January 16, 2010

The apartment of: Donald Albrecht

Some New Yorkers long to live in spanking new apartment buildings outfitted with sleekly designed lobbies and basement health clubs. To many other New Yorkers, nothing is as desirable as a prewar apartment, with its artfully arranged rooms and walls so thick that some latter-day residents have trouble getting wi-fi service.

And it would be hard to find a more passionate admirer of this type of housing than Donald Albrecht, 58, the curator of architecture and design at the Museum of the City of New York, who also works as an independent curator. His aesthetic is evident the moment you walk through the front door. In the small foyer, you are greeted by what looks like trompe l’oeil, a closet that has been transformed into a Lilliputian library by means of a glass door. “It’s the oldest trick in the book,” Mr. Albrecht explained. “Taking a little bit of space and framing the opening to make the space seem bigger.”

Mounted on the wall to your left are a pair of red and gold modern Chinese doors, possibly from a cabinet, which were bought in Lambertville, N.J., at the antiques market where Mr. Albrecht found many of the pieces that give class and pizazz to his apartment. Off to the right, a galley kitchen leads into what was originally a dining nook.