• 1-800-123-789
  • info@webriti.com

Category ArchiveArchitecture

The Plan: For a Furniture Dealer, a ‘Showhouse’ Is the Best of Both Worlds

A “showhouse” is how designer and furniture dealer Meadows Office Interiors describes its second New York City location on the fifth floor of 625 West 55th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues.

Showhouse, yes, in that it’s been decorated and made to look like an exhibition—but being that it’s near the West Side Highway, with easy access to ship its goods and has 18-foot ceilings, it’s also a 17,000-square-foot warehouse.

The remaining 3,000-square-foot section is an office-showroom furnished with products from 53 of the 300 manufacturers with whom Meadows works. This setup allows for the actual office to be a display for clients who visit.

“We made sure that a client can come in here and see a whole range of products,” Sheri David, the chief executive officer of Meadows, told Commercial Observer on a recent tour of the new digs.

Take the 65-inch tabletop screen near the middle of the office for example. It has architecture software installed so that clients can work on office designs while on site. At the same time, Meadows is a distributor for Ideum, the manufacturer of the screen, so it showcases a product as well.

Most of the office is set up on a platform, which pushes the flooring higher to allow electrical wiring to run directly underneath the floors. As with tenants that purchase the flooring Meadows can easily move outlets in case it needs to relocate or expand workstations quickly.

“If [tenants] want to move at a moment’s notice, this helps,” said Marissa Allen, the chief operating officer of Meadows. “You need to show clients the ability to be flexible.”

Currently, 12 employees work at the showroom—under a multicolored painting of diamond shapes—in sales and client advisory roles. There are also four in the warehouse division. Construction of the project wrapped up in December 2017. The 91-person company’s main showroom and offices are at the Lipstick Building at 885 Third Avenue. (It also has additional locations in New Jersey.)

The showroom has three “mockup rooms,” which allow clients to set up products—like desks and chairs—to test the design and feel. And there is stadium seating in front the model rooms that allow people to watch the action. Meadows designed the walls between the showroom and warehouse in glass so light fills the storage area.

A flexible room, called “the den,” features a Ping-Pong table and comfortable colorful chairs. It can be used to relax or for team meetings. And there is a conference room, equipped with a 14-seat table and 95-inch television, guarded by plant-covered barn doors.

In the furniture business, every purveyor has dealt with clients missing small parts (screws, nuts, bolts). To combat this, Meadows prepared a parts room in its new space with thousands of small replacement pieces.

“So when those boxes of casters for chairs disappear,” Allen said, “we can help, so people can sit.”


Source: commercial

Five City-Shifting Projects Credited to the Late John Portman

John Portman, Jr., who died on Dec. 29, 2017 in his hometown of Atlanta at age 93, was more than just a famous architect and developer—his large-scale complexes changed the faces of cities. They planted a flag for a city. They were the sudden skyline changer. They were the kinds of projects that spurred urban renewal around the United States and the world.

Choosing his top project is nearly an impossible task as his work spans nearly seven decades. He started his Atlanta-based eponymous architecture firm John Portman & Associates in 1953, after working at another firm for a few years, and he worked to the bitter end, according to The New York Times. (He was also a savvy businessman: Besides his architecture firm, he established development company Portman Holdings and the AmericasMart marketplace, a wholesaler of home, gift, area rug and apparel merchandise.)

His projects have inspired legions of followers, as his “city-within-a-city” mega-projects helped rejuvenate urban areas. We take a look at five of his most city-defining projects.


Source: commercial

The Plan: Inside AlphaSights’ Linear Designed Offices in Midtown East

To London-based AlphaSights, which helps top executives address challenges by connecting them to industry experts around the globe, the line is an important concept.

The company likes to highlight its mission showing a world map with ample crisscrossing lines, reflecting business connections it helped facilitate.

So when it came to the design of its new offices at RFR Realty’s 350 Madison Avenue between East 44th and East 45th Streets, the architecture firm Ted Moudis Associates focused on blending lines throughout the 47,000-square-foot offices.

The architects made a series of curved lines on the ceiling by using dark and white exposed and dropped ceilings and on the floors via the contrast between wood and polished floors. The curved theme can be seen in the sleek reception desk.

“We wanted to evoke connections that were being made,” Jeff Knoll, a design director at Ted Moudis, told Commercial Observer. “We thought that that was an appropriate image. So a lot of the design has these curving, fluid lines.”

AlphaSights relocated to the new offices in August last year, expanding from 22,000 square feet at 229 West 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The company has the entire 12th and 14th floors and half of the 15th floor at 350 Madison Avenue. (There is no 13th floor in the building.)

Bright red is accentuated throughout the new digs in chairs, walls and table legs because it’s AlphaSight’s branding color. The hue stands out because it is the only non-neutral color (black, white or gray) that is being used in the space, excluding the wood.

Since the U.K.-based company wanted its New York offices to feel like the Big Apple, the Ted Moudis team designed the offices to look like industrial New York properties. That’s why the ceilings are exposed and the floors are polished concrete. The conference rooms are encased in glass resembling factory windows, and the columns have been stripped.

The architecture team recognized that this industrial look tends to be a bit dark. So to warm the space up, they added a hint of nature: wood floors and walls in some areas. They even decked out some of the columns in wood and embedded planters in the columns.

There is a green wall in the café, an unenclosed area at the center of the office. It doubles as a town hall space, which can hold up to about 75 people, and has a variety of seating schemes.

