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Vandewater: The Design Is In the Details

By Matt Medved | February 24, 2021 | Lifestyle Home & Real Estate Feature

An intimate conversation with architect Adam Rolston and designer Jessica Gersten.


There’s a timeless quality to New York City that contributes to its enduring mystique. Millions traverse continents to experience the metropolis and some are even lucky enough to stay for a while. Truly fortunate are the ones who get to live at the intersection of the city’s rich history and forward-looking luxury.

Introducing Vandewater: a stunning new high-rise residential tower nestled in the vibrant neighborhood of Morningside Heights that has recently welcomed its first residents. Inspired by the surrounding neo-gothic architecture, the building offers a unique blend of the city’s classic grandeur with the comfort of three floors of modern amenities, including a dining room, terrace, private garden, an indoor pool and wellness center.

Modern Luxury sat down with architect Adam Rolston of INC Architecture & Design and interior designer Jessica Gersten for a deep-dive into the backstory of the luxury development and the design of its model residence. Check out the video of the full conversation below.

“Vandewater was always going to be connected to the architecture of the neighborhood,” says Rolston, who is creative director and managing partner of INC Architecture & Design. “For us, where it gets interesting is pushing that into the future, using that as an ingredient in creating a building that is decidedly of its time.”

Intellectual leaders have called Morningside Heights home for generations, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Allen Ginsburg, owing to its soulful charm and proximity to Columbia University. Surrounded by breathtaking views of the Hudson River and Central Park, Rolston and Gersten channeled this legacy while designing the model residences by telling the story of a hypothetical client as a starting point.

“I was imagining an intelligent, worldly couple to use it as a pied-à-terre or their children were at one of the universities,” recalls Gersten. “They know a bit about architecture and design and have curated tastes. To be able to invent this client was very fun, and it also needed to appeal to a broader base than just this couple.”


The Apparatus light fixture is an elegant centerpiece inside one of the Vandewater model residences.

This creative exercise manifested in a harmonious mix of contemporary design, industrial elements and mid-century references. Combining Old World materials like oxidized brass and brown marble with thoughtful modernist pieces like the Prouvé chair and Apparatus light fixture, the designers succeeded in striking an aesthetic balancing act.

“There’s an authenticity in the work that comes from almost an art historical approach,” says Rolston. “We really looked at history… incorporating it and pushing it forward in a new interpretation that’s very modern and connected to how we live now, in a soulful way.”


The Vandewater model residences offer stunning views of the charming Morningside Heights neighborhood.

At a moment when many are working remotely and spending more time than ever at home, Vandewater was designed to provide a level of comfort and community that has never felt more needed than now.

“There was a decision from the beginning to amenitize the building robustly so there really is a community here,” says Rolston. “It’s more than just an apartment, it’s a place to live, read, work and play.”

“Homes have never been as important as they are right now,” adds Gersten. “Nothing evokes emotion more than your home environment does.”

For more information, images and inquiries, please head to Vandewater’s website here.


Photography by: Courtesy of Vandewater