Overview (Updated on March 27th, 2018)

Over the last year, New York City’s most expensive apartment listings topped $80M, and New Yorkers spent over $6B on residential renovations. In a city where even a rental can fetch hundreds-of-thousands of dollars per month, architects have a huge responsibility to bring value and style to every home they design. Whether creating a penthouse in the clouds, reviving an historic uptown brownstone, or outfitting a downtown loft, the 10 architecture firms listed here deliver forward-thinking plans and high design. They are responsible for both the “bones” and the “outfit” of the home, and their forward-thinking ideas have put them at the forefront of residential architecture.

This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.


Top Architects

Michael K. Chen Architecture

Michael Chen, AIA

1239 Broadway, Suite 703, New York, NY 10001

About Michael K. Chen Architecture

From their office at Broadway, Michael K. Chen Architecture designs residences, products, and furniture that draw international attention. Aside from 40 European publications, the firm’s work has appeared in Interior Design, The New York Times, and Dwell. Founder Michael Chen, AIA, established the firm in 2011 after studying architecture at the University of California Berkeley and Columbia University. Heavily involved in architecture education, Chen has lectured at Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute School of Architecture, Cornell University, and other revered institutions. The Graham Foundation research grant recipient now leads a team of four other accomplished designers and project managers.

Featured Projects

New York City is notorious for teeny apartments, but the Michael K. Chen Architect-designed 5:1 Apartment proves it’s not the size of the space, but how you use it that matters. The fully functional unit is only 390 square feet, elevating the tiny house movement to the aesthetic of a 1920s co-op in Gramercy Park. The main volume of the unit transforms, depending on how the homeowner would like to use it. During the day, the seating area is between a convertible workspace cum dry bar and a dining area. At night, a sliding storage volume — which also houses a rotating television — reveals a closet, a dressing area, and a queen-sized bed that folds out from the wall. The design feat garnered attention from Curbed New York, House Beautiful, Contemporist, and Interior Design. In a project with a little more breathing room, Michael K. Chen Architecture took on the architecture and interior design of an Upper East Side townhouse. The landmarked, 1879 brownstone was once a single-family home, but it had undergone a renovation dividing it into 17 separate units. The firm redesigned the building’s eroding infrastructure and added an award-winning nano-biome building skin — an advanced green wall comprised of custom, terracotta tiles arranged on a grid, perfectly matched to the facade’s range of sun exposure.

1100 Architect

David Piscuskas, FAIA, LEED AP
Juergen Riehm, FAIA, BDA
Gwendolyn Conners, AIA
Susanne Milne, MAA
Ed Parker, AIA

Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award,
DMK Merit Award,
AIA NY Merit Award

475 10th Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018

About 1100 Architect

David Piscuskas, FAIA, LEED AP, and Juergen Riehm, FAIA, BDA, co-founded 1100 Architect in 1983. The firm, now based in New York and Frankfurt, has been recognized by AIA New York State and Architizer. 1100 Architect-designed single-family and multi-unit residential projects are featured in Architectural Digest, The Architect’s Newspaper, Wallpaper, and Architectural Record. Under the leadership of the founders and principals Gwendolyn Conners, AIA, Susanne Milne, MAA, and Ed Parker, AIA, the firm offers architectural and interior design services for residential, commercial, civic and cultural environments. Industry influencer Piscuskas is also the 2017 President of AIA New York Chapter.

Featured Projects

For their reimagining of a Manhattan triplex, 1100 Architect earned an AIA NY Chapter Design Merit award in the “Interiors” category. The unit was created from three apartments, unified by generous glazing and floor-to-ceiling cabinets, and minimalist details, like concealed light fixtures and a restrained color palette. Bringing an ultra-modern aesthetic to the pre-war residence, the firm included hidden features like a wet bar and private corridor concealed by a white, lacquer wall. 1100 Architect reconfigured a poorly-lit, Duane Street loft into a diligently sculpted space. Walls set at unique curves and angles allow natural light to flow through the space, bolstered by tasteful recessed lighting tucked into a suspended ceiling. The kitchen, previously separated from the home by an outdated layout, is now open to the living room, delineated by a concrete island sitting on stainless steel spindles. Colored resin and glass finishes pop against frosted acrylic and fir plank floors.


Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc AIA
Justin Korhammer

IIDA / Metropolis Smart Environments Award

111 John Street #700, New York, NY 10038

About Archi-tectonics

Archi-tectonics is the brainchild of founder and Principal Winka Dubbeldam. The firm, established in 1994, is named for the strong foundation created by Dubbeldam’s team of creatives, engineers, and contractors. Archi-tectonics maintains a focus on sustainability in all of their projects, whether residential or commercial, often utilizing reclaimed materials and cutting-edge efficiency systems. A WBE-registered firm, Archi-tectonics designs projects out of offices is in Manhattan and the Netherlands — the Dutch office is helmed by the company’s first New York employee, Dutch architect Rob van Houten. The firm’s work is frequently featured in exhibitions throughout the world, including New York City’s Frederieke Taylor Gallery and Museum of Modern Art. Architectural League of New York honored Dubbeldam with an Emerging Voice award, and the firm has earned awards from the International Interior Design Association and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. Recently, in the spring of 2016, Justin Korhammer joined Archi-Tectonics as Partner of the firm.


Featured Projects

Archi-tectonics transformed a 4,000 square-foot loft with dramatic views of Manhattan. The full-floor unit sits among the upper stories of an East Village highrise. Archi-tectonics enhanced the existing industrial features by leaving exposed the concrete ceiling and a steel building truss. A specially designed, backlit, translucent panel wraps around the center truss, surrounding the unit’s two-and-a-half baths and walk-in closets. The rest of the open layout is defined by large furniture pieces, delineating use areas without blocking views. The firm elevated the typical built-in unit, creating sculpted wood panel walls that descend in arcs to create display shelves and workspaces, mimicking the curvature of the apartment’s translucent core. The master bathroom repeats the pattern, with a spa bath and other fixtures embedded in a continuously curved wall. Experts in ultra-modern and historic renovations, Archi-tectonics also reimagined a Chelsea townhouse for fashion designer Tia Cibani. The firm added a garden and roof terrace to the landmark, 3,400-square-foot brownstone. The rear facade went from dilapidated brick to glass panels that open out to the rear yard. The interior wood and glass staircase, set under a skylight, adds light and airiness to the once restrictive floor plan.

Besides those above, the firm recently finished the V33 Building in Tribeca, and the Brewster Carriage House in Little Italy.

Front Studio Architects

Yen Ha, LEED AP,
Michi Yanagishita
Art Lubetz, AIA

AIA Pittsburgh Design Competition Certificate of Merit,
Development NY Residential Top 10 STARchitects: Up and Coming Firm

16 West 22nd Street, Floor 8, New York, NY 10010

About Front Studio Architects

Yen Ha, LEED AP, and Michi Yanagishita founded Front Studio in 2001. Ha and Yanagishita both completed graduate work at European universities — L’École d’Architecture and the Glasgow School of Art, respectively. Ten years after initially incorporating, the New York City-based design house partnered with Art Lubetz, AIA, founder of Pittsburgh firm Lubetz Associates and fellow alum of Carnegie Mellon University. Lubetz is also a faculty member of the esteemed institution. The team maintains offices in both cities, and designs projects ranging from $500k to $5M in value. Architectural Digest, Icon Magazine, and Interior Design are just a few of the notable publications that have featured Front Studio Architects residences.

Featured Projects

Front Studio Architects reimagined the three-bedroom Tribeca apartment for the firm’s own Yen Ha and the architect’s family. The eighth-floor unit was ill-proportioned for the owners, a family of four. The redesign sacrificed some unneeded closet space to accommodate a proper master suite and a children’s playroom in the 1,800-square-foot penthouse. The redefined living room is anchored by a floor-to-ceiling, built-in library wall. A new skylight in the kitchen brightens a formerly windowless space. Meticulous choice of materials made a strong impact on a conservative budget; porcelain, wood-paneled tile, maple paneling, and natural pegboard add warmth and texture. Uptown, an older home got a new life. New York Daily News covered the Front Studio Architects renovation of a multi-family townhouse in Harlem. In a stuccoed addition that punches through the original brick facade, the designers added a kitchen opposite tall, narrow windows. A sleek, contemporary, staircase ascends to the second story master suite, with its generous dressing room. The skylight above brightens the once dark interior.

