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TriBeCa Loft Dwellers Offer a Peek of Their Homes for Annual Fundraiser

By Julie Shapiro | October 11, 2010 6:35am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

TRIBECA — A handful of downtown residents will open the doors of their sprawling, high-ceilinged apartments to the public next weekend as part of the annual Inside Tribeca Loft Tour.

The Oct. 17 tour, a fundraiser for the Friends of Duane Park, gives ticketholders the chance to see 10 lofts ranging from immaculate dwellings filled with art to raw spaces with the original brick and wooden beams exposed.

"So many people in New York are curious about how other people live," said Jennifer McAllister-Nevins, president of the Friends of Duane Park. "We show designer lofts, artist lofts, live-work spaces — the full range."

This is the 11th year of the tour, and the lofts change every year, drawing people from around the city and as far away as California. The Friends of Duane Park offer 400 tickets and always either sell out or come close.

Linda Pollak and Sandro Marpillero's loft includes the original wood planks and brick walls.
Linda Pollak and Sandro Marpillero's loft includes the original wood planks and brick walls.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

"It started just as a community fundraiser for the park, but it’s become an event in its own right," McAllister-Nevins said.

One of the most vibrant lofts on display this year belongs to Sherri Donghia and Roger Eulau.

The airy three-bedroom on Duane Street is draped in rich fabrics Donghia designed and collected when she was executive vice president of the Donghia interior design firm. From the soft chenille embracing the sofa to the fiery folds of antique Indian cloth that lie nearby, the space is bursting with texture and color.

Large floor-to-ceiling windows give the eighth-floor loft plenty of light, and Venetian glass lamps Donghia designed add a soft glow. Paintings and collages from Donghia’s friend Richard Giglio line the walls.

"It’s kind of my laboratory," Donghia said as she gave a tour recently. "It always has been."

Just down the street from Donghia and Eulau’s home is a 3,600-square-foot loft belonging to architects Sandro Marpillero and Linda Pollak that could hardly be more different.

The two-story space, made cozy with nooks and a mezzanine, doubles as the couple’s apartment and as an office for their architecture firm. The loft feels natural and earthy, with wood floors, brick walls and tall dividers made entirely from rows of books.

The apartment features many repurposed materials, including a balcony made out of a subway grate and display cases from the former Basset’s restaurant in TriBeCa, which closed in 2001.

The biggest challenge in designing the space, Pollak said, was bringing sunlight all the way into the rear reaches of the loft. To reflect the sky down into her living room, Pollak carved enormous back windows, including a single pane that rises 26 feet, and she placed angled mirrors in the small courtyard.

Other lofts on the tour include a family apartment with a secret passageway and a lush vegetable garden on the roof, and the home and studio of painter Marthe Keller, whose work has been shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMa.

The proceeds from the tour will help maintain Duane Park, the second oldest public park in the city. The small triangular slip of greenery and benches was first dedicated as parkland in 1797.

The Friends of Duane Park is selling tickets to the Inside Tribeca Loft Tour for $50 in advance or $55 at Duane Park on Oct. 17, the day of the tour. The tour will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.