Industrial Revolution: A New Red Hook Condo In Tune with the Neighborhood’s History

Ground Architecture’s Eli Fernald—the developer, architect, and general contractor behind 96 King Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn—is telling me about a recent encounter with passersby outside his building: “We’re pretty close to the cruise ship terminals, and lots of tourists get off and walk around the neighborhood. One day, I see an older Russian couple, standing on the corner and arguing. They keep talking and looking up at the building. And, finally, the guy looks to me and asks, ‘Is this building new?’ ”

The apartment building is, indeed, entirely new construction—but Eli can understand the couple’s confusion. He designed the three-unit, brick-fronted structure to look at home in the historical waterfront neighborhood, which is known for its industrial warehouses and 19th century brick and clapboard homes. “I wanted to design the building in a way that feels right for the context and constraints.” he explains. “It felt disingenuous to do something hard modern here.”

Instead, he wanted both the inside and outside to be in “the same language and scale” as the neighborhood’s modest architecture, opting to leverage traditional methods and materials (think lime plaster, terra-cotta, salvaged pine wood) to translate the new build into a timeless work.

The raw finishes channel a “noble industrialism” that, in Unit #2 (currently listed for $2.95 million), is offset by modern-earthy interiors by real estate stagers and Remodelista favorites Hollister and Porter Hovey. “Eli designs with passion and a personal vision that you don’t usually see with new developments. It’s just so refreshing to find something that feels completely bespoke,” says Porter.

Below, Eli and the Hovey sisters give us a tour of Unit #2.

Photography by Hollister Hovey.

“with the lime plaster walls and arches, there’s a softness  9
Above: “With the lime plaster walls and arches, there’s a softness to the space that caters to a lot of organic textures, [but] it felt necessary to bring in some geometry and hardness to the mix, as well,” says Hollister. The floor lamp is from CB2, the copper side table is from Blu Dot, the slate coffee table is vintage. The sisters like to mix in “some basics from big box stores to make the space feel accessible and comfy to buyers.”
the open concept space is light filled thanks to a wall of oversized windows. a 10
Above: The open-concept space is light-filled thanks to a wall of oversized windows. All the walls in the condo are lime plastered—giving them “subtle imperfection and depth,” says Eli—except for the interior closets and bathrooms. “We normally go very heavy on art, but those lime plaster walls are like art in themselves, so there was no way we were going near them with a hammer or drill,” says Porter. The painting in the living area is fastened to a rivet with fishing line.
cutting through the core of the home is the building’s stairwell, w 11
Above: Cutting through the core of the home is the building’s stairwell, which in each unit manifests as a concrete wall. Hovering over the dining table is the Hive light, in yellow, by Verner Panton and surrounding it are 1960s Italian rosewood chairs. Just beyond this room is the kitchen.
terra cotta bricks have better energy and sound performance, says eli, and lend 12
Above: Terra-cotta bricks have better energy and sound performance, says Eli, and lends the space a warm glow. The vase on the table is designed by Farrah Sit and available from Light and Ladder. “We used many of Farrah Sit’s incredible lamps, vessels, and vases. They really help complete the space and play off the light so beautifully,” says Hollister.