David : Owner : Remsen Street

My wife and I retained MaryEllen Kowalewski, while employed at Baxt Ingui Architects, to supervise the renovation of our 1870’s five story brownstone residence in Brooklyn Heights, New York. The project was a complex one because it involved extensive renovation, as well as restoration of the existing American walnut millwork. Under MaryEllen’s guidance and pursuant to the plans she drew up, we restored all the original detail, including the fireplaces and mantels, while at the same time, completely upgrading the HVAC systems, adding central air conditioning and five new bathrooms, as well as a modern eat in kitchen with French doors opening into the backyard.

Throughout the project, MaryEllen was professional, creative and extremely attentive to detail. The plans she designed were comprehensive and accurate, maximizing space utilization, while at the same, retaining the original details of the townhouse. She anticipated most of the problems we would encounter and for those that she didn’t anticipate, she devised elegant solutions. Her design sense was unerring. Her aesthetic sensibilities are of a very high order. We had very few change orders and MaryEllen made sure that the project stayed on budget and on time. She coordinated all

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aspects of the project with various contractors and kept us all pulling together until the job was completed.

We recommend MaryEllen without reservation. She is an excellent architect with an unusually high level of aesthetic and technical abilities. Should we consider another project, MaryEllen is the first person we will call.

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© Baxt Ingui Architects
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Lafayette : Contractor : Carriage House : Hicks Street : Strong Place

This is a short letter of recommendation for MaryEllen Kowalewski. While she was employed at Baxt Ingui Architects here in the city we had the pleasure of working with Ms. Kowalewski for about three years over several projects. She is always collegial, competent, and pleasant to deal with. She is willing to accept suggestions for the improvement of the job. She is knowledgeable about design and the realities of construction. We were always able to find good solutions to problems that arose with her active participation. Her ability to clarify for the client’s the means and methods of contraction enabled all to understand the scope of the contracts, what upcharges were and why they were valid. She was responsive to requests for specifications and details when needed. Working with MaryEllen as the Project Managing Architect was a truly enjoyable experience.

© Baxt Ingui Architects
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Elizabeth : Owner : Hicks Street

MaryEllen Kowalewski was the architect, while employed at Baxt Ingui Architects, with whom I worked on a substantial renovation of my duplex cooperative apartment in Brooklyn Heights six years ago. The building was built in 1914 and my apartment still had the original fine moldings and herringbone floors. The challenge for MaryEllen was to preserve the beautiful bones – as well as the moldings and the floors – of the space while updating it with central air, a modern kitchen and bath and removing some of the awkward additions that compromised the fine dimensions of some of the rooms. One of the greatest challenges was to find space to hide two sizeable air conditioning units and the ducts. She was able to figure out a very clever way to drop two ceilings, which required replicating the molding for one ceiling, and hiding the other in the very beautiful new bathroom she designed. MaryEllen’s competence as an architect was so complete that I am not really sure exactly how she did this. I do know that I am the only resident in this building who has not had a problem with air conditioning.

Her kitchen and bathroom designs were, and continue to be, delightful. Her innovative use of frosted glass added light and modern

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elements to the apartment. Her attention to detail was most impressive. She was as invested as I was in finding the perfect shades of white (we looked at dozens) but I really understood what was special about MaryEllen when she called me excitedly from a Banana Republic where she noticed grills over air vents that were the perfect transition between old and new – and then tracked the vendor down. MaryEllen also showed remarkable flexibility when the original kitchen designer didn’t work out. She and the contractor worked together to build a new kitchen on schedule. In short, MaryEllen is an excellent architect and a pleasure to work with.

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© Baxt Ingui Architects
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Alex : Owner : East 69th Street

MaryEllen was the lead architect, while employed at Baxt Ingui Architects, of a significant and complex renovation that we undertook in 2002. The renovation involved connecting and reconfiguring two apartments in a Manhattan co-op that were across the hall from each other.

A renovation in a New York co-op is complex, requiring many different approvals and complex paperwork. The project involved harmonizing the existing apartment, the acquired apartment and the hallway. For New York, this was a monumental and complex project.

As the lead on this renovation, MaryEllen tackled this complex problem with complete poise, extreme focus, and great ideas. There is no question in my mind that the project was completed successfully largely because of her diligence and focus.

And, all of this does not take into account the most important contribution from MaryEllen: Her design. She managed to take three distinct spaces and unify them into one that felt consistent and seamless. We only renovated the “additional spaces” and so she had the requirement to make them fit with the existing apartment, which she did brilliantly. The centerpiece was a new eat-in kitchen. She

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designed everything from the layout to the cabinetry. The result was a 4000 square foot apartment that was customized to our needs and designed to our tastes.

Her attention to our project was consistent and exemplary. I recommend her highly for any project of any size. Ten years later, we still live in the apartment with the same design that MaryEllen created.

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© Baxt Ingui Architects
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Laing : Owner : Carriage House

MaryEllen was the lead architect, while employed at Baxt Ingui Architects, for our carriage house renovation in Brooklyn Heights, NY almost ten years ago. It was one of a row of four houses originally built as stables. In the 1950’s it was renovated to accommodate a six-car parking garage on the main floor and a studio apartment and two-bedroom duplex apartment on the second floor. We hired MaryEllen to convert the house to a single-family residence. In doing so, she had to file for a variance because the conversion of the garage space to occupiable living space was over the allowable FAR. This complete gut renovation converted the house to 2,900 square feet of living space. The main floor of the house had the private living area in the back, while maintaining a single car garage in the front. The second floor was the public area of the house with two bedrooms located in the back. The roofline was extended to create a double-height space within the center of the house. This allowed for an office/guest room on the third floor that overlooked this space on one side with access to a roof deck on the other side.

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The main focal point of the house is the stair which connects the private and public areas, while also acting as a sculptural design element.The renovation was very involved and complex for many reasons. The variance delayed the project for some time with a lot of going back and forth between the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Building Department. MaryEllen was very adept in seeing us through this hurdle in the beginning of the project. Because the house was a gut renovation it allowed her a lot of creative freedom in the design. She was able to customize everything and detail it according to our needs. Spaces were designed to operate with more than one function, such as creating a sliding door that would separate the upstairs bedrooms from the public area of the house and in creating a small office that could be closed off of the master bedroom as needed. She worked flawlessly with the contractor, his subcontractors, the kitchen designer and our interior designer to make sure all of our needs were met throughout the entire project. If a problem came up she worked hard to find a solution that would please everyone. Her

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creativity and strong technical abilities shown forth most in the stairway she designed. It truly did become the focal point of our house.

We would highly recommend MaryEllen as an architect. Throughout the project she was professional and competent, but also a great pleasure to work with too.

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© Peter Peirce
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Judy : Owner : Powder Room

MaryEllen was very efficient as well as very creative in finding solutions to the situations presented to her in this small powder room. She showed a great deal of intuitive response in dealing with the cost of all options and presented many options for my consideration. Her patience and help in dealing with my slowness to make decisions was beyond the call and was very much appreciated. She was very easy to work with.

© D76 Studios
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Remodeling and Home Design