Living in NYC
My first visit to the Big Apple was in 1961 on a family vacation. We stayed at The New Yorker hotel near Madison Square Garden. I was only 10 or 11 years old and was likely a bit overwhelmed by the big city. Fortunately my dad took care of all the details and we just enjoyed. We rode in lots of cabs, saw a Yankees game, Empire State, Statue, and the taping of 2 game shows - one was The Price is Right. Later visits included vacations with a friend and then 4 trips to market a round backgammon board. I conducted business in a day or two and then spent several days exploring the city - museums, shows, sights, and naborhoods. Starting in 1981, I conducted 11 study tours.
During each of these trips to the Big Apple, I would comment on how much I would like to live there. So, my parents, Jim & Lorraine Watson, who passed away in 2002 and 2003, gave me a wonderful gift of inheritance.

So I bought an apartment in New York City
Thanksgiving, 2003, I flew up and stayed in the Gershwin Hotel (former study tour home) and met a broker that had been recommended by a UCO colleague. She asked what i was looking for and what some of my criteria were. Near a subway stop, near Union Square, and could be a studio or a 1-bedroom. All the units she showed me had views of other buildings. I told her, "I grew up in Texas and live in Oklahoma, I need a vista." She replied that we needed to go downtown to Battery Park City. We had run out of weekend, so we scheduled those visits for January, 2004. Battery Park City is along the Hudson River by the World Trade Center. We looked at apartments for two days. One at the end of a cul-de-sac had promise - a balcony looking over some trees to the Hudson River. The third day I went and walked the neighborhood to see if it 'felt right'. It did. I made an offer.

Objectives and rationale for buying an apt in NYC:
• Experience the city as a resident, not a tourist.
• A getaway where I could work on projects in the comfort of my own home.
• A place to keep the dogs while I explored the city and the surrounding tri-state area.
• An investment in New York City real estate.

Sleeping in an apartment in New York City was surreal. "What am I doing here? What have I done?"
it was a fun week - outfitting an apartment in a new town. Enjoying the process and the city. The sheet below detailed pertinent info and a long to do list and things to buy. I did not want to pack things back and forth, so I bought duplicates of many things. The goal was to later be able to grab my laptop and pills, and go to the airport.

The focus of the apartment is the balcony and the view of the Hudson River, Ellis Island, and the New Jersey shore. All of the apartment's late-80s-era decoration, built-in shelves, mirrors, and multiple ceiling moldings, was removed; the walls were stripped of paint, wallpaper, and faux finishes; refinished; and painted pure white. The minimal furniture and accessories provide a respite and haven from the bustle and busyness of the city.
The furniture in the living room and bedroom is on an angled grid providing slight tension to the grid of the walls and the building (larger floor plan at bottom of this page). The angle orients the furniture to the river view and is similar to the overlapping grids of lower Manhattan. The city grew with different neighborhood grids. It wasn't until 1811 that the city superimposed the straight grid for the rest of the island.


Around the apartment
Photos by Jim Watson and by Beau Wade, Fall 2010

Before & after fotos or Bephore & aphter photos












































Innovations
Book Shelves
At the ICFF - International Contemporary Furniture Fair - in May 2006 at the NY Convention Center, I saw in the Umbra display, a stack of books sitting on a new product, called the Conceal Shelf. It works with a lip to hold the bottom book cover and a horizontal shelf part hidden inside book. Nice, but I wanted a shelf just for a book or two. The fairly large vertical wall mount area of the Conceal Shelf would show (its a true concealed shelf only if you stack enough books or items on top to conceal the metal support plate). I looked in several stores and saw the brackets that are simply metal rods or dowels sticking out to hold glass shelves. I made the connection: cut a hole inside of book pages and slide the book over the rod. The support rod is completely hidden and the book becomes the shelf - hence the name - Book Shelf. In Home Depot, I was about to buy the brackets when realized this could also replace the nitestand by the bed. A series of Book Shelves mounted on the wall next to the bed. Eureka. I wanted to go home and work this out before buying the brackets.

Shelves for books made of books with no visible means of support. Sketches

Riding the subway home I got pretty excited about the idea - so, I pulled out the only paper I had - a receipt from Bed Bath & Beyond, and started sketching to get my thoughts down on paper. I started to work out the details - how many books/shelves, the layout arrangement, list of items that will go on the shelves, etc. Maybe a magazine to hold magazines? Maybe cut the books at the angle of the carpet tiles? I had previously experimented with angle cuts on a table top mat and the dog bowl floor mat. I liked the idea of mixing the angles - the book shelves would align with the grid of the carpet yet be cut to be positioned up against the wall. I have a bedside clock that projects the time on the ceiling. I realized this would not allow the shelves to be stacked and aligned vertically because I didn't want the clock to be on the top shelf (too predominant). Placing the clock on a lower shelf necessitated the random asymmetrical layout of the three shelves.

Now to find the right three books. Strand Books is a New York institution - near Union Square, its an old musty book store, crammed with new and old books, people browsing and jostling through the aisles. I was reminded of Strand when I saw their kiosk at Central Park. I remembered the Strand Annex downtown, not too far from the apartment. Once there, I looked thru the dollar books (investing 3 dollars for the shelves would be a great bargain). Alas, I found no books large enough. I had determined three preliminary goals for the book selection: big, cheap, and some relevance. Then in the religion section, I found a large book on The Story of Jesus and it was only $10. I could handle $10. I had accepted that the dollar per book deal was out and I would have to pay to get the effect I wanted. At $10, the total would still be only $30 - cheaper than any shelf at a store. Then nearby I found The History of Islam. What a kick, now if I could find a large book having to do with Hebrews or Judaism, then that could be the theme - the world's major religions, especially as a nitestand for Jim Watson. But I couldn't find a large book with a Jewish theme for less than $20. I wasn't willing to spend quite that much. I also realized that this theme would be fun for a while - quite ironic to have religious books as reading matter, but I would likely tire of looking at those spines day after day. No, I needed something better. So, I kept looking. Maybe a theme of Design. So over to that section. Whoa, too expensive. I did find a large inexpensive book on Frank Lloyd Wright. Cool. After browsing lots of shelves and tabletops, I saw a large book called Stuff and Nonsense. What a great title and a fitting for my apartment. Then the thought - what about a New York theme. Over to that section. There were several coffee table size books, some of them cheap. One was too thin to hold the brackets, however. I also saw a collection of books all in grey covers. Maybe? A consistent color in the shelves. No, that would stray too far from the concept of having it look like three random books protruding from the wall supporting other books and magazines. I went back to what I had already - the book on Frank Lloyd Wright, Stuff and Nonsense, and for the third, a book on New York City. Good assortment. Done.

The brackets - or rods as they are used here; the 3 books marked up for cutting; and a book with the pages cut out (to hide the rods), rods shown for placement.


So far, I had the idea pretty solid in my head, a few rough sketches, the brackets, and three books. I bought the bracket/rods at Home Depot. The first step was to cut the books - the angle to respect the carpet grid and the cavity inside to hold the and conceal the support rods. I used stacks of foam mounting tape to hold the bottom of the book up against the book cover and to provide some snugness to embrace the rods. It was a bit weird to cut up books, but I reminded myself that they were bargain books - there were several more if I really wanted to go back and buy a virgin book and they were in the bin of leftovers of books that had been picked over and rejected by many people. I read each of the books (the Stuff and Nonsense book was just, well, nonsense stuff). I had put up three strips of tape in the bedroom to begin to determine placement of the shelves. I knew by this time that the bottom shelf would hold the alarm clock - I wanted to hide its electrical cord as much as possible and this would be the least visible. This bottom shelf would also hold a notepad, pen, and coaster for a glass. Therefore there needed to be space above the left side for the clock and glass.
Installation: Drilling holes and putting in the rods; the rods all in; book shelves slid onto the rods; the finished Book Shelves.

Inspiration: May, 2006
Store search: June 14-15, 2006
Design: June 16-17
Production: June 18-19

A true wall clock

Inspired by the kitsch clock in the Oklahoma house, I designed a clock in NY that embraced the wall at the end of the bedroom. The OK clock allowed me to realize that the face of a clock can be made of just about anything - including the wall the mechanism is mounted on. I explored sketches of cubes and numbers that could be mounted on the walls, ceiling, and the ac unit. But, when I bought the clock mechanism, it came with the 4" sans serif numbers shown above. Great. Sometimes, serendipity works well. I simply applied the numbers to the wall. Each number is located in its correct path but at varying lengths from the clock. The numbers wrap around corners, some are flat, others vertical and the '9' is on the mini-blinds, barely noticeable during the day, but more apparent when the blinds are shut for the evening. The seemingly random chaos of the number placement offsets the structured grid of the statues and buildings on the wall to the left of the clock.



