Hugo Toro packs a historic, small-scale restoration of Villa Albertine with maximal details

A relic of the Gilded Age, carved in curved granite and renaissance-inspired pilasters, looks over Central Park on New York’s Upper East Side. The 1909 Payne Whitney House, designed by Stanford White, was formerly home to Helen Hay and William Payne Whitney before it was acquired by the French government where it now serves as the headquarters for art and culture institution, Villa Albertine. To debut the institute’s new atelier, a fifth-floor studio space for international residents, the organization hosted a design contest to restore parts of the historic building. Out of nearly 70 submissions, designer and architect Hugo Toro’s maximalist proposal won over the committee.

Toro looked to a poem from Helen Whitney, “”My Brook,” for the basis of his design. The French and Mexican designer packs his maximalist and colorful style into the compact studio. Rather than feeling claustrophobic, the space balances a tribute to French design, the building’s DNA, and the space’s multipurpose function as a dining room, conference space, and cocktail lounge.


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