An indepth Look at a Remodeled Duplex in SoHo

Today John and Matthew highlight a redesigned duplex in SoHo by James Ramsey, Steven Peterson and their design/build firm raad.

“raad Profile” – Remodelista Architect / Designer Directory

If you enjoyed today’s Design Minute, you may also like “Remodeled Victorian Home in San Francisco” and “London Addition in Detail”.

  • jim baer

    the window wall looks great .. and really shows the character of the original building … BUT … how is this a good idea, from an energy point of view? an uninsulated exterior brick wall will lose a tremendous amount of heat ( i am assuming soho is THE SOHO in new york city ) in the winter.

  • Matthew North

    Jim – this is a good point you bring up. I have often wondered what the building envelope protocol is when remodeling older masonry loft buildings in cold climates. It is very common to see brick exposed on the interiors. We do not have a lot of older buildings like this in Calgary so I would be interested to learn more about these details.

  • Brad W

    Sometimes you have to trade form for fashion.

    It would be very difficult to duplicate the patina of old brick with new construction – for example, a brick veneer over an insulated wall.

  • jim baer


    i get that. but in NYC we now have a strict energy code and exposed brick walls would never comply. so i am confused, confounded, perplexed .. by the exposed walls i see, not only in this project, but others i see around the city….

  • http://deleted S.N.

    Brad W
    I agree with you!

    jim baer
    I am not familiar with nyc building code, but removing the drywall is not that big deal.
    Well insulated Masonry walls work in specific way. There are two major layers that prevent heat from escaping:

    1st layer is masonry structure that accumulates heat and radiates it back in to the space.

    2nd layer is placed on the outside of the masonry wall that is insulation layer. Its job is to prevent heat escaping from the wall to the outside.

    If everything works properly, you heat the interior air in building, some of that heat transfers to the walls that accumulate that energy and release it to the interior. Heat always escapes to the element with lower temperature, so if the temperature of the air in the room in lower then temperature of the wall, heat will radiate from the wall and heat the building.

    With old buildings there is problem. Usually you have only masonry wall that has no insulation layer. To insulate the building you have to place new insulation layer on the outside of the building (not just for one apartment, but the whole building).
    If you have for example thick brick wall (like in this Duplex in SoHo and you put insulation on the inside of the wall (you cover it with drywall) then you will have next set of problems.

    In the winter you will heat the air in the room fast, the heat will not escape trough the wall because it is well insulated, but when you open the window, whole heat will escape, so you will have to heat the room again. Because masonry wall is behind isolation it can’t accumulate the heat.

    In the summer un insulated wall will accumulate heat from the sun, and radiate it into the interior. So you will have overheating problem.

    I am really familiar with this problem as there are a lot of old buildings where I live, so it is common problem.

  • Jesse

    Many times energy regulations take the whole envelope into consideration so one ‘bad’ wall can be overcome by three very efficient ones. This may allow for the kind of flexibility in construction that is shown here. It could also very well be the case that the regulations allow much more flexibility in older buildings because of the obvious limitations of turn of the century construction. I really like this place, simple yet dramatic.