Tour of the apartment and its contents (artwork is italicized)
Entry foyer/hallway
Pocket shelves On the wall by the front door are 5 small shelves to hold the stuff taken out of pockets upon arrival in the apartment. Once displayed on the shelves, the items become pieces of art, taking on a new life.
Greetings from New York City On the door is an enlargement of an old postcard in the typical 'Greetings from . . ' style. Facing one on the way out, it provides a bit of color and whimsy as one steps out into the city.
Karim vase and dog bowl In the summer, a dog bowl, raised for better eating habits, is in a Karim Rashid vase.

Living room furniture and art
Eames Plywood Lounge Chair Experimenting in the 1940s with thin sheets of wood veneer formed under heat and pressure, Ray and Charles Eames put their design genius to work for the war effort making splints, stretchers, and glider shells. After the war, they adapted the technology to furniture making. With a seat and back sculpted to fit the contours of the human body, Time magazine named it the Best Design of the 20th Century.
Pavilion Chair This black chair was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona, Spain. The design is based on the classic scissors-shaped chairs that symbolized power in ancient cultures.
Laccio Table This is one of a set of nesting tables designed by Marcel Breuer of the Bauhaus in 1925. It reflects the experimentation the Bauhaus designers did with bent and chromed steel.
Finlandia vase (on the Breuer table) Alvar Aalto integrated the natural contours of the Finnish landscape into his freeform vase series. This vase, mouth-blown of lead-free crystal, was introduced at the Paris World's Fair of 1936. At that time, its meandering form and elegant beauty were highly revolutionary - a culture shock. It is now called the world's most famous vase and an icon of 20th century modern design. Inside the vase is a bunch of sticks broken from a bamboo curtain bought at the Pearl River Chinese Market.
Quovis Tables There are 2 satin-finish stainless steel units along the long wall. They hold the souvenir kitsch and a 3D model of Manhattan and DVDs and a printer. Another table sits opposite and contains a television. A large work table faces the window view and doubles as a dining table when necessary.
Vignelli/Heller set On the large Quovis table is a setting of durable plastic dishes designed by Massimo Vignelli in 1970 and produced by Heller. They are used here to organize office supplies.
Caper Chairs (at the Quovis large table) Winner of a 1999 NeoCon Gold Award for task/workstation seating, this Herman Miller chair was designed by Jeff Weber and Bill Stumpf (designers of the famed Aeron Chair). The seat and back use 100% recyclable materials and promote ergonomic flexibility and durability.
James the Doorman (by the balcony door) From black+blum, an English-Swiss partnership based in London, this is evidence of their philosophy to design products that are fun and affordable.
Asterisk Clock On the living room wall is one of a series of clocks designed by George Nelson and produced in the 1950s.
Library Along one wall are slanted and lipped shelves holding a variety of books about New York City and brochures of things to see. The brackets are intended for shoe shelves but I installed the shelves so that they were at a more acute angle to expose the books more and take up less space in the passageway. The books and brochure covers become works of art to be viewed in a different context.
Flor The entire apartment floor is covered with carpet tiles from Flor. They are touted for their ease of installation, are easy to replace, and can be washed in the sink. Carpet tiles have been used for years in office situations - they are now available for home use. The red rectangle under the furniture transcends the two rooms and the balcony to unify the spaces into one open plan.
Papiro Lamps Designed by Sergio Calatroni, these are 9 feet tall stems that can be bent to any configuration. There is one between each of the Quovis units and two in the bedroom, aimed to light reading material while lying in bed. The organic line they form provides a counterpoint to the rigid geometry of the stainless steel units.
iPod setup The iPod sits in a self-contained unit on the kitchen counter. It has great sound and allows me to control it from the bedroom with a radio-frequency remote control.
New York Kitsch On a Quovis table is a collection of souvenir geegaws and kitsch that grows with each guest visit to the apartment. A photo of Jim's parents, in recognition and gratitude for the apartment.
3D New York New York skyline model On the unit in the corner is a large 3D puzzle model of the New York City skyline, pre 9/11. From Wrebbit, Canadian maker of foam puzzles since 1991, it took weeks to put together - over 3,000 pieces. It is quite detailed, but, unfortunately the puzzle was designed and produced before the Cove Club condominium (where apartment 5S is) was finished.
Balcony chairs These two chairs are rustic wood post construction like those found in the National Parks of the west. With the print of Monument Valley, these reflect the wide open relaxed nature of western US parks. The green plastic table with organic pedestal base complements and contrasts the rustic chairs.
Rashid Ego & ID vase Mounted above the kitchen pass-thru counter is a vase by Karim Rashid, Ego & ID. The profile of the vase is in the form of a human face. The vase/bowl was produced and hand made by mglass. It is probably derived from Renato Bertelli's 1933 sculpture of Benito Mussolini.
MetroCard columns Three vertical sculptural columns are made of 735 recycled MetroCards collected over a period of several months. The cards take on a new life - from utilitarian access to aesthetic repetition.
5x5 by NY In the living room is a grid of 25 gray framed black & white 3" square photos of classic New York City icons. The images were cut from a book of postcards.
Monument Valley The wide photo of Monument Valley in southern Utah serves as the antithesis to the bustle and crowded environment of the city. It is another of Watson's favorite places. The towers of rock match the towers of rock in the Manhattan skyscrapers.
Serenity vase A simple glass vase with sticks and twigs rising up as a reminder to slow down, calmify, and center on nature.
Super FlipOut This 2003 toy is by Chuck Hoberman. Hoberman Designs combines creative design with precision engineering to create products that delight the eye, stimulate the mind, and introduce the unexpected. Super FlipOut changes colors and shape when you throw it in the air.
Television In April 2010, after 6 years of no television and no Internet connection (I had been stealing WiFi from some anonymous nabers in the building), I decided to remedy that cultural faux pas. I canceled the OK cable and applied that money to the NY cable, which is $10 cheaper than in OK. How exciting to connect to the world again - morning shows, game shows, Modern Family, and NBC Thursday nite. In July 2013, after some Time-Warner billing overcharges, I canceled the services and went back to watching TV and using the WiFi in the building club room.

Kitchen
Sink and fixtures Watson replaced the typical sink faucet with a brushed aluminum style bar faucet. This allows easier filling of large vessels in the sink and sleekifies the counter. The faucet fixtures are set asymmetrically to the sink - the faucet and the valve handle are easier to get to and operate. The opposite counter has a coffee maker and industrial-strength blender.
Recycling cart The cart for recycling is assembled of elements from Elfa. It has two deep storage bins, easy access, and is on casters to roll to the recycle room. New Yorkers take recycling very seriously. There are receptacles for the separated materials in the trash closet on each floor of the building.
Subway Map Large version of the 2004 map of the New York City subway lines. It is functional art. It is hung with brushed aluminum slip-on hangers designed by Jergen Moller in 1982 and made in Denmark.

Bedroom
Case Study Bed The bed was designed by George Nelson as part of the Case Study House program of 1949 sponsored by Art and Architecture magazine. This model is cherry wood with a solid foam mattress. It is oriented in the room to take advantage of the view and to show off the graceful biomorphic brackets that support the headboard.
The burgundy bedspread is a copy of the 1933 Bed Cover designed by Lilly Reich (working out of the Berlin office of Mies van der Rohe) for the E 52nd St apartment of architect and MoMA curator, Philip Johnson.
Bubu stool Another Philippe Starck design - this one from France, 1991 - a dressing stool of orange polypropylene commands the space between the headboard and the closet.
Family fotos Jim's dogs - Dallas, Austin, Vegas, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
Eames cards column Large interlocking cards with images and graphics by Ray & Charles Eames.
Vignelli's New York City Subway Diagram 2008 Massimo Vignelli designed a stylized schematic Beck-style map/diagram for the New York City subway system in 1972. He had designed all the graphics and signage for the system in 1966. I got a free map in 1977, now mounted in the apartment bathroom - see below. In 2008, Men's Vogue magazine commissioned Vignelli to revise and update his 1972 map. They offered a limited edition for sale but those sold out within 2 hours. This one in the bedroom was a gift from Massimo and his assistant Beatriz after we visited with them in Massimo's apartment/office for 2.5 hours in May, 2008.
More Than Ever poster Milton Glaser, a founder of the trend-setting PushPin Studios in the 1950s, designed the original 'I heart New York' mark in 1977. It has since become a graphic icon, mimicked all over the world. After 9/11, Glaser expressed his feelings by redesigning the classic mark by adding 'More Than Ever' and a slight bruise on the heart. He sent his new version to a friend at the New York Post who, unknown to Glaser, had it run on the full back page the next day. It was a hit. People posted them all over town and they were much in demand. Then the poster version was printed and distributed. This is one of those original posters, signed by Milton Glaser in 2006 (I took it by his office and left it for him to autograph).
The Gates, Central Park, New York City, Christo and Jeanne-Claude The black-framed piece is a print of sketches by Christo of their first site-specific work in their hometown of New York City. This temporary work, mounted for 2 weeks in Febuary 2005, consisted of 7,500 orange gate frames with hanging orange fabric spaced throughout 23 miles of Central Park walkways. The print is signed by Christo.
Book Shelves Designed and built by Jim Watson in the summer of 2006, these are shelves of books supported by steel rods protruding from the wall and hidden inside the books themselves.
Ode to New York (above right: assembly line gluing) In the bedroom are 96 miniature Statues of Liberty and 96 miniature Empire State Buildings - two of the most recognizable New York icons. The 192 models are arranged in a grid in the footprint plan of the World Trade Center towers. The statues face the door, welcoming guests (emigrants) into the space, the buildings are oriented as they are in Manhattan. Beneath each piece is a 'white shadow' symbolizing purity and a void or loss - something missing. The two icons - vital tourist attractions - represent liberty and now the tallest building in New York City, standing strong. The photos, top row right, show how light and shadows play on the art during the day - creating ever-changing points of interest.
Wall clock
Dyson Air Multiplier This new unconventional fan, from the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, draws in air and amplifies it - 15 times greater. With no blades or grille, its safer and easier to clean and it produces an uninterrupted stream of smooth air, with no unpleasant buffeting.

