Wang’s intent, he explained, was to “open out” the space, and seeing it without the walls in the kitchen and beyond reminded me of how it had looked after the demolition crew I hired reduced it to its shell and it seemed, paradoxically, smaller. His living, dining, and media areas are continuous, defined by the arrangement of the furniture. The 90-foot sight line from front to back is intact but without the narrow focus of a hall that ended in an arched window. And the four arched windows, set deep into the building’s landmark cast iron facade, have disappeared behind square-topped roman shades in a dense black wool—another of Wang’s signature statements: “Bold and graphic,” he says, “like color blocking.”
To each his own. My loft was, let’s face it, as eccentric as I am, custom-tailored to a woman who loves to cook and happens to own a few hundred shoes and thousands of books. If Wang failed to appreciate my favorite things about it, I can hardly blame him. They just weren’t relevant to the way he wants to live. The pigmented plaster wall, a gradient that ran the length of the space—chartreuse at the front and progressing to gray at the back—is gone now. As are the curtains, made from aluminum organza sourced in Switzerland and mounted on tracks to mimic the translucent wall that bordered the dining area. The wall is gone too.
Maybe, then, it’s not so surprising that what I had come to view as my loft’s biggest drawback turned out to be, as far as Wang and Korban were concerned, its biggest selling point. When, two years ago, New York Law School put up a building on the adjacent parking lot, the view from my bedroom windows—a tableau of low-rise rooftops and water towers, with the needle of the Empire State Building beyond—was replaced by an air shaft, its blank walls lined with corrugated metal that made waking up there feel like rise and shine at a federal penitentiary. But for Wang, “that was the kicker,” Korban recalls. “There was something about it that felt so steel and so industrial and so Alex.”
IT’S HIS HOME NOW, free and clear. If ever I had any doubts about leaving behind the haven I had made for myself, any apprehensions about seeing someone else living there in my stead, they had been put to rest by the time our tour ended and the door closed behind me. My loft, I now understood, had been my private Camelot, and it had vanished. As I walked away, I realized to my amazement that I didn’t even mind. I’ve built a new life elsewhere.
Before I moved in, a friend had come by and paced a big circle, waving a smoldering bundle of sage guaranteed, she claimed, to neutralize any bad juju. I place no faith in sage, but saw no harm in hedging my bets. What I do believe in is goodwill, the beneficent wishes that travel across distances and time. There was a moment when I envisioned some magnanimous handoff—a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator, my custom stationery in a drawer. My magnanimity passed at some algid point in the negotiations.