Veyko’s custom metal screens are composed of 284 aluminum strips, each containing several varying 45-degree angles.
After 25 successful years, it was time to update the interior of Le Bernardin—a New York restaurant renowned for its constantly evolving menu. Owners Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze turned to New York-based architecture firm Bentel & Bentel Architects & Planners to design an interior that matched its trend-setting carte du jour. Part of the sophisticated new palette includes three metal screens that offer privacy and transparency in the main dining area, a new lounge, and the entry foyer. To craft the screens’ 284 undulating aluminum strips and frames, the architects turned to Veyko, an ornamental metal fabrication studio outside of Philadelphia.
Jumping off from a two dimensional drawing, Veyko owner Richard Goloveyko said the specific form of the screens developed organically through the design and fabrication process. “We spent a lot of time establishing our ability to bend each bar consistently,” he said. “One of the intricacies of the project was keeping the bends consistent to form a pattern; if a bend isn’t consistent it can start to read.”
Veyko developed a custom-bending jig to achieve each 3/8- by 3-inch bar’s unconventional twist along its approximately 11-foot length. Unlike traditional ironwork, where a bar would be manipulated through multiple 360-degree rotations, each strip turns in varying directions at 45-degree intervals. “It keeps reversing on itself,” Goloveyko explained. The machine that Veyko developed allowed its technicians to lay a bar of metal down for twisting and bending without ever having to take the piece out of the machine, ensuring that all bends were produced simultaneously. Traditional bending jigs require a technician to insert the bar, apply the desired bend, then sequentially slide the bar along to initiate the next point of manipulation. At best, it is a challenging process to produce a consistent bend across 284 pieces, Goloveyko said.
Compared to similar Veyko projects, the development process wasn’t as digitally intensive as other designs the company has worked on. Aside from modeling each screen in Rhino, the only other digital software utilized was SolidWorks to design and laser-cut the custom gears for the machine. “Within the custom jig, the force required to develop that unique twist had to be magnified or geared,” Goloveyko said. “We developed a system of gears that would give a technician leverage to force that bar into shape.”
The single feature of the interior that remained unchanged after the renovation is the restaurant’s wooden ceiling, which presented several challenges when installing the screens. Due to inherent unevenness in the preexisting coffers, two screens float in front of the walls, resting on setting blocks and captured by a channel to keep them from destabilizing. The top of each 32 1/2 by 11 1/2-foot and 8 1/2- by 11-foot screen is screwed to the wall. The 22- by 12 1/2-foot window installation in the lounge presented fewer difficulties, and was easily mounted within the window recess.
In addition to Le Bernardin’s Michelin-star accolades and a number of James Beards Awards for cuisine and service, the redesign also earned Bentel & Bentel Architects & Planners the 2012 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design. The architects are currently considering Veyko once again for similar work on a project in Chicago.