Bathroom
Shower curtain Grey typographical curtain of miscellaneous water-related words. Hung on rings and chains to allow the curtain rod to be high up on the wall (so I don't have to duck under it).
Vignelli subway map This framed map is from Watson's personal collection - I got it free as a tourist in 1977 and saved it, not knowing its history as a classic icon of graphic design. During spring 2008, I visited Massimo in his home/office and he signed the map.
• The bathroom is lit by 6 spiral energy efficient fluorescent fixtures.

The Flor tiles
The entire apartment floor is covered with carpet tiles from Flor. They are touted for their ease of installation, are easy to replace, and can be washed in the sink. Carpet tiles have been used for years in office situations - they are now available for home use.
The furniture in the living room and bedroom is on an angled grid providing slight tension to the grid of the walls and the building. The red rectangle under the furniture transcends the two rooms and the balcony to unify the spaces into one open plan.






3D New York New York skyline model
I had joined my brother and his family in Stillwater in spring 2006 to watch my nephew Jim play lacrosse. It was a fun weekend - we ate at Mexico Joe's, toured the campus, watched the lacrosse games, and, of course, we finished up at Eskimo Joe's, the t-shirt-famous Stillwater institution. At one point, my sister-in-law, Sandy surprised me with a gift of this puzzle. She had seen it and thought I should have it (she also bought one for niece Tracy who loves New York City). Three of my favorite things are puzzles, models, and New York City. Here was a gift that contained all three. How cool. I shipped it to the NY apartment in April and I worked on it a little bit during 3 trips in April and May - I finished the base outline and the two World Trade Center towers. When I returned to the apt for the summer, I worked on it in earnest and completed it after a week of working on it - it is quite detailed and extensive - unfortunately the puzzle was designed and produced before the Cove Club condominium (where apartment 5S is) was finished.. It looks good on one of the trolley units where it anchors the table corner.
Name: Puzz 3D New York New York; Designer: Paul Gallant; Number of pieces: 3,141
Date begun: April, 2006; Date completed: June 10, 2006









The great purge of 2010
After I retired in spring of 2009 and decided to no longer teach studio courses (I continued to teach a history lecture course), I conducted a major purge of stuff in both Oklahoma and New York. In the NY apartment, I donated bags of items to Goodwill, gave some away, and sold some items through the condo digital network. I posted this flier:

I rearranged the furniture in the living room (before and after photos and floor plans below).


Items removed in January 2010
Bar stools Two brushed steel grid structured stools.
Vase of grasses The organic glass vase on the balcony terrace held a lawn of grasses to provide a touch of backyard sight and smell.
Chorus line of batters A collection of unused trophies rearranged and mounted in a straight line. I discovered the trophies in a box outside the apartment building. They had been unclaimed from a just-completed kid's baseball tournament and the man holding the box was about to throw them all away. I asked and received the whole boxload.

Quovis Table The satin-finish stainless steel units along the long wall held pictures, books, magazines, maps, television, iPod music system speakers, and a printer.

Mag table Designed by Eric Pfeiffer in 1999, a continuous sheet of contoured birch plywood performed double duty - it nested the floor pillows and formed a table surface for meals while watching TV.

iPod setup The iPod sat in a dock on one of the Quovis tables. To hide the connections and the controls, I hollowed out a book and cut channels for the cords. All the unsightly stuff fit inside the book and out of sight. 12 years later, I saw this similar hollow book for sale.

Door text Lettering on the balcony door instructed the guest on how to lock/unlock the door and which way to push/pull the door: Pull for fresh air, to hear sounds of the city, and watch the sunset. Push to do great things, back inside. Grey vinyl letters applied directly to the glass allowed them to take on new life as text art.
Digit Message Tape Wrapping around the column between the foyer and the kitchen was a favorite quote written on tape designed by SuckUK in London. The tape is printed with digital readouts - the user then blacks out segments so the remaining segments form letters. The quote is from a 1975 poster produced by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom: It will be a great day in America when the schools have all the money they need and the military has to hold a bake sale.
Tool cart

Do Frame Tape From Droog, the design collective in the Netherlands, this Rococo patterned tape, designed by Marti Guixe, framed a mirror on the mirror.
Sucker A collection of designers and practitioners from Holland, Droog produces a variety of innovative, functional, and witty objects. This is a knob/holder that sticks by suction in its soft plastic, designed by Leon Ramakers & Jan Hoekstra, 2005.

Floor plan sketches
As soon as I put in a bid on the apartment, I obtained a floor plan and began sketching some options for remodeling. Many plans included removing the wall between the rooms and opening up the apt into a loft space.




A checklist used to prep trips back and forth

Renting the apartment
One of the criteria for buying an apt was to have a space that I could share with friends, a Manhattan place they could stay in while I wasn't there. Knowing that others would be in the space impacted my decisions on the location and the building; the furniture and artwork. Over 150 people stayed in the apartment from spring 2004 to fall 2015.
In 2015, I stopped renting the apartment for these reasons:
• I was satisfied that, during 12 years, I helped over 140 people experience New York City at low cost.
• People abused the apartment too much - wall scuffs, rearranging furniture, stains on carpet; missing items: umbrella, shopping bag, laundry card, and more.
• Didn't want to feel pressured to clean the apartment on my last day in New York. On the last day, I want to go enjoy the city, come back to get my laptop, and go to the airport.

Guest info and map
I emailed these two sheets - information and a map - to each prospective guest.

Midtown and Fifth Avenue, Design district: Madison & Union Squares, SoHo

The info sheet provided details on the usage procedure, how to get to the apartment, and other pertinent info to help someone feel comfortable staying in the apt. The map showed routes to get to 4 subway lines, restraunts and services that are close to the building, and locations of landmarks and sights to see. Both pages were in pdf form so the renter could print them out and take them to NY on their trip. In the apartment was a printout of the tour of the space, detailing the philosophy and rationale for the interior design and info about the furniture:

Guest notification form
When a unit owner had guests stay in their apartment, the owner (me) was required to fill out this form and hand-deliver or fax it to the concierge or building manager.

Above left: the form that was provided by the management. It was most likely, as so often happens, simply typed by an administrative assistant.
Above right: the form that I used instead. I discussed the form with the primary users - the concierges who checks people in and out - to learn what they preferred and how they actually processed the form. The form info was entered into a computer and then filed in a large binder notebook for reference at the front desk. I discovered the elements that were most necessary and the order in which they were read off of the form. The information was prioritized and designed from the user's point of view. Later, at the front desk, I glanced at their notebook of forms and noticed that they hand wrote the apt number in the upper right, so I added it to the form to save them the trouble. By 2013, no forms were used as all requests could be done online or through the BuildingLink app.

