DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
THE SKY’S THE LIMIT
Neal-James Stufano, the architect behind the most expensive home sold in New York City this year, shares how he crafts luxurious homes that are akin to works of art.
When architect Neal-James Stufano founded NJ Caine Architecture in 2010, he had lofty ambitions: to craft spectacular luxury homes for discerning individuals to elevate the everyday. In the ensuing years, this vision has been realized as imagined – think homes for the likes of A-list celebrities, as well as residences at the top of Billionaires’ Row.
“We want to create and elevate what’s possible and enrich the passion and potential of each individual who encounters our work,” explains Stufano. “Architecture is about creating art that people live in and enjoy.”
Recently, NJ Caine Architecture transformed two apartments on the 82nd floor of the Rafael Viñoly-designed 432 Park Avenue in New York City into a dramatic penthouse with sweeping views of Central Park. When it sold for $70.5 million in May, the 8,100-square-foot home became the most expensive residential property sold in the city since the start of the pandemic.
“The project literally took our team to new heights,” says Stufano. “The challenge was to compose a space that brought together the subtlety of daily life with the dramatic backdrop of the city.” With it’s grand windows as a starting point, the firm’s new flowing floor plan and rich materiality, exacting in it’s design, created a truly show-stopping scheme. As a result, the interior architectural design invites sky and city views into every corner to create an intimate experience of New York.
Connecting to the environment defines the work of NJ Caine Architecture, whether in New York, Palm Beach, Bel Air, Wyoming, the Hamptons, or the Bahamas. In each case, the built form is designed to complement the context through open views and elegant design.
A feature that characterizes Stufano’s portfolio is a collaboration with skilled artisans from around the world, from Italian metalworkers to some of the biggest names in the contemporary art and design world – including American sculptor Richard Serra and French interior designer Jacques Grange. “Art is a constant source of inspiration. Being surrounded by art speaks to me and influences my design,” says Stufano. “There’s nothing like witnessing top artists’ passion, drive, and precision. It pushes you to challenge yourself, which ultimately makes the finished product more successful.”
Given Stufano’s predilection for the fine arts, it’s not surprising to discover that he and wife, Justine McEnerney, own the J. Mackey Gallery in East Hampton. Through the gallery, Stufano has the opportunity to collaborate with artists such as celebrated Hamptons’ sculptor Phyllis Baker Hammond and painter Eliza Geddes, whose work has been incorporated into the collections of many of the practice’s illustrious clients.
As NJ Caine Architecture continues to evolve and grow, Stufano hopes to further incorporate the creative vitality of the arts into the architectural design process. “I want to find new ways to bring art and the passion that sparks new ideas to each endeavor,” he says. “We hope to design work that is aesthetically impactful, culturally influential, historically significant, and socially relevant for years to come. My hope is that it truly speaks for itself and provokes a lasting impression.”