Wayne Street Row House

Built at the turn of the nineteenth century in downtown Jersey City, the Wayne Street Row House presented many challenges that are typical of multi-family residences constructed during this time period. One such difficulty was that the building had undergone countless renovations over the years that had left each floor an incoherent assemblage of bizarrely proportioned rooms and claustrophobic hallways. By removing unnecessary walls and using more-efficient room layouts, we were able to provide a design that was well-ordered and pleasantly spacious.

Another problem common to nearly all buildings found in an urban setting is a lack of natural lighting. Like most row homes, the Wayne Street House was abutted up to two neighboring buildings at either side of the property. This meant that windows could only be located at the front, rear and roof of the building. In order to improve the penetration of daylight into the space, our strategy was, yet again, to limit the number of wallsthroughout the interior of the building. Millwork was often used in lieu of full-height partitions to allow light to be reflected off the ceiling from space to space. Open-tread stairs were also used to allow light from the third floor skylights to reach the first floor. Likewise, light-colored materials such as white marble and clear pine were used to brighten the most entombed areas of the house.

One last issue that is characteristically found in row homes is a lack of storage space. In this project, built-in millwork was used extensively to provide space for not only clothing, pantry items and holiday decorations, but also heating and cooling equipment and plumbing lines. A small powder room is even concealed in the built-in unit located beneath the first floor stair.

Photography by Gregory Maka