All posts in Open

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Mausolea No More

A+I converts three outdated lobbies in Manhattan’s Hudson Square
Hudson Square is a little pocket on the west side of Lower Manhattan that’s fairly unknown to the average New Yorker. A former printing press district, it’s now home to dozens of prime commercial properties with views of the Hudson River. Thanks to the large floor plates and ample access to daylight in the area’s immense brick buildings, tech start-ups, advertising companies, and media giants are clamoring for space in the neighborhood. Norges Bank and Trinity Real Estate, the real estate arm of New York’s Trinity Church and owner of over a dozen properties in the area, enlisted Architecture Plus Information (A+I) to transform the lobbies of three Hudson Square buildings into an amenity-rich network of informal spaces for local workers. The design team, led by Eliane Maillot, A+I’s associate principal and studio director, sought to make the entrances to buildings at 75 Varick Street, 225 Varick, and 155 Avenue of the Americas as engaging as two other A+I projects in the area: the headquarters of Squarespace and Horizon Media. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Picture Perfect

Waechter Architecture’s Society Hotel Bingen frames the Pacific Northwest
Nestled within the Washington State side of the Columbia River Gorge since 1908, the Bingen Schoolhouse has had many lives. It is now home to half of the Society Hotel’s second outpost thanks to a renovation helmed by Portland, Oregon–based Waechter Architecture, which also designed additions that house guest rooms, a spa, and more. With a residential neighborhood immediately surrounding the plot and industrial facilities farther beyond, the subtle negotiations between privacy and exposure were a major challenge for the architects. “With the site constraints and opportunities as well as with the specifics of the program desires and requirements, we developed the idea of the edited panorama,” said founder and principal Ben Waechter. The designers took a sculptural approach, carving programmatic areas out of refined, faceted masses, all of which are clad in board-and-batten cedar inspired by the simple material palette of the schoolhouse. Twenty individual cabins radiate across the field, tethered together by a roof that joins them into a hexagonal ring. The roof cantilevers into the central courtyard, providing a covered walkway around the perimeter of the campus while framing views of the surrounding gorge. This organization buffers the hotel from the community while producing intimate outdoor pockets for each unit that look over the countryside. “There was an idea of creating a strong threshold in passing through the ring—not simply passing through a wall plane but passing through this thickness,” Waechter added. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Run Run Run

OFFPOLINN’s latest Madrid eatery is as active as its clientele
What does a Fitbit have in common with a cafe? According to Andrés Jaque, founder and principal of the Office for Political Innovation (OFFPOLINN), both are “prosthetics of the body” that extend its functions and operations into the surrounding world. The Madrid- and New York-based studio infused that idea into its vibrant design for Run Run Run, a new eatery in Madrid’s Vallehermoso neighborhood that’s part farm, part athletic center, part cafe, part something else entirely. OFFPOLINN collaborated with restaurateurs Grupo La Musa to create a space for runners to refuel with a post-workout pit stop. The cafe’s main seating space is in a greenhouse-like structure trimmed in a mint-green frame that sits atop the marigold-yellow, basement-level kitchen and communal bar. Hanging from the concrete structure above, a vertical garden grows between the two levels and supplies the cafe with fresh produce. “Clean eating” takes on new meaning as water from an open shower provided for runners to rinse off is reclaimed to irrigate the garden. Other areas more often associated with gyms, such as a locker room, further support customers using the city as a training course. To maximize the interior’s flexibility, Jaque and his team conceived the space as “a metabolism rather than a fixed box.” Freestanding furniture and architectural features are color-coded according to their relative fixity. Peachy hues in the interlocking marble slabs of the floor are echoed in the scalloped backs of the blush sofas as well as the bubblegum-tinted ceiling to signal permanence. Red and green represent objects in flux or in a constant state of motion. Movable metal chairs, stools, and tables coated in blood orange are paired with vibrant turquoise cork seats resembling stacked bricks, each designed, prototyped, and fabricated by OFFPOLINN’s Spanish atelier. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Face First