Freecell Architecture

Lauren Crahan, LEED AP
John Hartmann

Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts PXSTL

67 35th Street, No. B-525, Brooklyn, NY 11232

About Freecell Architecture

Freecell Architecture gets its name from the organic, osmotic strategies co-founders Lauren Crahan and John Hartmann bring to the design-build outfit. Prior to establishing the small firm, Crahan studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and Hartmann graduated from Cooper Union in the East Village. With the pair acting as principals, and with assists from Project Designer Samuel McBride and frequent collaborator Gia Wolff, the firm has complete projects for high-profile clients, such as Este Haim, one of the sisters in the eponymous pop trio. Freecell Architecture also won the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts PXSTL competition for a performance space they created in a formerly empty lot next to the Tadao Ando-designed headquarters. Architectural Digest has featured the firm’s work.

Featured Projects

Fashion designer Alexander Wang enlisted Freecell Architecture to renovate his West Chelsea apartment. Along with interior designer Ryan Korban, the team created a sumptuous interior for the $8M pad at 551 West 21st Street. Guests step off of the elevator directly into the apartment’s entryway, a gallery lined with Venetian plaster and lit by plaster and bronze chandeliers. In the living room, a dark, mirrored wall and the white-veined, black marble mantel and surround offset cream walls. Inky floors run throughout, softened in the master bedroom by suede wall treatments. Natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows and the private terrace beyond. In another collaboration with Korban, Freecell Architecture renovated a 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment overlooking Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building. A reconfigured layout brings the stunning views into more of the living spaces. The sophisticated kitchen blends polished stainless steel, glass, and white shaker cabinetry, enriched by an island, countertops, and backsplash in Calacatta marble. The black, herringbone floor runs throughout the unit, bringing a touch of formality to the gray, suede-clad living room.

Richard Meier & Partners Architects

Richard Meier, FAIA, FRIBA

AIA NY Architecture Merit Awards,
AIA NY Architecture Honor Awards,
AIA NY President’s Award

475 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10018

About Richard Meier & Partners Architects

Through single-family units and residential skyscrapers, Richard Meier & Partners Architects is redefining luxury living in New York City. Meier, a Cornell University graduate and Pritzker Prize-winner, opened shop in the city in 1963. Since then, the bi-coastal firm has received 30 national AIA awards and another 50 from regional chapters. With the partners in the firm’s moniker — James R. Crawford, Bernhard Karpf, Vivian Lee, Reynolds Logan, Michael Palladino, and Dukho Yeon — Meier has left an international footprint in public and private design, having worked on projects in 18 countries.

Featured Projects

Richard Meier & Partners Architects redesigned a 2,500-square-foot unit in the historic Sherry-Netherland Hotel. Units in the Gothic Revival building, erected on upper 5th Avenue in 1927, rarely go on the market. RMPA worked with Rose Tarlow-Melrose House to update the outdated layout and bring natural light and views of Central Park into the interior spaces. At the private elevator entrance, louvered anigre wood and glass doors open onto the grand entry. Lined with custom wood bookcases and the homeowners’ collection of objets d’art, the foyer evokes the splendor of the building’s recently-restored lobby. The compartmentalized living space is now an open kitchen, a dining area, and formal and informal living rooms, all under raised ceilings. From here, the apartment splits off into two wings; the service entry and guest suite are to the north, and the master suite is to the south. The firm also took on a Greenwich Village triplex more than four times the size of the impressive Sherry-Netherland space. The apartment encompasses about 10,500 square feet of a tower on Perry Street. Each of the three stories is centered on a spiral staircase that winds its way from the children’s floor and library guest suite, up through the double-height living space and the master bedroom suite on the second, up to the top floor gymnasium and interior balcony. Designing for a technology entrepreneur, the firm was sure to add cutting-edge audio-visual components and smart home management systems.

