“We began with the approach of letting the architecture of the space be the focus — the client didn’t want the space to be adorned with anything considered frivolous. The importance is in the architecture and making it meaningful in its placement. To accomplish that, we had to think of a way to juxtapose it with the building,” explains Architectural Designer John McWaters of Pfeffer Torode Architecture.
The architectural work of art John is speaking of sits atop the Phoenix Building in historic downtown Nashville. The building, which backs up to Printer’s Alley, boasts a traditional brick façade, but a trip to the rooftop reveals an unexpected structure that is modern in design.
“The way the historic architecture was designed, it would be somewhat difficult to create a seamless transition between the two spaces,” John continues. “The best approach was to create a contrasting design. It came down to a decision to be respectful of the historic nature of the building and add onto it in a way that created a legible contrast between the two in terms of style, time and culture.”
From the sidewalk, the loft is hardly visible. The first, and perhaps the only, thing you will notice is the railings around the perimeter of the space. “We didn’t want anything to overwhelm the façade,” John explains. “But we felt it appropriate to have a subtle whisper of the design language.” The railings encompass 700 square feet, which includes the outdoor terrace and loft that replaced an existing structure. “We didn’t have a lot of space to work with, so we created one simple room with large doors that open. The space can be completely enclosed, or it can become an indoor/outdoor space,” John says.
The seamless transition from indoors to out is thanks to a thoughtful use of materials as well as space and light, the most notable being materials — namely the paving that carries across both areas. “Simplicity in form and materials establishes the design language,” John explains. “In terms of materials, we wanted it to be monochromatic, which stems from the attempt to have the architecture be the main feature of the rooftop loft.”
When looking to relax without exposure to the elements, the doors can easily be closed, but the space remains light-filled — due in part to 10-foot ceilings and clerestory windows. “When the doors are closed, it is important you feel sheltered — and have privacy,” John says. Set back from the edge of the building, the loft is nothing if not private. The homeowner has the opportunity to overlook the city without anyone looking in. For the interior, different shades of white were used, which is noticeable as light hits the walls. “It is interesting to see the different angles at which the sun hits the wall, and different shades of white play with that effect,” John shares. Due to the orientation of the building — and three walls of windows — sun fills the space throughout the day.
Clean lines, minimal color and simple design are anything but boring thanks to the team at Landy Gardner Interiors, the team behind the interior design and furnishings. The design is the backdrop to the sunroom, which opens to the patio, an open kitchen and living space, master bedroom, guest bedroom with a Murphy bed and two-and-a-half bathrooms. As the homeowner’s full-time residence, the loft is more than comfortable. The living space is designed for entertaining with a sitting and dining area. Neutral tones and clean lines offer a sense of sophistication, while wood flooring and beamed ceilings add warmth.
Underneath the stairs, the master suite has only the necessities. A large closet keeps the bedroom from becoming cluttered, and a marble-clad bathroom offers room for relaxation. “Marble is one of the finer materials found throughout the penthouse, and accentuating that was part of the design language,” John explains. In the master bathroom, marble is carried from the waterfall countertops to the tiles walls and floor and even encloses the bathtub. Landy Gardner Interiors enlisted Proctor Marble & Granite to install the ambitious stone and tile package.
“There are exciting things happening in a part of downtown that has been forgotten for so long. It is exciting to be part of the revival,” John says of contributing to the urban architectural landscape.
Pfeffer Torode Architecture Project Team Members:
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