Scott & Scott Architects crafts a monochromatic facial bar in Vancouver
Far from the flickering fluorescent lights and bleached-white surfaces of most clinical environments, self-proclaimed “world’s first clean skincare bar” Fig—the latest addition to Vancouver’s trendy Kitsilano neighborhood—challenges the sterile tropes of healthcare spaces. Behind an unassuming 1900s-era facade is a rich, tonal boutique replete with velvet, metal, marble, and more, all courtesy of local practice Scott & Scott Architects. Borrowing from the brand’s moniker, the 400 square-foot space is a monochromatic study in layered tones of viridian, olive, and sage. “The color range of a fig is utilized to create a relaxed experience with soft acoustics and illumination,” Scott & Scott principal Susan Scott explained about his and his partner’s evocative choice of materials. Thick full-height velvet curtains define three skin treatment and injection rooms; each with its own Japanese barber chair and hanging metal number plate. To capitalize on the compact interior, Scott & Scott stripped back the ceiling to the full height of the existing rafters, which were then clad in rows of curved perforated steel with a desaturated mint coating. The resulting coffered ceiling integrates indirect lighting while concealing HVAC and electrical equipment. A series of scalloped metal forms continue from the roof to line the surface of a single wall and create a dimensional product display. Circular glass shelves, storage for inventory, and a washbasin to test various skincare items are integrated into these alcoves. Dark green marble tops the central counter, product storage units, and a low bench to further emphasize the nature-inspired palette. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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The Everlaneing Story

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson brings Everlane’s Williamsburg outpost back to basics
You can never have too many black t-shirts, particularly if they are sustainably and ethically made. This sentiment rings true for online clothing retailer Everlane and their latest minimal, refined, and airy outpost; set in a historic 1960s two-story structure. For their fourth and largest store to-date, located in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the brand sought out US firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ)—best known for their work with Apple and Blue Bottle—to helm the design. The result is a 2,700 square-foot space illuminated by a 20 foot-high glazed facade that punctures the white brick exterior to flood the paired-back interior with natural light, all while nodding to the transparency of the brand. Pale maple fixtures with white metal accents, designed by BCJ in collaboration with the retailer, line the women’s department while adding warmth to the muted walls and flooring. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Group Work

Yves Béhar whips up a warm palette for coworking offices in San Francisco
Located in the Jackson Square area of San Francisco's financial district, the third location of the coworking conglomerate Canopy rents out private offices. Developers Amir Mortazavi and Steve Mohebi paired up with local, Swiss designer Yves Béhar to divvy up 10,000 square feet inside of a centuries-old building into five stories of 32 private offices—each accommodates one to ten tenants. Sourcing the building—located just across the street from the fourth tallest building in the city 555 California Street (largest by floor area)—which historically houses some of the most notable financial and tech companies including Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft—Mortazavi and Mohebi saw the need for private spaces among growing companies. Featuring two stories of full-floor private offices and two floors of 2,000 square foot communal offices, a subdued material palette sprinkled with low maintenance plant life by Léon and George gives a light airy aura—something that is soft and not too brazen for the tired eyes of the financial services industry. Overall, the parred down aesthetic (no stuffed mallards to be found here) comprises the original exposed bricks with rough-textured rugs in a sea of Herman Miller office furniture. Meanwhile, bespoke Blue Calcite marble and aluminum conference and communal tables by M-PROJECTS and local artisans, placed in prominent positions, aesthetically tie together each nook and cranny. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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The Browsing Circuit

