama

photo courtesy of 5000 North Ocean

What’s better than a breezy afternoon by the pool? Enjoy your summer to the fullest with these refreshing pool trends that can apply to resort or backyard living.

Consider Transparent Fencing

Safety first, but don’t sacrifice your view or elegant backyard. Although there are plenty of options when it comes to the fencing around your pool, this transparent option is inspiring. The gate adheres to all safety requirements while embracing the view just beyond.

This see-through choice also encourages a very open atmosphere that adds to the relaxed feeling that your summer may be missing. 

Don’t Be a Square

Embrace the soothing flow of water and the natural elements with an oval or circular shaped pool that breaks tradition. There is a softer feeling that comes with an oval, with the exclusion of sharp right angles and boring straight lines. 

Socialize or Relax but Make it your Own

Use an afternoon around the pool as an opportunity to gather or rest in solitude. Make your space a relaxing paradise with luxurious seating, plenty of shade, and a stunning landscape. An outdoor area with a pool is another chance to bring your own personal style to life.

photo courtesy of RIVA Residences

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Inspiration from Rug’Society

Transform your space with the perfect area rug. Trust stylish finished designs or customize your space with a tailored project.

Customize Until You’re Content

Rug’Society offers a bespoke customization service that is flexible and fun. Customers choose from a variety of colors, shapes, patterns, and textures to create a rug they can enjoy for years to come. The company also offers the help of a brand expert to guide you through the process.

Complete any room in your home with a rug that is uniquely you. Whether you’re looking for warm colors and plush textures, or an elegant neutral rug, there’s plenty from which to choose.

Choose the Right Rug for You

Bare floors are the perfect canvas for an inspiring, conversation-starting area rug and they are often a focal point in a room. Choose a larger area rug to create a gathering space in your living room.

 

For the bedroom, create a cozy domain by placing a rug under your bed allowing it to extend forward. This can give the appearance of a bigger space full of comfort.

 

Consider what type of traffic a rug will endure before purchasing. If you need a rug for your living room, remember to choose something that can withstand the occasional coffee spill or stray crumb.

 

Darker colors, whether they are on your walls or your floor tend to make a space feel smaller, while lighter shades can open a room up, making it feel larger.

 

Place you’re furniture along the edges of a beautiful rug making it visible for you and your guests to fully enjoy. This also helps create a more spacious feel.

Trends You Don’t Want to Miss

Neutral Colors — discreet tones can add an elegant touch.

Asymmetrical — the trend breaks tradition with eye-catching designs.

New Vintage — classic themes mix perfectly with modern elements.

Neo-Cubism — geometric shapes and 20th-century avant-garde expressions.

Photos by Rug’Society

 

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The Arch: Where it came from and why it’s here to stay

According to The Architectural Review, “The arch was used as early as the 2nd millennium BC, but it was the ever precocious Romans who began the systematic use of the arch, in their greatest engineering feats and as a means of celebrating their greatest military victories.”

Photo courtesy of https://parlourbrooklyn.com/

The Colosseum is an iconic historical site that is recognizable for its grandeur and the well-known arches that make up the exterior. But other cultures and builders throughout the world have also embraced and embellished arches in their architecture. The pointed arch, as seen at Tintern Abbey, Wales and in other gothic architecture, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and The Leaning Tower of Pisa are just a few examples of arches found around the world. Arches are often marveled at for their complex structure and their seeming ability to defy gravity.

Photo courtesy of https://parlourbrooklyn.com/

Here and Now

The Parlour

In an effort to honor the historical identity of Brooklyn’s highly sought-after Park Slope enclave, INC infused classic elements from the neighborhood with a modernized approach into the design of the new boutique residences at Parlour.

                                                                                                Photo courtesy of https://parlourbrooklyn.com/

The custom-crafted, mullion-free arched windows from Europe are an homage to the signature arched bridges in Prospect Park, and the limestone brick a nod to the limestone townhomes with arched motifs that face the park.

Photo courtesy of https://parlourbrooklyn.com/

Luna

Also, located in Brooklyn, New York is Luna — 39 condominium residences designed by Luca Andrisani with a host of amenities tailored to make every day a holiday, according to lunagowanus.com

Building Rendering: Credit PAX Brooklyn

130 Williamby David Adjaye in New York City

“At 66 stories and nearly 800 feet tall, Adjaye’s first New York City high-rise tower is an important contribution to the New York City skyline. 130 William’s hand-cast concrete facade creates a striking form against the cityscape of Lower Manhattan,” according to the 130 William website.

130 William also includes the intriguing arched windows. At the top of the building, the theme has been turned on its head, with upside down arches lining the upper floors.

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