Selldorf Architects

Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA
Sara Lopergolo, AIA
Julie Hausch-Fen
Lisa Green
Bill Bigelow

AIA NY Medal of Honor

860 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

About Selldorf Architects

Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA, grew up in Germany before coming to Brooklyn to study architecture at Pratt Institute. She then ventured to Italy for Master of Architecture degree, before establishing Selldorf Architects in New York City. In 2016, the AIA New York chapter recognized Selldorf with a Medal of Honor, and the firm released Selldorf Architects: Portfolio and Projects, a monograph that chronicles the work they began when Selldorf founded her eponymous firm in 1988. The team of 65 designers — led by Selldorf and partners Sara Lopergolo, AIA, Julie Hausch-Fen, Lisa Green, and Bill Bigelow — offers architectural, interior, and exhibition services, along with master and strategic planning. Though single-family homes and multi-unit buildings continue to be the backbone of their portfolio, Selldorf Architects has designed structures for New York’s Neue Galerie, among other cultural institutions throughout the U.S.

Featured Projects

New York Magazine covered the Selldorf Architects renovation of a Chelsea loft in a building that was once a YMCA. Previous work on the apartment buried the original running track and athletic surfaces under new finishes. Selldorf Architects unearthed the gymnasium’s structural features and emphasized them by adding casement windows and blackened steel railings around the double-height atrium. Polished, blue-glazed concrete floor tiles are industrial, yet refined. The upper floor living spaces are breathtakingly bright and open. The Corian kitchen island runs paint a dramatic length of white. Downstairs the family retires to their bedrooms or media room. There is also in office in the space, which used to be a basketball court. The firm exhibits a totally different style at the Manhattan home of art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe and his family. Architectural Digest took note of this custom home rebuild of an 1887 townhouse in a landmarked portion of the Upper East Side. Starting with a historic facade and not much else, Selldorf Architects lowered the garden level, seamlessly joining the indoor and outdoor spaces and allowing for maximal ceiling heights. Natural light pours through the rear facade — floor-to-ceiling glazing on all five levels — and an oval skylight. All told, the home has six bedrooms, including a full-floor master suite.

Desai Chia

Katherine Chia, AIA
Arjun Desai, AIA

2018 AIA Institute Honor Award,
American Architecture Prize Firm of the Year Award in Multi-disciplinary Architecture,
Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards,
AIA New York State Design Awards,
Interior Design Best of Year Awards

115 West 27th Street, Suite 901, New York, NY 10001

About Desai Chia

Desai Chia — co-founded by couple Katherine Chia and Arjun Desai in 1996 — has earned four American Architecture Awards from The Chicago Athenaeum, four Interior Design Best of Year honors, six design awards from the American Institute of Architects, and the list goes on. Both principals of the lauded, international firm earned a Master of Architecture from M.I.T. before collaborating on residential, commercial, and cultural projects that would capture the attention of Architect, Dwell, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Beyond press coverage, Desai Chia designs have been exhibited at Parsons School of Design, Herman Miller showrooms in New York and Los Angeles, and the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village.

Featured Projects

Desai Chia was invited back to an old project when a photographer purchased a 5,000-square-foot loft the team had previously formed from two adjoining units. For the client, who desired a live-work space with room for entertaining, Desai Chia gutted the apartment to create private and public wings. The east side of the apartment houses the homeowner’s bedroom and photography studio, while the south end has a kitchen with a blackened-steel island, living room, and dining area. The zones are unified by a gypsum board ceiling; wide-plank, oak floors; and matching cabinetry and wall panels. The renovation earned numerous awards, including AIA NY State Design Award, SARA National Design Award, Residential Architect Design Award, an American Architecture Prize, and Interior Design Best of Year award. In Cooper Square, Desai Chia took on another 5,000-square-foot loft project. The renovation — which earned and AIA New York State Design Award, a Residential Architect Design Award, and more — cleverly divided an L-shaped, industrial space with wood partitions and operable portholes to allow for privacy without disrupting views and the flow of natural light. The firm designed the kitchen to enhance the light even further. Finished in glass and anodized aluminum, it bounces daylight, brightening this central area of the home.

