Personal Thoughts

  • Cold-Water Swimming Is Not Just for Crazy Polar Bears

    Polar Bear Plunge - The Plunge Brrrr

    Racing into frigid Coney Island water New Years Day

    {3 minutes to read} Cold-water swimming boosts your immune system and provides stress reduction and resiliency by shocking your system. Many studies have found that cold water swimming not only de-stresses the body physically, but also mentally. It can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine — neurotransmitters that can help reduce depression. Many cold-water swimmers have been able to increase their life expectancy and their overall quality of life. The intense shocking of the system increases antibodies and puts your body on alert. It boosts your immune system by increasing your white blood cell count. It increases blood circulation. In a warm environment your veins are enlarged, or vasodilated, but when you hit the cold, your veins vasoconstrict. However, the same amount of blood flows through your more restricted veins, arteries and capillaries, forcing a clean out with the blood flowing through restricted openings. Therefore, it is a great cleanser to your circulation system.

    Polar Bear Plunge Mascot

     

    Given all these benefits, I decided to join the Polar Bear Club in Coney Island, the oldest cold-water swimming club in North America. What an invigorating way to start the year. People ask, “How do you get past the initial shock where every cell in your body is telling you to get out of this abnormal environment?” Once you stabilize your breathing, you reach a calmer state. But after 10 minutes you need to get the hell out of the water to prevent hypothermia. On colder days, I swim as fast as I can in order to stay warm. After 5 minutes in frigid waters, I come out of the swim feeling so alert. There’s just such clarity — almost like a new dimension.

     

    Polar Bear Plunge - Thermalism

    Thermalism at home

     

    A friend recently asked, “What if you’re not a Polar Bear? Is there a way to reproduce the health benefits?” You can easily implement this “thermalism” at home to achieve a similar effect. Take a warm shower, then turn the dial over to the extreme cold and stay there for 15 seconds. Repeat this cycle three times, staying under the cold water for as long as you can, increasing the time under the cold water with each cycle.
    What are you waiting for? The Polar Bear Club meets every Sunday at 1pm during the cold months, so come join us! Or practice “thermalism” at home.

     

     

    Robert Henry
    roberthenry@rdh-architects.com
    www.rdh-architects.com
    212.533.4145

  • Lifestyle by Design

    {3:48 minutes to read} Have you ever met someone whose design dialogue + brainstorming gets you both so excited that you welcome every opportunity just to get together and share that dynamic energy?
    Barbra Littman in study

     

     

    Our collaboration with Barbara Littman—a true design diva—and our team produced some of our best work.

     

     

    Recently, Barbara Littman passed away, but her enduring passion for design and how she integrated design—including fashion, interiors and architecture—into her daily life remains an inspiration.

     

    I met Barbara after she decided to formally pursue architecture. She already had a degree in interior design, yet yearned for more. She had the tenacity and brilliance to pursue an architectural degree at that point in her life (dare I say 50 years old).Barbara Littman - Residence Upon her graduation, I had a chance to really get to know her; I invited her to assist me while teaching an overseas program in Venice. Barb put forth a riveting presentation on Carlo Scarpa’s Olivetti showroom located in St. Mark’s Square, an architect that she had admired. The students were jazzed!

     

    She later approached me, during the height of the financial meltdown, to work with her on an apartmenta penthouse that she and her husband, Lenny, bought in New York City. At that point, she was a grandmother and felt she earned the right to design a ‘dream space’ in the sky and chase her muse.Littman Louise Nevelson She wanted to surround herself with everything that she collected and loved about design. She had furniture by Ron Arad, Ettore Sottsass, and Michele De Lucchi, and artwork by our favorite artist, Louise Nevelson.

     

    We began to collaborate on the interior design; her only requirement was to make it reductive and modern. We came up with a spatial design that celebrated the reason theyLittman Living Area purchased this particular apartment: the bright light and city views. I suggested a fashion runway that took you from the front door, up a stairway, bringing you to the rooftop sculpture garden. It was a simple axial procession of entry-path-goal.

     

    Barbara’s personal design aesthetic is restricted to black and white, with an occasional shade of gray. Littman EntrywayThis prescriptive pallette encompassed everything she pursued: Fashion + ID + Architecture.
     
    I encouraged her to bring a little color into her life! So we chose an accent wall that divided the private from public space; the circulation armature that led you to the upstairs rooftop garden. I suggested an acid yellow. “Are you insane?” was her reply. After she left the site that evening, I had the painter hit it with a brilliant Van Gogh yellow. The next morning I got a phone call: “You jerk, I love it!” Later in her New York Times interview, she described the color as a really unexpected pleasure, introducing a strong statement that was both powerful and yet calming.