Renter statistics
Dates: March 2004 - April 2016 - 12 years
Guests: 85 groups; 158 people
2004    8  16  Brent; David & guest; Tina, Zev & Isaac; Eric; Doug & Dottie; Terry, Susan & Alexx; Nancy & Chuck; Bill & Ruth
2005    7  15  Sarah & Chip; Allison & Astrid; Clint, Gus & 2 guests; Larry & Jo; Brian & Mom; Cole; Bill & Ruth
2006    7  12  Steve; Greg, wife & children; Gail; Gus; Jon & Tana; Tim & Shannon; Carolin
2007    9  17  Gail & Pam; Larry & family; Tim & Shannon; Bill & Ruth; Richard & guest; Michael; Tim; Mitch Baker; Alfonso & guest
2008  14  24  Anita & Susan; Paul; Bill & daughter; Steve; Chris & Susan; Susan & huband; Alfonso; Michael & Mary; Sean; Amy & sisters; Joy & Mike; Carl; Paul & Mary; Gayle & Lori
2009    5  10  Frank; Roberta & Steve; Frank; Mitch & Meghann; Frank; Dave & Steve; Frank; Gayle, Lori & guest
2010  10  13  Frank; Gayle & Ann; Frank; Martrese & Dave; Frank; Keegan & Jessica; John & guest; Cole & guest; Keegan & Jessica; Amy & guest
2011    4    7  Martrese & Brandon; Beau; Pat & guest; Sean & Michelle
2012    4    8  Dylan, Amanda & Jessica; Dave; Sean & Michelle; Alyson & Meleia
2013    9  19  Sean & Katherine; John & 2 guests; Cole & Patricia; Kamla, Revanoor & son; Bruce & Laura; Alfonso & Kim; Julie; Martrese & Dave; Gayle & Lori
2014    4    6  Alfonso; Amy & 2 friends; Michael; Gayle
2015    6  10  Allison & Randy; Ruki & Junaid; Gayle & daughter; Pat; Beau; Martrese & Dave
2016    1    1  Ruki

Selling the apartment
Wensday, June 19, 2013: While taking a fun road trip through Texas, I realized I wanted to take more of those trips.
A short while later, while sitting on Governors Island, I felt that I had been there, done that - some of the allure of New York City had diminished. Maybe it is time to sell. But, several people who understand NYC real estate better than I adamantly encouraged me to not sell - to hold on to the investment. As the new office towers, shops, and restaurants open, there will be an increased demand for housing and prices will rise. I will make back what I have paid in monthly fees. I listened and heeded their advice.
Three years later, in the spring of 2016, I reconsidered and decided for certain that the time was right to sell - for a variety of reasons:
• I achieved my goal - living in and experiencing NYC as a resident, a New Yorker, not a tourist. After 12 years, I am very satisfied with living in the big city: shopping, day trips, shows, parks, walks, naberhoods, fixing up the apt.
• The excitement of living in New York had diminished a bit.
• The dogs (one getting old and one has a bit of separation anxiety) don't really like NYC as much as I do - they might vote not to sit in a car for 6 days, motel rooms, and the apt (or they might vote to be with me rather than in a kennel). The dogs are just as thrilled to walk in OK and go to the dogpark. Hudson River means nothing to them. Having my dogs with me in NYC was all for me.
• Brooklyn (the dog) isn't very condo appropriate. I'm not comfortable leaving her alone for very long.
•Tired of the hassle and money to travel with dogs, walking the dogs two or three times a day, being limited in activities, and cleaning up poop.
• Charles, Frank, Beau, and Taylor had all left Manhattan, I made no more day trips from the city.
• Not going to as many expensive Broadway shows.
• Want to merge stuff and have new furniture, clothes, dishes, and stuff at home; renovate office with wheeled tables.
• Want to travel to other destinations.
• Want to redistribute savings. Buy stuff. Have a rainy day fund.
• Look forward to staying in fun hotels in different NYC naberhoods. With TV, WiFi, and coffee shops.
It is the end of owning a NYC apt, but not the end of the NYC experience.
What I'll miss
• Having my own bed, bathroom, and kitchen.
• Making my own breakfast, meals at home.
• Walking the dogs in the big city.
• Enjoying the view from the balcony.
• Walking home after sitting along the Hudson, sightseeing, or shopping.
• Driving cross-country with dogs, Effingham, Washington, Columbus, Springfield.
• Visiting NYC was easier - I could arrive at any time, no reservations.
• Walking the dogs downtown and sitting along the Hudson, Battery Park, North Cove.
• Sitting and eating on the balcony.
• Feeling like a NYC resident and homeowner: shopping, shows, parks, walks, naberhoods; helping guide tourists.
• Unique naborhoods: Madison Square, Union Square, Central Park, LES.
• Grading tests on the plane and in airports.

• Remodeling construction at the airport in OKC.
• Taking trains from Newark airport to WTC.
• Day trips: Teddy Roosevelt's Oyster Bay, Levittown, Woodstock site, Princeton, Edison sites, Craftsman farms, Norman Rockwell's Sturbridge Village and Studio, FDR's Hyde Park, train to Hudson.
• Drive memories: Manny vomit, McDonald stops, Missouri rest area ticks, Effingham IL: Motel 6 & Super 8, downtown tour, Walmart, walks; Washington PA: Motel 6, campus, US 40, walks, Panera, walk houses; old US 40, Penn Turnpike rest areas, NJ turnpike, city views, Holland Tunnel, driving in Manhattan, Verrazano Bridge.
• Drive stops Eastbound: Effingham & Washington; Richmond
• Drive stops Westbound: Columbus & Springfield MO; Columbus & St Robert; Indianapolis & Springfield; Columbus & Cuba; Cloverdale.

A friend helped me clean the apt. I rearranged and shot some photos before I left:


The listing on the broker's website:


The broker rearranged the furniture for the photographer:

I called her and told her how unappealing the apt looked. I sent her the floor plan of how it could look better:

She graciously rearranged and reshot the photos:



Later, I moved all the furniture to OK. Seeing the apartment completely empty took me by surprise. It was happening - I was all out. Sorta sad.



The Broker removed the carpet tiles and had the apt rephotographed:


Prepping the move
I cut apart the MetroCard columns and threw them away. Dismantled the 3D model of the city for packing in a box. Saw how much stuff I had to take to Goodwill and realized it would be quite a hassle. I posted a notice on the building internal site for a 2-hour, free stuff, Groj sale:

I propped open the door and arranged the stuff for better viewing. 4 people came by and took quite a lot of stuff. It made the trek to Goodwill much easier. After the 'sale', I brought up the building luggage cart and loaded the TV, an Ikea bag of crap, and much of the rest. I pushed the cart and the two chairs (on casters) with a table on the seat down to the street. Good friend Seth walked up and helped me roll to the curb where I called for an Uber SUV. That took about 10 minutes. We loaded up and drove on to the Goodwill on 14th Street, about 2 blocks from Union Square. Seth lugged the TV into Goodwill - we were told they no longer accept those tube TVs, only flat screens. He said we had to put it on the curb by the apt and call the City to come pick it up. We walked out, and I told Seth, "Forget that, just set it on the curb up here by the corner." 14th St and 8th Avenue. After getting coffee, we wandered back by and saw that the TV was gone.

Moving Day
I woke up at 2a and, despite more sleeping pills, never got back to sleep. At 5 I got up and went to work with some final details (like taking the bed apart) - movers would arrive about 8:45. I don't do too well emotionally when sleep-deprived.
I went downstairs to turn in the deposit for moving damages and then took a walk to the river. Back at the building, I saw the moving van and 4 guys. We went in and went over the procedure. They were good - they packed, wrapped, and dollied everything out in 1.5 hours. It went so fast, I didn't have time to vacuum the floor before they wrapped up the vacuum. All of a sudden, I was alone in a completely empty apartment. I looked around and lay down on the floor. Within seconds, I was a blubbering buffoon. It was all over. I prepped for it, I knew it was coming, but, pow, it just hit! Seeing the apt completely empty made it so real and so clear.

I worried that the super would come in (to check for damages) and see me laying on the floor sobbing. I got up and dried my eyes. I left the empty apartment and went downstairs with my luggage and said goodbye to the Bldg Mgr and the head Concierge. I'm sure they saw my red eyes (oh well). I then crossed the street to the river and sat on the same bench on which, over 12 years ago, I made the decision to do this great adventure - one of the best decisions I've ever made - to experience the city as a resident.

I watched people and boats for a while, then, while on my way to the dog park, I stopped to help a young couple navigate to the Wall Street Bull (and I gave them a brief history lesson of the surrounding area). As an unofficial City Ambassador, I enjoy the expression that seems to say, 'New Yorkers aren't rude after all' Hell no, we're not rude, you stupid slut.
That helped turn me around - I felt grounded in my town again. I also realized that it was somewhat absurd to be so childish about such a joyous and enriching experience and opportunity. Again, oh well. With a new outlook, I sat and watched dogs a while and went on to the Holiday Inn (tallest one in the world at 50 stories) where I spent the night. With a bit of time distance, I was rational again. It was:
• A great run.
• A hit show.
• A blockbuster exhibit.
• A once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I am eager to return to the city.

Design Prof Shows Off
By David Klein, NONzine, September 29th - October 12th, 2006

"Jim Watson, professor of design at the University of Central Oklahoma and part-time New York City resident, will be a featured designer on the Home and Garden Television program Small Spaces, Big Style on October 8. Watson entered his modestly sized, efficiently designed New York apartment in an HGTV design contest and lost, but a network producer had noticed his apartment and offered to film the space for another show.
"It's just a hoot," Watson said. "But I'm a little worried about how it will turn out."
"Watson's apartment was the essence of New York long before he added his 3-D puzzle of the city's skyline − It is in Lower Manhattan; overlooks the Hudson River; and is a whopping 719 square feet (with the balcony). All it lacks is a sweaty, disheveled cabbie on the couch. From a casual glance, Watson's apartment seems like any contemporary, hip New York apartment, but his meticulous attention to detail makes the space unique. Every item in the apartment is completely functional and well placed. Early in the design process, Watson had walls removed and opened the main room. He used squares of carpet laid at an angle, which create an illusion of space and continuity throughout the apartment and direct the flow of traffic between rooms.
"I tried to create a loft essence in the apartment," Watson said.
"Invisible bookshelves, industrial frames, and seas of landmark statuettes break the routine of the white walls, while stainless steel furniture and accents give the apartment a sterile strength through which the red flooring pops.

