Butterfield House

Lobbies And Common Spaces Upgrades, Greenwich Village, New York, New York
Restoration, Finishes and Energy Upgrades

Butterfield House was designed in 1959 by Mayer Whittlesey and Glass and completed in 1962. The complex has two wings, one on 12th street and one on 13th street connected by a glazed breezeway through a mid block garden. The building is architecturally significant for its modern yet contextual design and is included in part in the Greenwich Village Historic District.
Our visual observations and a thorough finishes investigation revealed the original color scheme to be in the tans, browns and grey: a palette introduced and summarized in the brick, terrazzo and cast stone materials of the lobby. Walls were covered with vinyl wall covering - seen at the time as an upgrade. But over the years walls and ceilings had been painted over many times and the hallways which were originally consistent were now treated in a variety of color schemes in a high gloss finish and lighted with fluorescent lamps in many color temperatures. The results were glary, inconsistent and inharmonious.
We decided to do away with the vinyl wall covering and to design a color palette based on the colors of the permanent materials in the lobby. We developed a unique field applied finish for walls and ceilings of the common hallways with excellent durability and light reflectance. The new lighting will use efficient LED bulbs at the right color temperature: this critical energy and cost saving move will do away with the dreary fluorescent lighting. We sourced a high quality carpet tile in a dark brown to give a visual anchor to the spaces. The Committee executed this proposal in one of the hallways, as a mock up. It was approved by the committee and shareholders and will be carried out in the lobby as well.
We believe that a light touch was the right approach for this particular building and that it was important to resist the temptation to do too much, over decorate, add fancy finishes, simply because the nature of the original design was one of restraint and this quality is the building's defining characteristic.