     

    For her, it was a “lifestyle by design.” She remains an inspiration to her students, colleagues, and collaborators, and continues to inspire all of us to chase our muse!
     

     

     

    Robert Henry
    roberthenry@rdh-architects.com
    www.rdh-architects.com
    212.533.4145

  • 4 Reasons Design Matters

    Sale of this apartment garnered the highest price per square foot in the building.

    Sale of this apartment garnered the highest price per square foot in the building.

    Whether you are contemplating  a renovation to your personal residence, your business, or hospitality venue – hotel, restaurant, spa – it’s very important to hire an architect and an interior designer with experience in that area. (more…)

  • Health = Wealth

    Robert D. Henry, http://rdh-architects.com, discusses the importance of well-being influences in the home.Our last blog, Healthy Home Part 1,  we talked about the healthy renovations a City apartment dweller has made to her home.  This attention to personal health and well being has also made it to the suburbs, as Part II demonstrates.

     

    Healthy Home – Part II

     

    A young couple who have two children recently approached us to design a new house for their family in Rumson, New Jersey.  It is a beautiful estate property that offers views to the Navesink River with a full dock, episodic gardens, and terraced pools. They want to create a place for entertaining friends, family and business clients.

    We designed the lower level to be a dedicated entertainment and relaxation space with a  comprehensive spa, fitness, and wellness enclave, with walk out “social garden space” with a 10’h green wall and a 20’ long fire place.  The design also contains a grand relaxation room,  wine tasting room and home theater, complimented with a fitness room and nurturing couples massage room.

     

    We designed a pool that combines several features:

     

    – A lap pool

    – A waterfall Jacuzzi for 6 integrated within the pool

    – A water aerobics space with aqua-bike and resistance equipment

    – A deluge experiential shower that massages and invigorates sore muscles

     

    From the lounge and pool areas, you can visit the outdoor garden area where a dynamic green wall and stairs guide back to the upper level gardens connecting to the rest of the property. The pool, lounge and even the fitness room, focus out to this green wall and light filled outdoor space.  This sunken garden brings light down into the lower level spaces and provides a calming view of nature.

     

    We are finding that people are becoming more invested in their sense of personal health and well being.  They are taking proactive measures by asking us to design their home and integrating wellness into their lives for them and generations to come.

     

    Robert Henry

    roberthenry@rdh-architects.com
    www.rdh-architects.com
    212.533.4145

  • The Growing Investment in Personal Health and Well Being

    We are finding that we are getting a lot of response from residential clients who have visited our spas, hotels and resorts and have had such a memorable experience that they’re asking us to design a spa inspired home for them. They are investing in their personal sustainability by integrating wellness into their own daily lives and creating home sanctuaries.

     

    Healthy Home – Part I

    Robert Henry, http://rdh-architects.com/, discusses the increase of health and wellness in architecture.

     

    We recently completed a home spa on the upper West Side of Manhattan for a client interested in creating a master bedroom suite in a healthy, nurturing environment.  Since she has asthma and allergies, we designed a 5’x 5’ experiential shower and steam room with a bench where she could sit and relax while inhaling curative steam. An experiential shower allows her to control multiple water jets from a rainwater shower head at the ceiling, and body sprays along each side.

     

    Robert Henry, http://rdh-architects.com/, discusses the increase of health and wellness in architecture.

     

    She also loves taking baths, so we integrated a steeping tub within the plan that allows her to soak up to her shoulders in water infused with restorative minerals and sea salts. She can recline and relax aching muscles within that deeper tub or pep up the water with invigorating eucalyptus or pine infusions. This bathing area opens up to the master bedroom with wrap around views to the city beyond.

     

     

    Robert Henry, http://rdh-architects.com/, discusses the increase of health and wellness in architecture.

    As part of her master bedroom, we incorporated a very large library and reading area connecting to an outdoor deck and terrace. We surrounded her with what she loves- books and art that nurture her mind and soul. We have motorized shades and sheers that provide a complete blackout to ensure a good night’s sleep. About one in three New Yorkers have sleep issues so, we carefully orchestrated her bedroom to provide the utmost in sleep hygiene eliminating even small LED “on” lights, even alarm clock lighting was diffused ensuring a higher quality of life.

     

    In our next blog, we will discuss another design project that emphasizes the benefits of integrating health and wellness elements into a home.

     

    Are you incorporating elements in your home to increase your health and wellness?

     

    Robert Henry
    roberthenry@rdh-architects.com
    www.rdh-architects.com
    212.533.4145