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The Pioneer

28 years ago, a brave sculptor and her family broke new territory with the purchase of a choice SoHo loft. It remains their home today.


No matter what the market bears, we just can’t seem to shake our desire for prime real estate. Long gone are the days when men on horseback galloped across the country looking for their piece of Manifest Destiny, yet the obsession with uncharted territory still lingers.

For city dwellers, the quest for land has turned into the quest for space. Especially for those who choose to live on the overcrowded island of Manhattan. It’s hard to believe (and frustrating to no end) that just a few decades ago, shuttered-up factories sat empty in the one-time manufacturing district south of Houston Street, begging for discovery.

And sure enough, throngs of artists—our modern-day pioneers—bravely answered the call of SoHo’s cast-iron canyons, staking their claims on massive industrial spaces that offered a new way of life. “The recipe of living in homes made up of little boxes had stuck for almost a century. Then, all of a sudden these large warehouses looked delicious,” says one such pioneer, sculptor Michele Oka Doner . . .

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Check out the gallery of her space below:

Story by Cate West Zahl
Photography by John Neitzel

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