Living / Insights

Architect Talk: Gal Nauer

Gal Nauer of Gal Nauer Architects talks about the business of buildings.

April 11, 2011

Gal Nauer

Hectic schedules and city living can take a toll on any person’s health and well-being. But what if that could all be erased—or at least alleviated—with living spaces designed to your every need? Gal Nauer, chief designer and president of Gal Nauer Architects (GNA), has embraced what she calls a “fantastic urban development,” where modern day living caters to a resident’s lifestyle. From contemporary, luxury residences in Tribeca to boutique hotels in Europe, GNA is on a mission to create villas in the sky that weave the grandeur of the past with the ideas of the future. We sat down with Nauer to chat about her craft. 

What is your architectural philosophy when it comes to designing a contemporary building or renovating a landmark property?
GAL NAUER: I like to look at a project in its totality, at both its exterior and interior design. We view our product as one continuous experience. Conversion projects are my favorite because they have a history and a special story, but we are building a new life into that old regime. It’s a unique experience tying all the pieces together.

Was The Plaza renovation one of these unique experiences?
GN: The Plaza renovation was unlike any other project. It was full of surprises. And it was like a history class. It was really fascinating because of all the hidden corridors and sub-cellars. We were shown the railroad tracks in the sub-cellar that dated back to the original Plaza in 1907. We wanted to bring back the grandness and beauty that is in its bones, but we had to peel back layers to bring back the authenticity.

What are some of GNA’s recent developments?
GN: Nowadays people want to live in a building where white-glove service can translate into their everyday lifestyle. At 250 West Street in Tribeca, which used to be a warehouse, we have 110 residences that are family oriented with open terraces, a pool, gym, roof terrace with barbecue area and other life and wellness amenities. Many people bring work home with them, but they do not want to work in their bedrooms. For this reason we dedicated space to business centers in many of our new residences and hotels. In Tel Aviv we’ve developed Bavli, a family oriented neighborhood of six high-rise residential buildings with canopy rooftops situated next to the “central park,” Hayarkon Park, of Tel Aviv. With bike path access to the Mediterranean as well as the main commercial strips, this green development is about connecting real people to the earth and providing them with access to all their surroundings instead of being an overly “techy” skyscraper.

What are other popular demands for modern day living?
GN: Developers’ lists are growing richer for hotels featuring business centers, cigar lounges, club floors and rooftop pools and terraces which serve as a whole entertainment area. They want to create a complete lifestyle experience in one building.

—Michaela Manning


Light a Candle

Try these selections from the Jo Malone candle collection.

April 08, 2011

Designed to enhance a space both visually and aromatically, Jo Malone’s David Hicks candle collection reinterprets three of the late British interior designer’s classic patterns. Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave., 212-753-4000;



A Beautiful Bookcase

The Elena bookcase can be anything you want it to be.

April 01, 2011

Show off all of your favorite art, books and knickknacks in Marston and Langinger’s Elena bookcase ($5,710). Customize the piece by choosing from six sizes and 70 paint colors.


Lovely Linens

Indulge in a set of embroidered linens.

March 18, 2011

Julia B.’s vintage-inspired linens are classically beautiful. We’re crazy about the Nantes collection (PICTURED) and Julia B.’s adorable embroidery. 203-329-8248


A Chic Scooter

Vespa introduces new colors into its fleet.

March 04, 2011

Euro-chic New Yorkers will love Vespa’s new colors like espresso and sky blue, as well as two-tone scooters in bronze and espresso or blue and white. Enjoy your own Roman Holiday with a jaunt to Vespa Restaurant for some yummy Italian fare. 1625 Second Ave., 212-472-2050;


New York Daytrip: Ziplining Tours

Soar through the Catskills on the longest, highest zipline in North America.

March 02, 2011

Looking to escape the city this spring? New York Zipline Adventure Tours are now operating out of Hunter Mountain Skiway, just two hours away from the city in the dazzling vistas of the Catskills. The trail boasts the longest and highest zipline canopy tour in North America—no small feat for a New York mountain range—with over 4.6 miles of ziplines, the longest of which runs 3200 feet long and 600 feet high.

The tour is an appropriate thrill for both the veteran jumper and the novice. Guides precede the tour with a mini “jump school” teaching proper soaring technique and body style at the summit lodge. The professionally trained staff, which includes a former Marine, snowboarder and rock climber, exudes a knowledgeable professionalism (and much-appreciated sense of humor) that encourages instant confidence. “When a person comes in and says, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’ and then is high-fiving and hugging me by the end—that’s the best part of my job” said tour guide Chris.

Standout features of the new zipline tour include a two-hour Sky Rider zipline, where you can soar side-by-side with a friend, and an innovative trolley suspension harness with handlebars that allow the rider to control the direction they are facing. “The way we zipline here is cool because of our harnesses. We have metal trolleys with handles that run on the line. It feels more free, but also gives a sense of control and security to the rider,” explained tour guide Frank.

With three year-round courses to choose from, zipline tours make for a novel first date idea, an ideal gift for thrill seeking friends and an unforgettable bonding activity. Still having doubts? “Just dig deep and get the courage to do it,” recommended tour guide Matt. “It’s worth it.”

