Participants are asked to examine the existing conditions of the apartment, to modify the floor plan if desired, and to create an interior design scheme that responds to the particular site conditions; the dramatic architectural setting; the required functions of the apartment for living, entertaining, and working; and the individual tastes of the clients. Schemes should be all-encompassing, including furniture; finishes; artwork; lighting fixtures; and flooring, window, and wall treatments. Participants are asked to examine the existing conditions of the apartment, to modify the floor plan if desired (with the exception of obvious load-bearing walls and columns, fireplaces, and the exterior windows which are to remain). Small rooms (such as the maids’ quarters) may be combined to form new larger rooms as needed. Participates should endeavor to create an interior design schema that responds to the particular site conditions; the dramatic architectural setting; the required functions of the apartment for living, entertaining, and working; the individual tastes of the clients, and respect (but not necessarily adhere to) the architectural style (Art Deco) of the building. Schemes should be all-encompassing, including furniture; millwork/cabinetry; finishes; artwork; lighting fixtures; and flooring, window, and wall treatments.


The clients for the project are the recently hired curator (Margaret Windsor) for the New United Nations Art Museum, and her partner (Sienna Jarvis), an orthopedic surgeon. They are in their mid-forties and have two twin sons Jean and Andrew, age seven and a daughter Mary age 12. Both are graduates of Williams College and their interests are very diverse.

Professional duties of the curator position include researching and working with an already existing collection of works that have been donated as gifts to the United Nations by its member states. There are some 50 gifts that have been stored in the basement of the UN for years. These historic treasures were once the responsibility of the UN Art Committee until this new museum had been formed.

Margaret Windsor will also be responsible for annual shows that will display treasures as well as sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and mosaics on loan annually from United Nation members. This revolving show will include works of art from all members of the United Nations, titled “Arts of Nations”.

Margaret Windsor will be working with all members and collaborating the delicate balance of each show, planning and designing each show. Independent funds will be supplied to each United Nations member who will be participating in the various shows. The latter involves frequent entertaining, including both hosting small gatherings and large events, at the curator's home.

Names of each family member will make their home in a duplex apartment owned by the United Nations Art Committee and is located at 435 East 52nd Street. The well-known River House, designed by famous architect William Lawrence Bottomley.  This duplex apartment was donated to the United Nations 50 years ago and has spectacular views of the East River and the United Nations. It was never updated to accommodate the lifestyle of a 21st century family as well as to accommodate an entertaining area and an office for a senior assistant.

Design schemes should accommodate fund raising events such as formal dinners, luncheons, and cocktail parties. In addition, since the family enjoys cooking and hosting small dinners with friends and their children, schemes should accommodate more intimate informal gatherings as well as a kitchen that can meet the high demands of entertaining.

The dining area should seat a minimum of 20 people for formal events and eight people for informal gatherings. The public rooms of the apartment must also accommodate large cocktail parties, with room for guests to move about the spaces. The public space should also accommodate a guest room and private bath.

 The private elevator can either bring them to the public floor for entertaining and the private floor above which acts as their private living quarters. On the public floor, provision should be made for storing catering equipment such as additional tables, chairs, and linens within the apartment. Margaret Windsor and Sienna Jarvis each request a private office in their living quarters, as well as an office for the curator and her assistant on the public floor.

Margaret Windsor, the curator, will thus work from her home office. (she needs a private and public office) However, she will frequently meet with donors and potential artists at the apartment since it provides a striking view of the East River. These meetings will require areas for conversation and light meals, as well as table space for sketching and unrolling drawings.

Margaret Windsor and Sienna Jarvis wish to include a family workspace with desktop computer and paper file storage in the Library. Ideally this space may be closed off for privacy while adjacent rooms are being used for meetings or entertaining. The family also requires shelf space to store a book collection of several hundred volumes. 

The curator’s partner Sienna Jarvis, as mentioned, is an orthopedic surgeon based at the nearby hospital for special surgery.  Although she works from an office in another location, Sienna Jarvis requires bookshelves to accommodate her 500 medical book library. She is also an adjunct professor at the Columbia Presbyterian School of Continuing Education and is filmed for the lecture series.

 The family enjoys watching television shows and movies together. A large size television screen and comfortable viewing area should be included in the scheme. The children will also play video games on this television. Storage for game and A/V equipment should be provided nearby.

The twins Jean and Andrew enjoy playing soccer and reading. Provision should be made for storing soccer equipment, as well as books within his bedroom.

The daughter Mary is interested in sewing, and requires workspace for a sewing machine and storage for fabrics and notions in her bedroom. She requests a color scheme of blue and green.

