Nozkowski and Robins Residence

DATE: 1969
LOCATION: New York City, New York, USA
OLD USE: Underwear factory, shower-curtain factory, neighborhood still, Chinese laundry, fabric store
NEW USE: Studio residence


History

This synagogue on Hester Street in New York City has seen many uses over its lifetime. Aside from its original use as a place of worship, the building has also served as an underwear factory, shower-curtain factory, the neighborhood still, a Chinese laundry, and a fabric store.

(Re)Developer

Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins married in 1967 after they finished art school. Nozkowski is a painter while his wife Robins is a sculptor.

Outcome

The couple purchased the building in 1969 and undertook the adaptive reuse project with only $3,000. They had to install the electrical and water lines. The building’s simple, open plan was consistent with their work and living philosophies. Through their studies with Abstract Impressionists, they solidified their belief that it is morally important to live and work in the same place. The synagogue-turned-studio where they worked on their art (and raised their son, Casimir) is unchanged since those renovations.

Items in the photos:

  • The skylight and windows
  • The balcony where women sat to be separate from men during services
  • Robin’s workspace with some of her sculptures
  • Refinished wood floors
  • Large geometric wood-frame couch build by Nozkowski’s father
  • Stained-glass window
  • Rear wall used to project movies for gatherings
  • Open studio space[1]

[1]New York Magazine

Images courtesy of New York Magazine.