Steven Holl’s amble-worthy Hunters Point Library is finally open
Steven Holl has faced some real challenges with the Hunters Point Library in Long Island City, Queens—both artistic and pragmatic. Its completion after nine years can now be celebrated (construction began in 2015), but it’s a long time to wait for the $40 million, 22,000-square-foot-project, built by the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC). For the last year, precautions were made to adjust balconies off the central atrium space to prevent any suicide attempts. Nevertheless, it has been well put together by Steven Holl Architects, with Olaf Schmidt in charge, and opens today, September 24. Holl points out that what makes the library tick is its connection between what it looks like and how it’s experienced. He sums it up as a “browsing circuit,” comparable to his plan for an earlier unbuilt American Memorial Library in Berlin. For both there was the open stack, finding your own books, and seeing what others of interest were there at their side. In Queens, this is accomplished by suggesting readers movement along a multitude of stairways that are punctuated by levels with select bookcases off the sides, designed with shelves which accommodate readers’ books and/or their computers. Holl favors both artifacts, but he insists on the continuing presence of books. Holl also sees this space as a community center for presenting lectures, reciting poetry, or offering philosophical views. The latter can take place below, in the meeting room, or on the roof level at an outdoor setup with its dark wood seats. Literature for the earlier Berlin library tells of its fulfilling an aim of John Cotton Dana (1856-1929), the American librarian’s officiation of the open stack. Dana wasn’t alone, but the Americans open stacks library was actuated by him. Coming upon more than the original call number gives the reader a wider choice, a chance to browse. Inside—the exterior views have already been discussed—the good number of stairways suggest the presence of a Gianbattista Piranesi’s Carceri second state etching, Pier with a Lamp (1761). In 2007 Holl had rendered a watercolor painting based precisely on this print, transforming it over from a typical dark, mysterious, and haunting Piranesi to a brightly lit, upbeat image. This changeover in mood to a cheerful interior is the kind of atmosphere which John Cotton Dana prescribed for his ideal public library. He said,
Let the shelves be open, and the public admitted to them, and let the open shelve strike the keynote of the whole administration. The whole library should be permeated with a cheerful and accommodating atmosphere.
I would say that Holl has unknowingly fulfilled Dana’ s goal and maybe consciously paid homage to Piranesi. The cheerfulness of Holl’s library is—in spite of his knowledge of the persistence of doubt and uncertainty in our world–due to strong light coming in from the huge windows (modulated by metallic curtains) and enhanced by artificial lighting; LED and canisters lights provided by Dove and other companies. Answering Piranesi and some Cubists intents, there are theatrical views in addition to Holl’s fully tectonic field: A bold, slanting north/south white form resembling a beam (but is in actuality the underside of the egress stair clad with sheetrock) moving through a portion of the building is perpendicularly met by a curved mass and sheaved with bamboo, allowing for flickering light and shadow earth color effects, like early Cubist still lifes and landscapes. The photos above by Paul Warchol show how the library presents an ambiguous spatial field; the fragmented mass is a typical Cubist formal language. One other especially noteworthy interior view is the vaulting of the children’s area into an atrium space. The children’s area is across to the south, shielded by a curved vault of rounded steel tubes bent with metal decking spanning between, as observed by Justin den Herder of Silman, the engineering firm who helped realize the job. This structural element is also clad with bamboo panels allowing for a billowing curvature. The teen section is tucked away on the 5th level, off the atrium, and, above, on the roof deck, is the small outdoor theatre for lectures and cafe treats. Other contributors to Holl’s design were Michael Van Valkenburgh’s landscaping and Julianne Swartz’s optical devices. Van Valkenburg was hired to design a much more complicated scheme but the budget was sharply reduced, allowing only for several Honey Locust trees. Swartz’s four sculptural lenses were placed strategically along, and inside, the library to control views, echoing the playfulness of the sixties-era lens boxes designed by Mary Bauermeister. According to Swartz, “I make sculpture because it relates to the body.” This, in extension, is incredibly fitting for a design by Holl, since his work is ultimately tied to phenomenology. Alongside Holl’s sublime measures of the atrium, is his human scale and measurement throughout. Libraries around the globe have proliferated recently; they’re increasingly offering more than borrowed books. Is it too much to say, that our new community library in Queens, complete with its 50,000 books, now provides usefulness and beauty, equal to any of these others or even greater than some?
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Screen Time

Architecture Office reimagines the cubicle for a new coworking flagship in Syracuse
From the sublime sea of Judd-like boxes in Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967) to the endlessly adaptable furniture systems of today, the cubicle has long been at the center of the office environment. For ShareCuse, a new flagship coworking space in downtown Syracuse, New York, Austin-based studio Architecture Office reimagines this typology as a layered and diffused interior element that connects rather than separates. Throughout the 3,200 square foot space, the firm placed three freestanding cubicles that act as anchors for surrounding seating areas, conference room, telephone booth, and private offices. Inspired in part by the ethereal work of artist Robert Irwin, these elements function “as a series of minimal objects that occupy, frame, and define regions by inhabiting a larger room,” noted Architecture Office co-principal Jonathan Louie. Frames made of 1-inch square aluminum contain custom desks with integrated task lights to provide room for four users within each unit. Black mesh scrims, connected with a custom system, wrap each side to create semi-transparent veils within the overall space, punctuated with a series of 3-by 7-foot openings, allowing for access into the cubicle as well as encouraging exchange between those working within. According to Architecture Office co-principal Nicole McIntosh, the aim was to “design a flexible organization [with] workers moving around the objects and interacting within the shared office landscape.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Market Value