Furnishings and Art

As part of their schemes, participants are required to incorporate several existing furnishings owned by the clients. Photographs and dimensions of these pieces are included in the Required Furnishings Catalog, which may be uploaded from link below. There are no stipulations for the locations of these pieces within the apartment; participants are encouraged to find creative ways to incorporate the pieces into schemes, which may include modifying or altering the pieces.

In addition, participants may select pieces from the UN art collection made available by the UN and to be properly displayed for viewing in the public and private spaces of the apartment. Photographs and dimensions of these pieces are included in the Art Catalog, which may be uploaded from the link below. The use of these artworks is optional; however, Margaret Windsor feels that art both enhances the client's enjoyment of the apartment and makes a statement about the importance of the arts program that is so much a part of the UN collection.

Although the UN has committed to funding the interior design of the apartment, the owner has no intent to provide or purchase artwork other than that which is included in the Art Catalog.

Project Location


The River House was constructed in 1931 on the site of a former cigar factory. Design by Architect William Lawrence Bottomley. Originally, the building featured a pier where residents could dock their yachts, but that amenity was lost with the construction of the FDR Drive. The building has a gated cobblestone courtyard featuring a fountain. The building's 26 story tower is decorated in an Art Deco style. 

The apartment features views of the UN's art collection. The United Nations Art Collection is a collective group of artworks and historic objects donated as gifts to the United Nations by its member states, associations, or individuals. These artistic treasures and possessions, mostly in the form of “sculptures, paintings, tapestries and mosaics”, are representative “arts of nations” that are contained and exhibited within the confines of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, United States, and other duty stations, making the UN and its international territories a "fine small museum".

source: Wikipedia

Project Site

Built in 1931, River House is an Art Deco–style gem that is considered an iconic building in Manhattan. Designed by Bottomley, Wagner & White, a firm known for its mastery of neoclassical and Art Deco forms and scale, the property epitomizes the glory days of New York apartment living and once had a private pier on the East River for residents to arrive by and moor their yachts.

The project site are two full floors in the tower of The River House. The primary public rooms are on the lower level, while the private bedrooms and quarters are on the second level.

Click on images to enlarge

street layout


Presentation must include:

  • A written statement of no more than 500 words describing design solution, including concepts for choosing furnishings and artwork, and how visits to museums, showrooms, and/or auction houses influenced design scheme
  • Floor Plan/Furniture Plan showing entire apartment
  • Reflected Ceiling Plan/Lighting Plan to show proposed lighting throughout apartment
  • Elevations of principal rooms as required to show design intent
  • Scheme boards including images of proposed finishes, furnishings, lighting, textiles, and artworks
  • At least one three-dimensional representation of a principal room
  • Sketches and other material showing development of concept. Hand sketches and drawings are especially encouraged

Presentations will be submitted digitally, and are to comprise a maximum of four 30” x 40” presentation boards in landscape format, plus a single page written statement described above. The written statement should be the first image of the presentation, followed by the four boards.

Each presentation is to be submitted as a single digital PDF file, with a total file size not exceeding 15MB. The written statement as well as each board must be labeled with the ID code issued to the participant upon registration. The ID code must be the only visible identifying information on the submission. Presence of other identifying information will result in disqualification.

Instructions for submitting projects will be provided to each participant upon registration. Upon completion of the competition, project images will be transferred to this website, where they will be accessible for public viewing.

Since judges will be reviewing projects without the benefit of in-person presentations, participants are encouraged to make submissions as self-explanatory as possible. All boards, drawings, and other images should be clearly titled and labeled. Written descriptions should be thorough, and all graphics should be clearly legible on presentation boards.

Representation techniques for presentations are completely free, and may include two and three-dimensional drawings, pictures of models, sketches, renderings, etc., as determined by each participant to best put forth his or her design scheme. Presentations will be evaluated by the jury not only on the quality of the project, but also on the clarity and quality of the presentation.

Please note:  Winner must be present at the May 2, 2018 Gala Awards Event in order to collect prize.

Participation Requirements


Between the registration opening date of January 7, 2018 and the submission deadline of March 23, 2018, participants must agree to visit a minimum of two of the New York City museums and trade resources listed below:


The prize will be awarded based on overall excellence of design scheme. The jury will take into consideration the creativity of the proposed scheme, attention to the functional requirements of the program, and the response to the site and the architectural setting.

Judges will pay special attention to the qualities that make for successful residential design: natural and artificial lighting; comfort of spaces and furnishings; customization of the design scheme to the clients’ personal interests, tastes and collections; and the use of furnishings, materials and finishes to enhance the design concepts for the scheme.

Participants will also be judged on the quality of their presentations, which should clearly and logically convey the design solution, including both the general concept and specific details.