Among the high-rises that have sprung up like so much tall grass along Chelsea's High Line, stands the Metal Shutter Houses, Shigeru Ban's relatively humble contribution to the area that has been dubbed Starchitect Row. Sandwiched between Frank Gehry's hulking IAC and Annabelle Seldorf's stout 520 West Chelsea on West 19th Street, the 11-story box wouldn't draw much attention to itself if it weren't for its major design flourish: a retractable skin of perforated metal shutters.
Ban took his cue from the roll-down gates that used to be prevalent in the area. But here, they have the quality of privacy screens -- diaphanous metal scrims that can be individually raised and lowered. (Although residents began moving in back in 2009, the gates were only recently finished.) If the southern façade offers a protective barrier from curious passers-by, the northern exterior wall provides complete exposure (and views of the High Line), with bifold doors ? typically used in airplane hangars -- that open completely to the outdoors.
But the true beauty of the design is reserved for those who make it into the breathtaking, double-height apartments, where Ban, with his partner on this project, Dean Maltz, have attended to every interior detail, including built-in storage -- Ban even designed the knobs -- and concrete-embedded recessed lighting fixtures in the public spaces. Interested in owning a piece of the pie? You're in luck: The three-bedroom, four-bath penthouse, which includes a private roof deck, is still on the market for $12.95 million. Or you can take the free slideshow tour, courtesy of Co.Design.