Studio Robert McKinley tailors a European-inspired market in Houston
Following the success of their contemporary honky-tonk, Goodnight Hospitality has taken a break from nightlife in favor of daytime fare. Montrose Cheese & Wine, one of their newest concepts located in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, is tucked behind a crisp-white brick facade accented with tailored viridian moldings. The intimate 800-square-foot cafe and store provides “a local, independent and high-quality source for retail cheese, wine, and pastry needs,” said Goodnight’s David Fleck. Designed by New York-based Studio Robert McKinley and inspired by the vendors, or salumeria, found throughout Europe, the new space contains far more than its moniker implies all while retaining the charm of this old world reference. A curving oiled oak and marble display case sits atop the terrazzo floor and houses a rotating selection of pastries and cheeses courtesy of cheesemonger Shannon McCracken. A sleek metal shelf, suspended on delicate arms behind the counter, presents additional pantry must-haves and further emphasizes the space’s market inspiration. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Soft in the Middle

The Levee offers a sense of updated luxury in Tel Aviv's historic White City
Set in a restored 1909 mansion, The Levee is a new home-tel concept for short-term residence. Located in heart of Tel Aviv's storied White City—know for its Bauhaus and International Style-inspired architecture—the luxury lodging comprise 8 carefully-planned "villas." Occupying both the historical eclectic-style Gurvetich House below and the contemporary, Bar Orian Architects-conceived addition above, these loft-like apartments were meticulously outfitted by recognized Belgian-Israeli designer Yael Siso. Siso's intervention throughout complements exposed concrete walls with a plush, warm, and textured material palette. Demonstrating the potential of an unexpected color combination, deep blues—found in upholstered furnishings—are paired with lush greens—evident in the abundant use of plants. Grey and off-white planes of textile help anchor these sharp accents within the spacious interiors. Read the full article on our interiors and design website,
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Essexive Options

SHoP's Essex Street Market brings food hall glory to the LES
88 Essex Street New York Architect: SHoP Architects 917-881-7096 While food halls are “The Thing” developers build nowadays to lure Instagram-hungry foodies, an O.G. grocery and snack palace quietly thrived for almost 80 years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The city-owned Essex Street Market, home to dozens of vendors, was a delightful institution where you could buy whole branzini, munch on empanadas, and get a haircut without leaving the building. While vendors thrived, economic pressures compelled the city to move the market from its old location. As of May 2019, the relocated food palace has a shorter name and bigger digs. Designed by New York’s SHoP Architects, the newly christened Essex Market’s slanted, scalloped ceilings echo vaulted subway stations and shed warm light on shoppers who wander between the 37 stalls or hunker down to eat in the mezzanine. SHoP collaborated with Hi-Lume Corp., which packed GFRG into textured molds to form the ceiling’s 3-D patterning. On the floor, ShoP worked with AGL Industries, Inc., a Queens-based steel company, on simple metal frames that vendors tailor to their concepts. Essex Market is part of Essex Crossing, a 20-acre development, with nine buildings and a master plan executed by SHoP. In October, the market will link to The Market Line, a subterranean corridor of food purveyors. Get ready to eat up.
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Public Palace

India's first sculpture park opens for a second season
India’s first public sculpture park opened last year in the sprawling Madhavendra Palace, a milestone for the country’s contemporary art scene. The palace's formal corridors and rooms have been curated as a uniquely rich pathway for visitors to The Sculpture Park to see new works of contemporary sculpture in each edition of the park’s programming. This year, 23 artists have brought new, often site-specific works to the palace, and over half of them live and work in India themselves.  “For most of my career as a gallerist and curator, I have been trying to break away from the white-box exhibition space,” 2019 edition curator Peter Nagy told Hyperallergic. “With this project, I am able to indulge my passions for art, architecture, and decor into a marvelous synthesis of the past and the present.”  Completed in 1892, the Palace is the best-preserved section of the Nahargarh Fort complex, which was designed to sit organically amongst the hills as a pleasure retreat for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh, founder of the city of Jaipur. Twenty-three artists will explore ideas of landscape, politics, and colonialism in their works this year, amidst the backdrop of an Indian heritage landmark to create a striking context. From architectural explorations of the intersections of modern colonial and traditional styles to World War II radio relics, the pieces are varied in narrative as well as scale, but united by their common backdrop. The palace as sculpture park continues to exist as an example of public and private sectors working side-by-side for the proliferation of the arts. A collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan and Saat Saath Arts non-profit, The Sculpture Park states in its mission statement that the park is an example of an “India of the 21st century,” a "synthesis of the contemporary with the traditional, bringing art into the public realm and reclaiming public spaces.” But with works decrying hot-button issues such as the Kashmir border crises and the lingering effects of war and empire, it is difficult to see how the park's artists plan to work with governmental bodies to reform the topics this exhibition is expressing.  Yet, the public is responding. Just since the park’s opening, visitation to the palace has increased by 37 percent.