Zach Helfand gives us a quick sketch of what happens when celebrities, and celebrity architects, collaborate on behalf of birds. When you next have the opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, keep this initiative in mind:
To benefit the Audubon Society, “For the Birds,” a COVID passion project, brings together ornithophiles and artist-designed birdhouses, including a 12BR Apt, A/C, No Elv, Vus.
The recent housing market has brought about ruinous price increases, a bidding war over a fifth-floor walkup studio with no oven, and enough of a civic exodus for the Post to declaim, earlier this month, “listen up, new york—florida sucks, and you’ll all be back in five years.” But that doesn’t mean deals can’t be had. Take a unit that just went on the market. It’s a newly built architect-designed twelve-bedroom in shall we say Crown Heights, with finishes by a master carpenter and three-hundred-and-sixty-degree views of Prospect Park. There are a few cons, including an absence of doors, which means the occasional no-goodnick snatching up your kids. It’s not a walkup, per se (no stairs), but there’s also no elevator; you’ll need alternative means of safe egress or else . . . splat. On the other hand: multiple porches.
“Hey, how much is the rent?” a kid passing by the place called out recently. The two landlords, Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, were nearby. Their answer: free.
“It’s a birdhouse for purple martins,” Alesch said. “Purple martins only live in birdhouses.”
“And it’ll hold a hundred of them!” Standefer said.
“That’s, like, a mansion!” another kid yelled.
Alesch, who had a goatee, and Standefer, in blazer and jeans, were at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, next to a little pond, where they were installing what they call the 100 Martin Inn. It’s a mega-birdhouse, made of cedar, that looks like a big signpost showing many destinations—twelve dwellings, eight or so birds each. “We rounded up,” Standefer explained.
The pair, who are married, met in Hollywood. Standefer, a designer, was working on a Scorsese film as a visual consultant. (“There’s a makeup-party scene in ‘Goodfellas,’ and it opens on a cardboard cutout of an Avon lady,” she said. “That’s me!”) Alesch was a burned-out architect looking for a change. They were production designers for “Zoolander,” and then they redesigned and expanded Ben Stiller’s house in the Hollywood Hills. These days, their architecture firm, Roman & Williams, does big, trendy projects—the Standard, the Ace, a wing of the Met—and private homes; they’re currently doing Gwyneth Paltrow’s Montecito house.
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