Silk Building pad with exhibitionist bathroom hits rental market

By Lauren Elkies | September 28, 2010 01:45PM

The upstairs part of duplex apartment 822, including the glass-enclosed bathroom, at the Silk Building, at 14 East 4th Street

An apartment with a glass-enclosed bathroom in Noho’s famed Silk Building has hit the rental market. The gut-renovated, roughly 1,200-square-foot duplex loft condominium unit at 14 East 4th Street, between Broadway and Lafayette Street, is available for $7,500 per month.

Unit 822, a one-bedroom, two-bathroom corner open loft, has 11-foot ceilings on both levels with a 22-foot-high staircase atrium ceiling. The ninth floor, home to the bedroom, living and kitchen areas, and the glass bathroom, has five-foot-wide, six-and-a-half-foot-tall windows which open completely. The eighth floor has another open living area, currently used as a home office, and a traditional full bathroom.

The owner, architect Duly Lee, decided to do the all-glass bathroom because he feels like “bathrooms in general are the most intimate places in a house, but it is often hidden, cluttered and not a place to hang out. So I wanted to celebrate the bathroom as a space [and] at the same time give the users a view to the outside world instead of insulating it within. I also like the idea [of] the exhibitionist bathroom as a diorama, or like one of [English artist] Damien Hirst’s aquarium art pieces, where animals and objects are frozen in space, but in my case it’s human bathroom activities through the looking glass.”

Looking out from inside the all-glass bathroom in apartment 822

Such a bathroom won’t appeal to the modest.

“If there’s anyone who has a problem with it, you could frost it or tint it. He’s willing to do that,” said Natasha Zhuravsky, the sales agent at Citi Habitats who is marketing the apartment.

The unit, outfitted with Design within Reach furniture and accessories (although it could be delivered empty), has a modern steel fireplace with an integrated BBQ grill as well as a Mitsubishi movie projector above the bed.

“It’s kind of a bachelor pad, as much as you don’t want to say that,” Zhuravsky said.

Lee purchased the Silk Building apartment in 2001 along with his parents, according to city documents, which do not indicate the price, and then he gutted it, he said, to “make a true artist live/work studio space.”

A modern steel fireplace with integrated BBQ grill in apartment 822

The architect doesn’t need the place now because he is staying on an island off Panama “making a prototype hut that integrates a water collection system within its living structure, but using all local indigenous materials,” he said.

In the United States, Lee most recently worked with Thom Mayne of the Los Angeles firm Morphosis in the design of the new academic building at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, at 41 Cooper Square between 6th and 7th streets, completed in the summer of 2009.

Ex-residents at the 12-story Italian-Renaissance-palazzo style Silk Building include Britney Spears, Keith Richards, Cher and radio talk show host Alan Colmes, as well as commercial tenant Tower Records on the ground floor.

Earlier this month, The Real Deal reported, New York University purchased a commercial condo on the third floor from an affiliate of ABS Partners Real Estate, for $9.9 million.