Franklin Report Report Card for pulltab in New York City
★ Franklin Report Card
10 East 23rd Street
No. 710
New York, NY 10010
(212) 727-9448
Interior Design

Services & Specialties
Warm modern architecture and design

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FR Review:
Pulltab is a full-service architectural firm with a warm, smart take on modernism–partners Jon Handley and Melissa Baker wield natural light, open space and harmonious proportion to create homes of graceful simplicity. What sets them apart from others of this ilk is an attention to detail and a playful intellectual spirit: many architects could create charming asymmetrical shelving for a client, not all would create charming asymmetrical shelving with a sly visual reference to the Cary Tamarkin building across the street. This heady approach is welded to a cheerful empathy for the client’s day-to-day needs–Handley and Baker are adept at grabbing space to make room for a bike or stashing a bulky juicer into an unlikely kitchen corner. These conveniences are often the result of sophisticated custom built-ins; pulltab employs tracks, rollers, recessed hinges and sliding panels to make space and light appear from–hey presto–behind walls. The end result has the nautical practicality of a well-designed yacht.

Handley and Baker both earned their M.Archs at Penn, going through the program at a time when philosophy and theory were paramount. Even now, with two decades of practical wood-and-steel experience under their belts, the pair retain an academic approach to their work–a conversation with them feels less like a business meeting and more like casual office hours with two of your favorite professors. Though they have distinct personalities (Handley is more playful, Baker more diplomatic), their taste and style meld harmoniously into a unified front. Clients say working with the pair is “a fun collaboration,” with a lot of friendly batting around of ideas, personal attention, and inventive problem solving.

Operating out of a Flatiron office, Handley and Baker run pulltab as a two-person show, generally taking on four or five projects at a time. Not one to snub small-scale work, their concern is more with quality than size (Handley: “we can work on a budget, but we don’t want to do things cheaply.”) Their fee, charged as a sliding percentage of overall construction costs, is in line with other architects at their level. Because pulltab’s work is aesthetically comprehensive, they often design the interiors of their projects, but can collaborate with a decorator if need be. Clients tend to reside south of 42nd street, but run the gamut from stylish bachelors to nesting families. All are effusive in their praise of this young firm on the rise. –Fred Nicolaus

Representative Client Comments:
“They were very very focused on the project. I got the sense that they ate drank slept and dreamed about my home.” “Jon was very good at big picture concepts, Melissa would really drill down on the details.” "As I walk through the apartment now, and I make my way from our bedroom past the boys' rooms and I take the little curve into the foyer open dining room and kitchen I feel and appreciate the shift from the private to the public that Melissa and Jon discussed from our very first meeting with them." “Very responsive - we were in constant communication about the project.” "They are soft spoken, but focused on serving the needs of their clients." “If you’re looking for ornate traditional, Jon and Melissa might not be quite right.” “The skylight they created for me is an engineering marvel.” “They asked me a lot about my life and how I’d use the space.” “Interviewing other architects, I got the sense I wasn’t a priority. With Jon and Melissa, it was clear their full attention was on me.”

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