manhattan project

April 2nd 2015 Comments: 5 Topics: ,

We’re currently working with a long-time client who’s hacking through the savage jungle known as Manhattan real estate.
We’ve been playing a design ping pong game where he will send me a real estate floor plan (these are common in New York apartment listings) and I quickly do a renovation scheme. This allows him to evaluate the potential of the apartment before he makes an offer.  It’s a fast and easy tool we’ve provided that allows him to make an intelligent and enlightened decision.


Coming up with a design for New York City apartments is akin to working a complicated crossword puzzle.  First you have to obey the given rules:  there are exterior wall limits, existing windows, forests of plumbing stacks, fire stairs and structural columns – all sorts of “black squares.”  The majority of Pre-War apartments (NYC real estate speak for buildings built before WWII) are messy rabbit warrens of rooms, making little sense.  They’re basically all about getting the maximum amount of program with little thought to the math or composition that makes good design.  The trick to clarifying these mishmash plans is to cleverly establishing axial vistas, reorganizing room functions and create a prevalent sense of flow and drama.

The following are some of the swift planning exercises we’ve gone through to help our client make a call on an apartment.  Each of these took less than an hour to turn out – short work to help expedite an expensive decision.


14 e. 75th plan



Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. Betsy Nolan says:

    Ooooohhh! To be a long time M-T client and get the benefit of a one hour design charette…
    Your team’s talent is deep, and your designs are inspiring.
    Thank you for sharing PLANS!

  2. Beryl says:

    Always been fascinated by the maids’ rooms in the those old Manhattan apartments–and the tiny kitchens in which they worked. Wouldn’t they be swept away by your kitchens today!

  3. Tom Green says:

    This is a fascinating post. What a great idea and the quickness in which it transpires is such a helpful service to buyers. You and Bobby are brilliant and I try and refer your blog and website to as many people as possible. I was the realtor who sold the sable
    Mansion on perry street and it was true honor too have worked with y’all’s firm in that endevaor. Also I got too give a shout out to Richard, your assistant, who really was great to deal with during that time. He’s a true professional and a nice person.
    Thanks for all the great things y’all do both architecturally and for the communities you work in.
    Tom Green

  4. Dee Coleman says:

    Thanks for this information! I had no idea so much was involved in a NYC apartment renovation…

  5. Dean Farris says:

    Beautiful and inspiring!

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