—Rachel Kingman


Weekend Escape: Los Angeles

As winter's grip continues, think about a West Coast weekend.

February 24, 2011

FROM LEFT: The Luxury Collection SLS Hotel; The Bazaar by José Andrés restaurant

It’s that time of year again! We’re in the midst of an extremely snowy and seemingly never-ending winter—the kind that makes you stir crazy. It’s cold, we’re pale, and everyone is tired of it all. So now is the perfect time to plan a mid-winter escape. If you’re not one of the lucky few scoring a stay at one of the new three-bedroom Flamands Villas at the Hotel St. Barth Isle de France designed by London’s Penny Morrison, don’t fret. Book your tickets and jet west for a warm weekend escape to Los Angeles. Here are some of my favorites spots.

Stay at the Phillipe Starck-designed Luxury Collection SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills where you can sleep, eat, and pamper yourself without even leaving the hotel.

The SLS is also home to Ciel Spa, a full-service 5,000-square-foot space that will soon include a Sally Hershberger Style Studio—the perfect place to get you ready for a big night on the town.

Make sure to eat at least one meal at The Bazaar by José Andrés, where you’ll be able to sample both modern and traditional Tapas dishes like watermelon tomato skewers with a Pedro Ximénez (sherry) reduction, king crab steamed buns with pickled cucumbers, and Philly cheesesteak tapas (one of the most popular items). If the food is as good as the food at Le Cabrera, a gastro-cocktail bar in Madrid also helmed by an El Bulli veteran chef, you’ll be dreaming about it afterwards. If you time your trip right, you might also be able to check out Top Chef winner (and former executive chef of The Bazaar by José Andrés) Michael Voltaggio’s new restaurant, Ink.—slated to open later this month on Melrose in West Hollywood.

Before you head home, don’t forget to stock up on key items for your new Spring/Summer 2011 wardrobe at my friend Hillary Rush’s West Hollywood shop Hillary Rush, where you can find everything from the newest J Brand jeans (every new style, color and fit) to St. Tropez’s K.Jacques sandals (she had them way before J.Crew did). If you can’t make it to LA, you can also shop “the goods” on her website.

—leyla marchetto


Good Cause: One Frickin Day

Model Elettra Wiedemann's One Frickin Day helps change the world.

February 18, 2011


  Elettra Wiedemann

Some people are more talk than action when it comes to supporting a cause. Model and activist Elettra Wiedemann isn’t one of them. In 2008, she and now-fiancé James Marshall launched the website to raise funds for a solar electric-generation system for a clinic in Burundi. The project was so successful, she and her colleagues registered as a 501(c)3 and rebranded as One Frickin Day. Its latest goal is to fund solar-power installations for clinics in Rwanda and Haiti. “I never knew how much work was involved in putting together a board, launching a site,” she says. “I wake up and there are 70 e-mails in my inbox.”

Wiedemann also leverages her catwalk connections to support her charity. She, Marshall and stylist Nick Steele created last fall’s Model Behavior event, where top models donate a designer dress for an online auction to benefit the clinics in Rwanda and Haiti. All it takes is one frickin’ day—or dress—to make a world of difference.

—jenny sherman


Sleeping Well on a Savoir Bed

Give it a rest at Soho's Savoir Beds.

February 07, 2011

The Savoir No. 1 Bed

If you’re one of the 60 million Americans suffering from a stress-related sleep disorder—or if you’re simply looking for the ultimate sleep experience—Savoir Beds is a savior. Located in the heart of Soho, Savoir allows its visitors to test-drive each bed (with espresso or prosecco served). But what really sets the beds apart is that each one is handmade to suit the recipient’s individual needs. “It’s the ultimate luxury in terms of being able to achieve the exact look and level of comfort you want,” says US creative director Roger Ericson. More good news: Made with natural materials like wool, cotton, and horse hair, the beds are also free of the toxins and allergens that are usually found in traditional mattresses. Savoir Beds, 28 Wooster St., 212-226-3640

—Anna Ben Yehuda


Best In Show

The new kids' book by Karen Lefrak goes to the (champion) dogs.

January 21, 2011

In a city of canophiles, it’s a difficult task to claim the title of Greatest Lover of Poodles. But if anyone can, it’s Karen LeFrak. So when the winning dog breeder set out to write her third children’s book, Best In Show (Walker & Co.; $16.99), she made the most of her vast knowledge of the fluffy creatures. “They say it’s best to write about things you know,” she says. “I’ve been breeding and showing dogs for about 20 years, so I thought, Gee, what a great thing to teach children about—sportsmanship, camaraderie, competition… and standard poodles.”

The book, illustrated by Andrew Day, focuses on a youngster named Abby, who believes one of her poodle’s
puppies, Gem, is destined to win the top title at the Westminster Dog Show. Readers will see her overcome obstacles on her way to the big finish. Was any part of the story based on LeFrak’s real-life experiences?
“Absopoodley!” The Corner Bookstore, 1313 Madison Ave., 212-831-3554;

—meghan blalock

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