Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman, principals of the 25-person firm Workshop/apd, met as undergraduates at Lehigh University. Following separate pursuits and different paths to graduate school—at Michigan and Columbia respectively—Kotchen landed a string of residential projects on Nantucket and in New York and the two quickly formed a partnership. Though the firm has developed a large portfolio of residential work over the past decade plus, often with sleek, contemporary interiors designed by the firm’s in-house interior design division, Workshop/apd is diversifying, with a restaurant project, a large loft building conversion with new maisonettes, a Soho storefront improvement, and an institutional commission for a visitor’s center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “We lead all our presentations now with the Navy Yard,” said Berman. “We want to do more projects that are impactful in a public way.”
Located in lower Midtown, Workshop/apd occupies a narrow full-floor loft office, fitted out with classic and contemporary residential furnishings, giving the office a relaxed, comfortable feel. The firm also maintains a small field office in Nantucket for its thriving residential practice.
Like many practices of their generation, Kotchen and Berman’s office uses advanced fabrication techniques to create custom pieces, ranging in scale from light fixtures to facade cladding panels. The Navy Yard project, called BLDG 92, was a crash course in on-site fabrication and local sourcing. Before starting the project, they took an inventory of the companies and artisans at the Navy Yard and realized they could specify everything from steel to furnishing to graphics within the complex, including the building’s laser-cut facade panels. They hope the building will give New Yorkers a better understanding of the complex’s role in the city’s economy.
“It’s the first time the fence has been broken, so people can see what’s going on in the Navy Yard,” Berman said. “We think that’s really exciting.”
Donna Dotan Photography
New York, New York
Workshop/apd placed a private dining room in the center of this restaurant located in a new mixed-use building to break up the massive space and create a more human scale. Open shelving offers glimpses in and out of the space, so private parties feel separate from but still engaged with the action in the larger restaurant. Large and small-scale pendant lights also help make the space feel more intimate.
Upper East Side Apartment
New York, New York
Prior to its conversion into a second floor apartment, this space housed more than a dozen doctors’ offices. The building’s many original windows allowed for the creation of a light-filled residence. Travertine floors and built-ins throughout give the space a luxurious, spare feel, where possessions can easily be tucked away and art and objects are highlighted. The firm teamed up with KA Design Group to finish the interiors.
North Salem, New York
The architects are cladding this guesthouse, gym, and spa on the grounds of an upstate horse farm in Corten, creating a balance between tactile materials and simplified forms. Some panels are laser cut to create screens and openings for widows, producing a varied experience of light and shadow, transparency and opacity. The interior is spare and serene with custom fabricated stairs and lighting. A concrete connecting bridge and carport add contrast and weight to the composition.
Chappaqua, New York
Nestled on a wooded hillside between two large boulders, this tiny retreat is an ideal spot to read, paint, or play music. A large bank of floor to ceiling glass opens onto a generous deck. Inside, midcentury pieces by Noguchi and Saarinen mix with contemporary furniture and art, creating a sophisticated contrast to the natural palette of Ipe and walnut.
New York, New York
Recently approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, this plan for a series of existing storefronts, for Zar Properties, on Greene Street simplifies and opens them up for more light and display area, while respecting the historic massing and window patterns of the buildings. Custom fabricated filigree grills draw on the imagery of the cast-iron district and new display cases make space for rotating public art.