"Every room in the apartment is a distinct homage to New York City's vast history and diverse culture with New York maps, books and souvenirs. Watson also displays autographed work from designers he respects including Milton Glaser, Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Watson spends nearly a quarter of the year in the hustle and bustle of New York but loves living in the dawdle and calm of Edmond while school is in session.
"I love every minute in each city," Watson said. "They are perfect antidotes for each other."
"Watson's Edmond home rivals the New York apartment in style while its extra space afforded him the luxury of a detached office and a urinal in the bathroom. Watson's designs spill from his residences into every aspect of life. He is continually improving the status quo in which the average person finds solace. He is not content with standing in an inefficient ticket line or eating at a square restaurant table with unused space. He questions the need to idle on red at a stoplight and wants to use urban street posts as iPod holders. Despite his constant design revision, Watson does not anticipate a redesign for the New York apartment after it takes its permanent place in the annals of the cable television catalogue.
"I've done a couple of things since the filming, but I'm very happy with the apartment," Watson said. "I'm happy with how the space feels."

TV show features local professor as he does big things in small space
By Penny Cockerell, The Oklahoman, September 7, 2006

What happens when a design professor from roomy Oklahoma takes on the challenge of turning a dorm-size Manhattan domain into a showcase that makes even New Yorkers look twice? University of Central Oklahoma professor James Robert Watson's utilitarian design, his disappearing act with the walls and a bold blend of souvenirs turned a basic 630-square-foot apartment into a witty and workable abode. And it soon will be the subject of a segment on HGTV's "Small Spaces, Big Style," most likely to be aired this month.
"The apartment also is Watson's summer escape — which is also an escape within an escape. Watson has loved the bustle of Manhattan since he was a child. But the city's zaniness requires a retreat, which Watson created on the fifth floor of a Battery Park City building with a balcony that faces the Hudson River. Peace is found within these walls, away from Oklahoma, away from New York street life. Watson, 56, bought the apartment after his parents died in 2002 and left him an inheritance. As the son watched his parents languish in intensive care, he realized that in the bigger scheme of things, money meant little. But an apartment in Manhattan - that was something.
"While shopping with a real estate broker, Watson found that most apartments had views of other buildings and that simply wouldn't work for this Oklahoma-Texas hybrid. They moved their shopping spree to Battery Park City, where a "For Sale" sign advertised a fifth-floor apartment. The layout was painfully basic, but it had a balcony that faced the Hudson River. Watson closed the deal in March 2004. Having taught design for 20 years, Watson knew that basic never had to stay that way. But overcoming size was a different challenge. He first set out to erase the walls. The 1980s-style built-in bookshelves had to go, as did the texturing on the walls.
"I had the superintendent just gut the apartment and tear all of that out and repaint the walls a pure white," said Watson, explaining that flat, white walls don't distract from the rest of the room and, in essence, they become invisible. It's a trick that art galleries use. Watson then used cube-shaped carpeting to realign the space at a rectangle. The distinct red carpet has a wow appeal, and its angled placement knocks the whole apartment off center. In short, rather than following the walls, the carpeting defies them.
"The walls create the smallness, so if I can get the perception to ignore the walls, it would make it appear larger," Watson said. "Now when people enter, they don't associate with the grid of the walls, they associate with the grid of the rectangle."

"In keeping with that "out of place" drama, Watson spontaneously turned his bed backward, so it sort of floats in the bedroom and faces the window, rather than bumping against a wall. The reason: He liked the brackets on the headboard so much that he didn't want to hide them. Themes are essential because they provide focus and unity. Watson chose 1950s industrial-style furnishings and made his apartment an unmistakable tribute to New York City. A living room table is full of kitschy New York souvenirs left by visitors. A wall contains 30 framed postcards cut to 3 inches, which leaves viewers guessing just what part of New York they represent. A framed New York subway map stares back from the kitchen wall, and a revised "I (Heart) New York More Than Ever" poster hangs in the bedroom. The revision was done after 9/11, and the heart has a small bruise on it. New Yorkers scooped up the poster in droves.
"Perhaps most startling is a grid of 192 Statues of Liberty and Empire State Buildings protruding from the bedroom wall in the shape of the Twin Tower footprint.
"I can't remember what inspired me to stick them to the wall, but that's what got me thinking that they ought to mean something and that's where the footprint idea came through," Watson said. The horizontal angle of the statues is carried elsewhere, such as in the elongated photo of Monument Valley in Utah, where early Western movies were filmed.
"Horizontal is very soothing and calming. We stretch out horizontally and see the horizon, and I like the content of the towers (naturally formed limestone plateaus) in Monument Valley — they are skyscrapers in a different form," Watson said.
"Watson originally entered his New York digs in a Web site contest called Small Cool Apartments. He didn't win, but his apartment caught the eye of HGTV producers for the "Small Space, Big Style" segment. HGTV will feature his apartment in a "Small Spaces, Big Style" segment under the title, "Uncluttered, Chic and Small Spaces." HGTV producer Sage Rockermann said she liked Watson's use of repetition and the way he twisted the apartment with the rectangled carpeting. She also liked his use of stainless steel tables and furniture on wheels, which gives versatility.
"The space definitely seems very him, a very personal space, but specific ideas from that I think anyone could adapt," Rockermann said. "For example, keeping furniture on wheels so you can use them in different arrangements, that's great for anyone in a small space." She also pointed to how he kept his apartment uncluttered while still having lots of, well, clutter.
"He groups them together," Rockermann said. "For example, one of his tables has all the souvenirs that people collect in the city. If spread out in the apartment it would look like clutter. But grouped together, it looks like a collection." Watson carefully chose each wall hanging, each vase, table and display. Each, therefore, says something distinct to the person viewing it. Each has its reason for taking up room in this small place.
"It turned out much better than I expected," Watson said. "I love being in that space. Some people have commented that they think they're in a gallery. When there's something on the wall, they feel like it's very significant," Watson said. "It is daring and challenging, and that's what I want."
"So, is it true that designers never give up the journey? Or has Watson really finished designing his New York mecca? "I'm never done, but I don't have anything on the to-do list," Watson said. "But then I look up and say, ‘Oh, I could do this over there,' and there's a new project. But at this moment, I'm very satisfied."

UCO professor's New York apartment to appear on HGTV show
The Edmond Sun, August 20, 2006
"University of Central Oklahoma Professor of Design James Robert Watson will have his New York City apartment featured on an upcoming episode of Small Space, Big Style. The program premiers on Home and Garden Television (HGTV) - seen locally on Cox Cable channel 58 - at 3 p.m. today, and several times throughout the remainder of the month. The show features stylish homes under 1,000 square feet. In each episode, the host meets the homeowners and learns the tricks to making the most out of limited space.
"Watson entered a contest on a design Web site by sending in pictures and a floor plan of his 630-square-foot apartment in Battery Park City, Manhattan. Although he didn't win the contest, someone from HGTV noticed his entry on the Web site.
"I got an email from someone at a show on HGTV called Small Space, Big Style," Watson said. "She asked if I was willing to speak with one of their producers and I said, you bet!" The show's production team filmed Watson's apartment in May and included it in the upcoming episode, Uncluttered Chic in Small Spaces. Watson's segment is called Souvenirs That Add Character to a New York Apartment, which examines how he decorated in a New York motif while maximizing his small living space.

Miniature Statues of Liberty line a section of one wall in the New York apartment of Jim Watson, University of Central Oklahoma Professor of Design. The statues are among dozens of New York souvenirs found in the apartment, which will be featured in an upcoming episode of Small Space, Big Style on Home and Garden Television. For times, check your local listings.

"The highlight of the apartment is an "Ode to New York" featuring 96 miniature Statues of Liberty and 96 miniature Empire State Buildings - two of the most recognizable New York icons - arranged in a grid in the footprint plan of the World Trade Center towers. The apartment also includes a 3D puzzle of the New York Skyline illuminated by lamps featuring 9-foot tall stems that can be bent to any configuration. In addition, viewers will see slanted and lipped shelves crafted by Watson that hold books about New York City. Watson inherited the New York City apartment from his parents (sic- not quite correct), who passed away a few years ago. He lives in Edmond and teaches at UCO, but makes New York City his home in the summertime. He also gives study tours there yearly with his UCO students.

