Archtober Building of the Day #9
58 Kent Street, Brooklyn
Ole Sondresen Architect
“Nothing is better than doing nothing.” While this may be the maxim that many of us live by on lazy Sunday afternoons, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn it applies to the design philosophy of Norwegian carpenter-turned-architect Ole Sondresen. During today’s tour of the Kickstarter headquarters, Sondresen demonstrated how this sustainable principle guided his design process.
Sondresen approached the task of adaptively reusing a landmarked former pencil factory in an unorthodox fashion, at least by preservation standards. Rather than bringing the building back in time to its glory days, the architect froze the building in place, treating it as a post-industrial ruin. His design team left the brick exterior virtually untreated, even refusing to scrub away the graffiti accumulated over time.
Since the building had been gutted by a former owner, Sondresen had the liberty of reinventing many of the interior spaces. Instead of opting for traditional floor plates to offer lateral support, he created a structural core that also holds many of the building’s mechanical systems, minimizing piping elsewhere. This also allowed the creation of a glass-framed courtyard held up by repurposed steel trusses from the roof. The atrium floods most office spaces with natural light, and allows for green spaces on all three floors. All of the plants in the three-tier garden are local and were chosen to provide food and shelter to migratory songbirds.
Sondresen’s “do less” approach is also evident in Kickstarter’s interiors. As a former craftsman, wood plays a major role in making the untreated concrete structure appear warm and welcoming. All of it is reclaimed from dilapidated country barns or city demolitions, and a lot of it is left raw and untreated. Most of the furniture used in the variety of meeting spaces are either made of reclaimed materials in collaboration with local artisans or were bought second hand.
With more than $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund 135,000 projects, Kickstarter is responsible for the birth of many of our generation’s young makers and creators. With its focus on local, low-impact, and artisan-made materials, Ole Sondresen Architect’s design perfectly captures the global crowdfunding platform’s ethos.
See another contemporary work space today at The Barbarian Group by Clive Wilkinson Architects.