Manhattan Has The World’s Tallest Home Wall
Architect Adam Kushner has just finished his latest project. This multi-million dollar townhouse features what might be the world's tallest home wall
While this last year has seen a number of unprecedented climbing innovations, one architect has taken the home wall to new heights. At 83-feet, Adam Kushner’s polycarbonate design might be the world’s tallest home wall.
Although home walls have come to describe the climber locked at home, few feature the almost unbelievable details that describe the central pillar of 16 Minetta Lane. Instead of plywood and tarps, climbers at the Kushner residence cover their wall with a retractable roof. After the first 40 feet, the climber finds themselves breaking above the Greenwich Village skyline.
The following 43 feet expose views of 6th Avenue and the Empire State building. Though massive in size, the transparent polycarbonate panels and the low-profile design refuse to detract from the beautiful space. Tucked between the front and back houses, each dating to 1925 and 1928 respectively, the pre-depression townhouse manages to incorporate modern design seamlessly into its construction.
While this project does represents Kushner’s greatest innovation, the architect has worked in the industry for decades. “I knew I was going to be an architect since I was a kid,” Kushner reflected. “My dad was an engineer that worked on the apollo project, so I think my die was cast as early as ‘67.”
Along the way, Kushner would find himself wanting to leave the world better than he found it. In building, Kushner found a way to do the things that no one else could. He created unique solutions for his clients. Though Kushner’s knack for problem solving may have originated in a number of places, a person wonders whether his time climbing in the Gunks had anything to do with his unrepeatable approach.
While Kushner described himself as an average climber, the sport was unique in 1984. “I was never a good climber, but it was such an antidote to living in New York. when I would get in the car with my buddy at 4:00 in the morning, we would leave Manhattan, hit the Dunkin Donuts by 7:00, and be at the wall by 8:30.”
Though Kushner said that he only ever led 5.6 and followed 5.8, climbing stuck with him. Before attempting the Minetta Project, Kushner reinstalled the Lincoln Center’s old X-Games wall in Manhattan as one of his earlier architectural projects.
Although his professional career would take him from project to project, many of which would not involve climbing or its walls, the idea for his Minetta Lane persisted. Finally, in 2011, Kushner moved on the property and began his eight-year journey.
The property was perfect. “I kept the original bones of the building and… was left with this 8-foot-wide courtyard.” Reflecting on past desires, Kushner realized that the wall would not take up much space and saw an opportunity to turn his kids onto one of his earliest passions.
Today, Kushner’s son is passing him on the climbing wall. “He is way better than I am, even after only doing it for a year-and-a-half, he is better than I ever was. I am just excited that I got to do something that encourages him to find the love for a sport that I loved.”
As chief-routesetter of the wall, his son has learned to tape and build routes up to 5.11. While Kushner struggles to keep pace, the project has afforded him the opportunity to pioneer functional home design in the US’s largest city.
Although the wall makes only one aspect of Kushner’s creation, he noted that the experience of climbing on it is “surreal.” The transparent panelling added an additional dimension, while the views made for unprecedented community interaction.
Kusher laughed has he explained the feeling. “It is a strange thing. Even when we are just doing normal maintenance, we are clipped in with the Empire State Building in our direct view. The city park is right across from us. We certainly draw a crowd.”