It was no surprise for Experience NoMad to find out that we have a resident in the neighborhood who is a writer, DJ and architect. Meet Chris Alker, a perfect example of the creative movers and shakers in NoMad, and learn about his favorite destinations and inspirations in the neighborhood.
Best spot to go on a date?
Black Barn on the north side of the park is great. You can relax with drinks and small bites in the front bar/lounge room if you want to keep things casual. It also has sit down dining in the rear if you want to be more formal. Chef John Doherty makes “feel good” food. He is a down to earth guy who regularly comes out to chat with diners.
Quirkiest place in NoMad?
I think the Museum of Sex qualifies. I love seeing people on the sidewalk react to the rotation of kinky window displays. A more conservative friend of mine was in town from LA recently, and he refused to visit with his new bride who was dying to check it out (laughs). The museum is currently exhibiting Bill Bernstein’s Disco photographs from the late 70’s in a show called “Night Fever.” I’m a fan.
What’s your schedule when you work in NoMad?
While I work full-time in Dumbo, I do all my freelance work at home or around the neighborhood. Being close to the park and near a good coffee shop or three is ideal. With easy access to multiple train lines you feel like you can get to anywhere in the city from here. Since I moved to New York, this is the first place that really feels like home to me.
How does being in NoMad influence your business?
The mix of downtown and uptown in the neighborhood really resonates with me. I love the historic structures alongside new restaurants and residential developments with an eye for high-end design. Here I can meet clients who understand the importance of good design and there are a dozen showrooms sporting everything from furniture to clawfoot tubs and custom cabinetry, which I can refer to. Now if someone would just open a record store, I’d never leave.
Where do you go to decompress/get drinks after work?
If I want a beer and some hearty snacks, I go to The Churchill Tavern on 28th Street. If I want a cocktail, I will hit up the Resto turned Cannibal Liquor House on 29th Street; the soulful playlist fits like a glove.
What’s your go-to spot for morning coffee?
Birch on 27th Street has been a staple for me. Cold brew during the summer is key.
As an architect, what is your favorite building in NoMad?
You mean build-ings right? I can’t possibly choose one. As a pedestrian, the New York Life building by Cass Gilbert on Madison and 26th Street is classic. While I tend to be more modern in my approach to architecture, the scale and proportions of this building are artfully done. My runner up is the HUYS building at 404 Park Avenue South where I live. When my wife and I were looking for a place to buy, it was important that it be different than the other developments we had seen. I am a big proponent of adaptive reuse, and the Dutch designer Piet Boon injected some beautiful modern interiors with thoughtful details into a historic shell. The resulting contrast is superb and the roof deck is killer.
What’s the most under-the-radar spot in NoMad?
There aren’t too many unexplored spots in the neighborhood, but the front room of Covina is untapped during the day on the weekends. With a modest storefront on a street with less foot traffic, it is easily missed. You can often find me there on a Sunday afternoon working on an article, picking out music for one of my gigs, or scribbling in my notebook.
Your favorite place in NoMad to hear DJs (such as yourself) spin?
The lobby at the Ace Hotel has some great talent roll through, and you can hear a really eclectic mix of music. Squares on Park Avenue, which opened a few short months ago, has potential. I hope to grace the decks at both spots soon.
What in or about NoMad inspires you creatively?
NoMad is one of those neighborhoods that stands as a gateway between old New York and the future. Operating in this context helps me move forward with an eye on the past. It is a vantage point expressed in everything from my DJ mixes to the 200-year-old row houses I help return to their former glory. If that is not inspiring, what is?
Find out more about Chris Alker by visiting his website www.chrisalker.com.