Robert Kahn Architect

Robert Kahn, AIA

Washington University School of Architecture Distinguished Alumnus Award,
Yale University Glassman Prize for Design Excellence

31 East 12th Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY. 10003

About Robert Kahn Architect

A boutique architectural firm, Robert Kahn Architect only takes on projects that strike genuine interest for the team. Kahn, a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and a Distinguished Alumnus of the Washington University School of Architecture, founded the firm in New York City in 1986. He previously worked with the architects of London firm James Stirling, Michael Wilford & Associates. Among Kahn’s clients are director Wes Anderson, actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, and playwright David Mamet. The New York Times, House & Garden, and Metropolitan Home have featured Robert Kahn Architect’s designs, and the firm has earned recognition from AIA and NYCxDesign.

Featured Projects

Robert Kahn Architect updated a Victorian townhouse on the Upper West Side. The original woodwork is restored to a striking, dark luster. The grand entry staircase is framed by Ionic columns and mahogany wainscoting and stylized spindles. Fireplaces throughout the home feature varied mahogany millwork and tile surrounds. Parquet wood floors run throughout the main living spaces, coupled with modern sconces and chandeliers. Architectural Digest took notice when the firm made their mark on a TriBeCa penthouse. The loft space was dark at its interior. Robert Kahn Architect, with designers Stephen Sills and James Huniford, brought natural light into the living room by raising the ceilings by two stories and creating a double-height lofted space. The balcony that now wraps around the living room has large clerestory windows, which bring daylight and magnificent views into the main living space. Its railing provides a track for the homeowners’ model train collection. The original maple flooring was the basis for a palette of warm neutrals, including Venetian plaster-finished walls.

Peter Pennoyer Architects

Peter Pennoyer, FAIA
Jennifer Gerakaris, AIA
Elizabeth Graziolo, AIA
Thomas Nugent, AIA
James Taylor, AIA, LEED AP

Arthur Ross Award,
Bulfinch Award,
Stanford White Award for Excellence in Classical and Traditional Design.

136 Madison Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10016

About Peter Pennoyer Architects

Peter Pennoyer, FAIA, is one of five partners in his eponymous firm. With the other four leaders — Jennifer Gerakaris, AIA, Elizabeth Graziolo, AIA, Thomas Nugent, AIA, and James Taylor, AIA, LEED AP — Pennoyer has made a name for the company in residential, commercial, and institutional designs, across the US and internationally. Established in 1990, Peter Pennoyer Architects draws on their research library of more than 10,000 volumes to bring tried-and-true technique into progressive designs. Their ability to balance historical architecture with contemporary methods and materials has led the team to be listed among the Architectural Digest AD100. Among the firm’s numerous accolades are the Arthur Ross Award, the Bulfinch Award, and the Stanford White Award for Excellence in Classical and Traditional Design.

“As a New Yorker, I have always believed that architecture has to be beautiful and useful not just for clients but as part of the city.” – Peter Pennoyer

Featured Projects

Peter Pennoyer Architects earned a Stanford White Award for the restoration of a Greenwich Village townhouse. Architectural Digest covered the complete gut and reconstruction of the Italianate row house. The brick building, constructed in 1857, had been carved into multiple units and stripped of original features, such as its stoop. Behind the landmarked facade stands a completely new home with a fifth-story penthouse addition. Much of the home features classical finishes; the parlor floor is adorned with custom millwork, arched doorways, and Corinthian columns. A wet bar at the back of the home is just a few steps down the exterior, ironwork staircase to the garden. For Alison Schneider, daughter of Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne, Peter Pennoyer Architects partnered with renowned interior designer Victoria Hagan on a three-year renovation of an Upper East Side townhouse. Again, the firm preserved the 1920s, limestone facade and created an entirely new, 10k-square-foot, the six-bedroom, twelve-bathroom home. Among many luxury amenities is an elevator that will take you all the way from the green roof terrace to the English cellar. The townhouse — originally purchased by Schneider for $8.5M — recently hit the market with a list price of $32.5M.

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