Professor's apartment to appear on HGTV
By Andrew Knittle, The Vista, August 29, 2006

Dr. Jim Watson, professor of design, and his NYC apartment will be featured on an upcoming episode of "Small Space, Big Style" on HGTV

Normally, a person with hundreds of miniature Empire State Buildings and tiny Statues of Liberties crammed into a 630 square-foot apartment would be considered a hoarder. But for James Robert Watson, UCO professor of design, having just that earned him - and his NYC apartment - a spot in an upcoming episode of HGTV's show "Small Space, Big Style." Watson, on the UCO staff since 1987, said he was sought by the show's production team after it saw photographs of his Battery City apartment on a design website.
"I got an e-mail from someone at a show on HGTV called 'Small Space, Big Style,'" Watson said. "She asked if I was willing to speak with one of their producers and I said, you bet!" In a segment called "Souvenirs That Add Character to a New York Apartment," the program looked at how Watson deployed his NYC-themed decor to make the most of his small space.
The apartment, where Watson spends his summers, features a 3-D puzzle of the Manhattan skyline and customized, slanted bookshelves - crafted by Watson himself - used to store books about New York City. But it's the "Ode to New York" - 96 miniature Statues of Liberty and 96 miniature Empire State Buildings, arranged meticulously in a blueprint of the Twin Towers - that Watson claims is the space's centerpiece. Filmed back in May, Watson said the process was "exciting, fascinating, intriguing, educational and fun," but not financially enriching.
"No fee," Watson said. "Well, they bought me coffee and lunch." The episode featuring Watson's apartment was originally slated to air August 20, but was postponed due to unspecified reasons. Those interested in catching the program should consult any TV guide or visit HGTV's website for future programming schedules.

Filming for HGTV Small Space, Big Style


In 2006, I entered a contest, Small Cool Apartment, on a website. I sent in pictures and a floor plan. The contest was sort of silly, but it did give me some exposure. I got an email from someone at a show on HGTV called, Small Space, Big Style. She asked if I was willing to speak with one of their producers. You betcha - what a hoot. The producer called and we talked a while and she looked at more pix and info on this website. She said she would work up a proposal and 'pitch it to the network' (so Hollywood). A few weeks later I got a phone call to schedule the filming date. Cool. We agreed on Thursday, May 18th. They sent the legal forms for me to sign and return and some info on what to expect and how to prepare. I flew back to NYC on the 17th - I had just left NY on the 14th with a student group.
The HGTV show that aired in October of 2006 emphasized the challenges inherent when working with small spaces - how to make them feel larger. I addressed this in the apartment several ways - furniture on wheels, not placing furniture up against the walls, and a table that adapts to multiple uses; but the two main design solutions that help to perceptually enlarge the space are the wall color and the overlapping grids. What makes an apartment feel small is the walls encroaching on the space. Since I couldn't get rid of the walls (the nabers would complain) I strove to make them less apparent. I had them painted pure white - partly to allow the visitor to feel like in a gallery, a space that we are conditioned to we perceive as large. Also, white makes no statement concerning warm, cool, soft, hard, etc. It is a very neutral color. I also placed artwork on the walls that further enhanced the feeling of a gallery. Method 2 is the grid that defies the walls. The red rectangle in the carpet and the placement of the furniture are on a grid alignment that is at an angle to the walls. This further demotes the importance and presence of the walls. The combination of the gallery-white walls and the defiant grid help the visitor to ignore the space-limiting walls.


Filming day
I woke up at 7am and did some last minute preps in the apartment. I was a bit apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. I went downstairs and waited outside. Saw some guys in a van looking for a parking place. Figured it was the crew. Introduced myself to Jake (sound), Adam (cameraman), and Alex (camera assistant). We went inside to meet the building manager and get some guidance on what to film in the building and how to get around. They drove into the building garage, unloaded the van and met us up on the 5th floor. By this time, Amanda (Director/Field Producer) had arrived and we went inside. She walked me through the day's activities and eased my fears some for what I needed to do. We shot lots of footage for what will probably be just a 10 minute segment on the show. The director and, sometimes, the camera and sound guys, would talk me through a scene, then we would shoot it, then review thoughts and make any adjustments in the pacing and monologue, then shoot a couple more takes. Sometimes, we'd 'nail it' and only shoot once with one backup for safety. They shot me talking about the space, my objectives for the renovations, the furniture, and my design philosophies. We broke for lunch and sat on the Hudson Esplanade during a beautiful day in New York. The assistant had taken our orders and had the food ready for us. We had sushi from The Wave across from the condo building.
We filmed in the bedroom, bathroom, foyer, kitchen, living room, and balcony with me talking, close-up shots of furniture and accessories, a time-lapse sequence, background ambient sound, and 'beauty shots' for splicing in throughout the segment. We shot several takes of each section - sometimes I thought of different things to say, sometimes I screwed up, and sometimes a plane or truck would be too loud in the background. We had to film with the AC off and it got a bit hot. Alex took coffee orders in the afternoon and went to Starbucks for the afternoon break. The 4 tapes, the log of scenes, and still shots of major filmed sections were FedExed to the post-production facility in Maryland where the producer and another crew will edit the footage into a cohesive segment for the show.
It was a fascinating process to watch and a great experience that I'm glad I was able to participate in.

The people
The production staff
Producer: Lauren
Associate Producer: Nicole
Series Producer: Sage
The film crew
Director/Field Producer: Amanda
Director of Photography: Adam
Sound: Jake
Camera Assistant: Alex
The crew were New Yorkers who were hired by HGTV to film several homes in the area. They were each very professional and knowledgeable yet very personable. We had a good time.



Loft Living

By Laura Verticchio, FLOR Community website, October 13, 2005


The logo identity

The verticality of the condensed geometric letterforms for FIVE represent the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan. The organic curves of the S represent the Hudson River and Hudson Bay. The overlapping and varying shades of grey convey the somewhat chaotic nature of Manhattan and the layered complexity of experiencing New York City.
The letterforms that spell out Jim Watson Apartment Downtown Manhattan are also condensed for verticality. The lines of type represent the grid of city streets that is common to Manhattan above downtown. Sketches and dersign: 2005.

Accolades from the web
I entered a contest online called Small Cool Apartment. I posted pictures and descriptions of the interior of the apartment. Following are some of the comments posted to the site. It was the exposure from this contest that led to the invitation for the apartment to be featured on HGTV.
The carts with their long-necked lamps just amuse me so much.
Love it. Very creative, loosens up the mind - great energy. Lots of conversation pieces, too. Love this: "Minimal furniture provides a respite from the busy-ness of the city."
This apartment is fascinating because I've never seen anything quite like it. I like the freaky little mechanical toys all over the place. The Nelson bed is beautiful - I think its one of the best beds out there. The tentacle style lamps are cool because they're a little disturbing. Angling the furniture to create a second grid within the outer grid is a great idea and creates a lot of visual interest (the floor plan looks like a Russian Constructivist poster). Thanks for a look at your thoughtfully put-together space!
I love the originality of this apartment, especially that tower of Metrocards.
One thing I love about this apartment is the contrast between the skewed line of the carts and the long straight photograph on the wall behind it - really drives home the angularity of the arrangement.
I love the creativity and courage it takes to live in a truly unique space.
The angling of the Flor tiles is a great way to create space within the space.
I like carts although I would never be brave enough to position them away from the wall like that. I like it - it works in some strange way.
I love it - it looks like an inspired space with all its quirkiness. You can tell that the person who lives here has an interesting character. Its far better than the typical apartment trying desperately to imitate the slick magazine photographs.
I think the warmth comes from the red rug, and I really like his determination to create a new set of rules and to follow them, and to think outside the box - or the grid.
Your place is great. I am currently living in a triangle and really struggling with a layout - your place has given me a lot of confidence to damn the walls and do what I want. I love the lamps/rolling carts and the whimsy of the Metrocard columns. It looks like fun.
Sly, ironic, and devious with more to it than first meets the eye. There's nothing safe here and much that's question-provoking and even vaguely unsettling - edges not often found in a living space. This is an elevator ride with William Burroughs.

