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Jenn Chang on redesigning a historic schoolhouse into a modern apartment

Dwell featured Jenn Chang, Common’s Director of Architecture, and her beautiful apartment in SoHo, Manhattan. After having purchased the 1,038-square-foot apartment in 2014, Jenn and her two friends from Columbia’s graduate school — Charlie Able and Andy McGee — redesigned the space into “an efficient yet beautiful home with a fresh and welcoming personality.”


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“I believe that architecture can generate happiness, and we have the metrics to prove it.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We’re so happy to see Common’s director of architecture, Jenn Chang, on @dezeen. If you want to learn about architecture at Common, Jenn’s career path, and more on those happiness metrics, head to the link in our bio. Photo via @parenpar ✨

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An eccentric past.

The four-story building that the apartment is housed in was originally built as a Grammar school in 1886. Repurposing the schoolhouse into residential use meant relieving the tight walls with expansive, airy spaces. “The former classroom — with 14-foot ceilings and oversized picture windows — is, uniquely, almost proportionally cubic in its dimensions,” Jenn told Dwell, “The apartment’s past makes for wonderful and unusual living space.”
dwell magazineKeeping it simple.

One of the biggest reconfigurations Jenn and her friends completed was transforming two unused storage spaces into lofts, “making them the main design features of their adjoining spaces.” This freed up other primary areas to be designed more simple and bare.
dwell magazine

The Devil is in the Detail.

As budget was limited, Jenn, Charlie, and Andy focused on the detailing of basic carpentry over luxe finishes. They manipulated simple materials such as drywall, maple plywood, and raw concrete. For finishing touches, a couple more of Jenn’s alumni friends at Kin & Company custom-fabricated the blackened steel accents throughout the apartment to connect the different spaces and highlight certain features.
dwell magazine
Read the full feature, and see more photos here.

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