Dates and Specs
March 2004 - June 2016: 12 years, 3 months
• Location: Battery Park City, Manhattan
• Square feet: 630 inside, 89 balcony
• Date of building construction: 1989
Buying the apt
Condo purchase: January 15, 2004
Closing: March 15, 2004
Moving in: March 14-21, 2004
• Sunday: Train from EWR to WTC, walked to Hilton Millennium, room with view of WTC hole, bought shaver, walked by apt.
• Monday: Bought toiletries, checked out of hotel; 1:00 walk-thru inspection of apt with broker. Closing at lawyer's office on John Street; Hilton: got luggage, walked to new apt; J&R: bought TV; Century 21: bought bedding and bathwares.
• Tuesday: Lite snow, Staples: bought office stuff. I had ordered about $20,000 of furniture from Design Within Reach. Enough that I could specify the date and time of delivery - furniture arrived at 3p, loaded crates into apt; Apple Store: bought speakers.
• Wensday: Union Square: ABC: bought Nelson bed, table, clock; hardware on 8th store; Crate & Barrel: dishes, flatware; SoHo hardware store; set up furniture.
• Thursday: Unpacked dishes; Bed Bath Beyond: housewares delivery; Conran: Vignelli set; prepped tables, delivery arrived, unpack, set up chairs, rug; Container Store: nite stand; Times Square: NYC mugs.
• Friday: Bed arrived. Continued to settle in.
• Saturday: Shot apt photos.
• Sunday: Packed; walked WTC, train to EWR, flite to OKC.
Interior renovation 1
• Demolition, wall prep, and painting: March 23-April 14 2004
• Initial art installations: April 17-20, 2004
• Flor carpet installation: October 21-22 & November 19-20, 2004; April 2006
HGTV filming 2006
• Contest submission: Febuary
• Contest posting: March16-25
• Email of interest: March 23
• Phone interview: March 28
• Set schedule: April 27
• Paperwork: May 3
• Filming: Thursday, May 18, 9a - 6p
• Airdates: October 8 and 19 (numerous reruns since)
Interior renovation 2
• Purge stuff: Summer-Fall 2009
• Interior rearrangement: January 2010
• Add television and Internet: April 2010
• Remove cable and Internet: July 2013
Renting the apt
• March 2004 - April 2016 - 12 years
• Guests: 85 groups; 158 people
Selling the apt 2016
• Decision to sell, To Do List, Where furniture will go: March
• Confirmation emails to bldg and broker: Wensday, March 23
Drive with dogs: April 16-25: Sign contract, remove art, clean, rearrange, pack clothes and kotchkes
• Apt walls patched and painted: week of April 25
• Apt listed and ready to show: May 4; Reshot listing photos: May 15
• 1st Offer made 510: May 20, Counteroffer 544: June; Buyer accepts counteroffer
Signed contract: June 8, Closing scheduled: July 15, Offer withdrawn: July
Fly to NYC: June 19-23: Purged & prepped; Groj Sale, Goodwill; removed kitchen & bath carpet
Moving company packed and emptied apt: Wensday June 22
Walked to Holiday Inn for the night: June 22
• Apt walls patched and painted: June 24-25
Moving company delivered furniture to OK: Wensday July 3
• 2nd Offer made: July 19, Counteroffer, 'as is': July 22, Buyer accepts: July 23, Offer withdrawn: July
• Address floor repair, Broker removed carpet tiles: August 27
• 3rd Offer made 520: Thursday September 15; Counteroffer, 'as is', 540; Buyer accepts counteroffer
Signed contract: September 26
Closing #1: November 1; Closing #2: November 18; Closing #3: December 8
Sent papers, keys to Attorney: Tuesday, December 6
• Received payment: Monday, December 12
• Purged emails/contacts, revised website: December 13
Costs
342,000  Purchase price, 2004
    5,000  Improvements (carpet, walls)
540,000  Sale price 2016
  57,000  Closing costs
136,000  Capital gains

Number of round-trips OKC-NYC
51  Flites, while in apt
12  Drives: Vegas: 4, Vegas & Manhattan: 3, Manhattan: 3, Manhattan & Brooklyn: 2
63  Total trips to the apartment (March 2004 - June 2016)

86  Total trips to NYC (63 + 1 drive + 18 pre-apt flites + 4 post-apt flites, as of July 2018)

A better laundry room sign
The condo in New York has a laundry room to service all the residents. It can sometimes get a bit busy, even though there are quite a few machines. Some rude people leave their clothes in the machine long after the cycle has completed. Maybe they got caught up in another task, maybe they just forgot they were doing laundry, or maybe they're just inconsiderate. Who knows. But it can be frustrating.
Once, upon entering the laundry room, I noticed a sign - great. Maybe it will encourage people to not leave their clothes in the machine. Nope. It said not to remove clothes from a machine. Poo.

The sign is a piece of graphic design - intended to communicate a specific message to a specific group of people to achieve a specific purpose. Therefore, like any piece of graphic design, it can be made better. Here's how:
• The concept of the message - people apparently were touching other's clothes when they had been left in the machine too long. This is a busy laundry room. Even though there are 10 washing machines and 8 dryers, there are times when people are waiting. It is just rude and inconsiderate to not promptly remove clothes. This sign, however doesn't address that, it says the opposite - leave those clothes alone.
• The tone of the message is too harsh and demanding. There is no explanation or respect shown to the reader.
• The signs are posted above each machine and the text is red. There is no need for the word 'Attention'. In all caps.
• The building has tight security - visitors have to check in with the concierge in the front lobby. There is no need for the sign to state, 'Residents of Cove Club Condo' (again, in all caps). Who else would be doing laundry but a resident or a resident's employee?
• 'from machines that do not belong to you' - I didn't realize these machines belonged to me. Heck, I'll just move one of my washers and one of my dryers up to my apartment and avoid this whole sign issue.
• Cheesy and unnecessary clip art.
• Poor line breaks. 'articles of clothing' is a phrase that should not be disrupted.

Graphic design should respect the intelligence and dignity of the user/reader/viewer - the audience. I rewrote and redesigned the sign to better communicate both messages and to do so in a more considerate manner. As a sign-off to increase credibility and familiarity, I included a logo for the Cove Club condominium that I designed for an earlier project. The building manager liked the new sign but asked for a version with a Spanish translation. Huh? In Spanish? Then I realized there were nannies and apartment caretakers from many countries. I took the sign copy to a Spanish teacher at OSU in Stillwater and had him translate the sign. I explored different layouts - English & Spanish stacked and side-by-side. I also changed the font to a bold sans serif to be more demonstrative and clear.
The new signs were posted in the laundry room in early March, 2010. To my surprise and delight - the signs were larger than what I submitted, 20" x 16", and mounted on a stiff backing.


A better arrangement of tables

Before
For over a year, I tolerated the arrangement of the folding table in the condo laundry room that formed a barrier between the washers (out of view in the foreground of the pictures above) and the dryers. I, like everyone else, just stepped around the awkward placement of the table.

After
In August, 2005, I moved the table to open up access to the dryers. Sometimes, when I rearrange furniture in someone else's place (like in the elevator lobby of this same building), it is put back when I see the room the next time. But this time, when I went back to do laundry a week later, not only was the table still where I moved it, but there was a man in a wheelchair who commented how much easier it was for him to now get to the dryers.

Of course, the table was moved back. Somebody, maybe one of the porters, didn't realize that it was a more efficient and convenient arrangement and just put it back the way he was conditioned to seeing it.
But, after the management accepted the new signs (above) I tried again and presented the suggestion to the condo board. They agreed and the tables were rearranged as recommended above. They have remained in the new configuration ever since.



Philosophy
"Welcome home" One's home is one's respite from the chaos of the city, from the busyness of work, and from a day of shopping, theater, and museums in the city. The common areas of Cove Club should encourage residents and visitors to slow down a bit, acknowledge they are home, and allow them to enjoy the aesthetics and environment of living in a quality luxury residential building.
Objectives/considerations
The renovations should provide a transition from city to home that:
• Conveys value, quality, luxury, pride of ownership
• Creates a sense of visual and physical comfort
• Is contemporary, uncluttered, minimal, abstract
• Provides ease of maintenance and upkeep
• Exploits the unique attribute of public art in BPC
• Positions Cove Club as exclusive, unique from other residence buildings in BPC
• Considers traffic flow in the placement of furniture and pedestals
• Enhances security and safety
• Increases value of ownership: attractive & appealing to prospective buyers/renters
Guiding principles/concepts
• Symmetry of interior rooms contrasting with the asymmetry of exterior layout and plan
• Upscale, upgrade, more sophisticated, more contemporary
• More calming and soothing - to offset the chaos of the busy wall indentions and molding frames
• More unified and consistent - less chaotic and hectic
• Lighter and more visually 'open' - less heavy, dark, and somber
• Straight geometric lines and forms to reflect and respect the architecture of the building and angles to reflect the unique angles formed by the balcony extensions and townhome bay windows
•Marine gallery: model ships, maps, and photographs. Inspired by the name Cove Club, the proximity to the South Cove and the Hudson River, the model ship currently in the hallway, and the commitment to public art in Battery Park City
• Carrots or focal points at end of galleries - like Disneyland putting an enticing treat for the eye at the end of each street
• Alignment to provide order and clarity
Concept theme
Upscale marine gallery: model ships, artifacts, maps, photographs. Inspired by: the name Cove Club, the proximity to the South Cove and the Hudson River, the model ship currently in the hallway, galleries in luxury homes, and the commitment to public art in Battery Park City

Common area zones
Primary
• South End entry "Welcome Home": comfortable, seating, inviting, security boundary, concierge desk, 2-story atrium
• Intersection: mail, carts, & townhomes; utilitarian, efficient
• Passages: gallery, aesthetic, minimal furnishings, planters in the skylit atrium; focal point of ship at end of main gallery (visible from front entry)
• Elevator lobby: unadorned, mirror wall, simple seating for occasional use
Secondary
• Battery Place entry (I avoid 'back' or 'rear entry' since those names are condescending and for many, the BP entry is not really secondary): upgrade with color, trash can?, framed art (area map or subway map to guide those heading into the city) to reflect the ambience of the other common area passages
Tertiary
• Fitness room & club room foyer, to enter the club room one must pass through the uncomfortable and too-bright fitness room - maybe a transition space (could just be wall color) containing the club room entry door and the rest of the fitness room
• Fitness room: just needs a better wall color
• Club room: okay for now. Eventually, it would be nice to upgrade it with brushed steel, more sophisticated palette of colors and materials, and matching furniture

Set of 3 plantersat the Battery Place entry, in the atrium gallery passage, and at the South End entry.
The planters at the BP entry help create a 'sense of entry' or 'sense of place' and announce that this is more than just a nondescript door in a block-long corridor of glass wall. The atrium gallery shouldn't need more seating and the atrium skylight is almost begging for plants and greenery. The plants could look good in front of the banana leaf artwork. The SE entry planters will enhance the blank wall on the north and respect the asymmetry of the entrance and the orientation towards the Statue and South Cove park.
There is no need for any other artwork in the passages other than the art in the atrium gallery, the model ship focal point, the large mirror and framed old map in the secondary passage.
1. Repair/replace carpet at edge of elevator lobby
2. Paint side walls at elevator doorways
3. Reaim lights to shine on ship model and plants
4. New wall sconces

The naberhood in New York City

Battery Park City is located at the tip of Manhattan stretching along the Hudson River from Battery Park northward. This part of the Hudson River is where large ocean liners and freighters used to dock. The condo building sits where the Munargo Line piers for the United Fruit Company once were. The Titanic was scheduled to tie up at one of the piers farther upriver. After new modes of shipping and air travel took over, the piers lay dormant.
A Master Plan for a new mixed-use development was introduced in 1979. It was named Battery Park City after the park at the tip of Manhattan and the southern edge of the development. Compromising 92 acres along 1.2 miles of Hudson River waterfront, the population in 2004 was over 20,000.

When the World Trade Center basement was being dug, that dirt was simply trucked across the street and dumped into the Hudson. Walls had already been built to hold in the dirt. The Hudson Esplanade or Promenade lies atop that wall. The land is owned by the City of New York and is leased to the Battery Park City Development Company until about 2065. The land was divided into block parcels with each being sold to a different developer. The first development was completed in 1982. The large World Financial Center was begun in 1981 and completed by the late 80s. Many of the east-facing facades were scarred by debris from the falling twin towers in 2001. The WinterGarden; an indoor gathering, shopping, concert, and gallery space; was destroyed and completely rebuilt. The inner courtyard contains sixteen 45 foot tall palm trees.

My building is about three buildings to the right of the white boat on the right.


The apartment building is at the white dot.

The apt shows up in ad photos. These are all from New York magazine, March 2015.

Aerial views











Legend to map letters

A Condo building
B Dog run for the dogs
C Hudson riverwalk
D South Cove park
E Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Skyscraper Museum. The hexagonal building is the Jewish Holocaust Museum
F West Street
G Former New York Athletic Club, home of the Heisman Trophy
H Entrance to tunnel under Battery Park
I Ventilation building for the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, also entry to the Men In Black HQ
J Entrance to the tunnel under bay to Brooklyn
K Broadway
L Bowling Green, oldest park in the country

Cove Club Condominium

The lobby hallway. Rendering of new furniture and wall color. Below: Game room and wifi/television.




Front and back of the condominium.

The back street, Cove Club is the third building from the left. World Financial Center is in the background. The plaza in front of the Jewish Holocaust Museum is named after Edmond somebody - fun to see OK home town in front of NY building.


Jim's balcony as seen from the roof deck.

Views from the balcony of Jim's apartment.



Views from the roof deck. Below: Thames Street in the snow. The Blizzard: January 2011










Immediate naberhood
The naberhood is very quiet (by New York City standards); the condo is on a cul-de-sac. There are only stop signs for the blocks around the condo. I refer to it as the suburbs - slower, quieter, greener, less stop lights. The streets are wide, clean, and well maintained with extensive landscaping throughout.




Marina at the World Financial Center.

A favorite restaurant at the WFC. Across the Hudson from the WFC is Jersey City. This is the really long escalator from the under-the-Hudson train to Jersey City.

This is a memorial to 9/11 in Jersey City.

One of the main reasons I bout a condo in Battery Park City is because of the Hudson Esplanade - a lavishly landscaped, meticulously maintained, and cleaned riverwalk along the Hudson perimeter of BPC. It is constantly and actively used by: strollers, bikers, joggers, dog walkers, sitters, contemplators, conversers, readers, photographers, boat watchers, fishers, dealmakers, phone talkers, and ponderers.


In this aerial view of lower Battery Park City, Battery Park is to the right and midtown is towards the upper left. The white dot is over my condo building. The rectangular indentation along the river wall is the South Cove. The hexagonal building is the Museum of Jewish Heritage.








South cove

There are over 20 public art projects in Battery Park City. One of those is South Cove, designed and built in 1988. Considered one of the country's most significant public artworks, it is a result of a unique collaboration between environmental artist Mary Miss, architect Stanton Eckstut (principal designer of the entire riverwalk), and landscape architect Susan Child. Including carefully sited rocks, natural plantings, atmospheric blue lights, water-racked pilings, and a large wooden jetty extending into the Hudson like a pier. The project provides a meditative respite from the city, an audio experience with the waves lapping or crashing onto the pilings and wooden structures. This park is right out the front door of the condo building.





Walking in the 'forest'. Buildings looking over the South Cove - my building is just out of the picture to the left.

An annual marathon swim around Manhattan Island. These are serious swimmers - it takes about 6 or 7 hours to go all the way around. Each swimmer is accompanied by a kayak and a motor boat. I had a long talk with the mother of the number-one ranked open water swimmer - that's her in the yellow cap.


Some other artwork along the riverwalk in Battery Park City. This sculpture is Rector Gate by R.M. Fischer. Built of steel, bronze, and granite, it rises 50 feet to form a gateway from the past to the future - part Gotham, part Metropolis. 1988.

The Upper Room by Ned Smyth, 1987. Dignified and playful, it is reminiscent of an Egyptian temple echoing the urban environment. Made of aggregate concrete with embedded colored glass, brass, and mosaic tiles.



Battery Park City
Located at the tip of Manhattan stretching along the Hudson River from Battery Park northward. This part of the Hudson River is where large ocean liners and freighters used to dock. The condo building sits where the Munargo Line piers for the United Fruit Company once were. The Titanic was scheduled to tie up at one of the piers farther upriver. After new modes of shipping and air travel took over, the piers lay dormant.

A Master Plan for a new mixed-use development was introduced in 1979. It was named Battery Park City after the park at the tip of Manhattan and the southern edge of the development. Compromising 92 acres along 1.2 miles of Hudson River waterfront, the population in 2004 was over 20,000.

When the World Trade Center basement was being dug, that dirt was simply trucked across the street and dumped into the Hudson. Walls had already been built to hold in the dirt. The Hudson Esplanade or Promenade lies atop that wall. The land is owned by the City of New York and is leased to the Battery Park City Development Company until about 2065. The land was divided into block parcels with each being sold to a different developer. The first development was completed in 1982. The large World Financial Center was begun in 1981 and completed by the late 80s. Many of the east-facing facades were scarred by debris from the falling twin towers in 2001. The WinterGarden; an indoor gathering, shopping, concert, and gallery space; was destroyed and completely rebuilt. The inner courtyard contains sixteen 45 foot tall palm trees.

Battery Park
Battery Park panorama On a Sunday afternoon, August 12 2012

Kids in the Fountain A splash fountain in Battery Park, New York City, Sunday afternoon, August 12 2012

South Cove along the Hudson River A panorama of the river from Jersey City to the South Cove, shot from the Hudson Esplanade in Battery Park City. August 2012

Hudson Esplanade Wrapping up the day watching the traffic along the Hudson Esplanade. June 2012










The clock on the Jersey shore. It is the largest clock in the world. Although, there are reports of a larger clock being built in Dubai. Below: the clock in it's original location on top of the plant and office building.


Superstorm Sandy at Jim's apartment
Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and the East Coast on Monday night and Tuesday, October 29-30, 2012.

Red dots: locations of the fotos below.
Blue dot: Jim's apartment building.
Green dots: where reporters stood to broadcast.

Location 1. Along the Hudson Esplanade. At the South Cove pier.

Location 2: West Street at the entrance to the Brooklyn tunnel. After the water subsided, the wall in the adjacent parking garage showed the high water level.


Locations 2 & 3. The approach to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, under the parking garage and emerging from the garage.


Above and left: Location 4. Right: Location 5. The tunnel that connects the West Side highway to FDR Drive.



The blackout. Battery Park City is the lit-up section in the lower left.

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