“A lot of [AlphaSight’s] employees are millennials, and this is a kind of environment where they are providing a lot of amenities for the staff,” Knoll said. “There is beer, wine and snacks. The café becomes a space that is used all day long.”


Source: commercial

The Plan: Emerge212 Brings High-End Hospitality to 1185 Avenue of the Americas

While the stratospheric rise of WeWork has raised the profile of coworking to an unprecedented level in recent years—with more firms than ever seeking to cater to the market for short-term, highly amenitized shared working spaces—“not all spaces are created equal,” according to James Kleeman, a director at boutique shared office provider Emerge212.

“There’s a wide landscape of coworking spaces out there,” Kleeman said during a recent visit to Emerge212’s newest location at 1185 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown. “The trajectory of officing is only going more nimble, more flexible, more [able] to suit each individual company and entrepreneur’s needs.”

Emerge212 was formed in 1999 as a wholly owned subsidiary of SL Green Realty Corp., which makes the firm “old-timers in this industry,” as Kleeman put it. But despite its relatively senior status, the office provider is going for an altogether different vibe than its competitors—one bringing “the best of hospitality and design into officing,” Kleeman said. “Our value proposition is the three S’s: style, service and sophistication.”

The two-level, 56,000-square-foot space at the SL Green-owned 1185 Avenue of Americas opened this past summer as Emerge212’s third New York City location, and like its other two (at 3 Columbus Circle and 125 Park Avenue, also SL Green properties) offers a sleekly designed, aesthetically minded office environment featuring high-end finishes and amenities. There are conference rooms named after famous artists (Warhol, Picasso, Pollack) that pay homage in their choice of carpeting and wallpaper (think splattered patterns on the walls of the Pollack room), while common area flourishes including a blue wooden staircase, a wall decked out in green, moss-like material and a glass table featuring gold-leaf decor that responds to static from the touch (designed by Kleeman himself) add a vibrant, modern feel to the place.

Café areas include diner-style seating and top-of-the-line coffee machines plus sparkling water and wine on tap—a WeWork-esque touch that lifts the coworking giant’s infamous tap beer amenity but “underscores the sophistication and the differentiation” of Emerge212’s product, Kleeman said. There is a “bistro” area housing a kitchen and movable furniture that can be reorganized to accommodate events; a building code-compliant fireplace; a glossy bicycle storage room; and a lounge area featuring soundproof “serenity” chairs equipped with speakers that can play audio of the user’s choice. Meanwhile, common area users can pipe in music through the rooms’ speaker systems with a tap of a smartphone.

And then there are the offices themselves, which line hotel-style corridors equipped with chic lighting fixtures but—with their three-foot-thick obfuscated glass panels and keyless entry—go for a more traditional and “private” office experience than many shared office spaces. Emerge212 clients, who Kleeman said mostly come from the financing, technology, legal and consulting industries, can take anywhere from a single cubicle up to several suites banded together to accommodate dozens of employees.

“We don’t have these big team rooms that are split desk by desk by desk,” Kleeman said, noting that the space’s more corporate aesthetic is going for a more “Midtown” feel than more creatively minded coworking environments.

While Kleeman had significant input in the design, Emerge212 enlisted the help of architecture and interior design firm LB Architects, which also designed the locations at 3 Columbus Circle and 125 Park Avenue. Rachel Talavera, a senior designer at LB Architects, said Kleeman’s vision was inspired by European boutique hotels and a desire to equip the space with furnishings and finishes “that were new to the marketplace.”

“They’re very particular in that someone walks into their space and doesn’t say, ‘Oh, that’s a Restoration Hardware table,’ ” Talavera said.

For Kleeman, it’s not only about designing the most beautiful space possible—one capable of “satiating the five senses”—but also building an environment that tenants will want to stay in “year over year over year.”

“When you build and design something that’s not as traditional, you’re taking a leap that the clientele you’re building it for is going to love it, want it, sign for it and pay for it,” he said. “We’ve gotten great feedback.”


Source: commercial

The Plan: The Box Factory Breathes New Life Into Ridgewood Former Industrial Building

When Chris Fogarty, one of the founding partners of architecture and interior design firm Fogarty Finger, was approached by developer Daren Hornig about helming the redevelopment of a former manufacturing building in Ridgewood, Queens, he was initially reluctant. Fogarty’s firm had previously worked on a similar repositioning project for Hornig Capital Partners, at 95 Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn, but this assignment was more limited in scale.

“I said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go out there; it’s a little too small for us,’ ” Fogarty said. “And I went out there and walked around the space, and the building was so beautiful. I was like, ‘How can I not work on this?’ ”

The three-story, 63,000-square-foot building at 1519 Decatur Street was built in 1929 and for years served as a box and packaging manufacturing facility. By the time Fogarty walked through the space, however, “it was just a mess,” he said. “There was all this old equipment there; [the walls were] all painted white and graffitied and peeling.” On top of that, the building, which was originally connected to an adjacent property, had no entrance of its own.

But even in a state of disrepair, the bones of the building—wood joist ceilings, wood floors and brick exteriors—stuck out. “You didn’t really know what to do, but you knew it was amazing,” Fogarty said.

Armed with a $10 million budget from Hornig and its development partner, Brickman, Fogarty Finger got to work on the building in the summer of 2016. A year and a half later, the newly branded Box Factory is now complete. In addition to having resuscitated the old manufacturing building back to life in a new form, the project seeks to bring the kind of loft-like office product that’s been all the rage during the current commercial real estate cycle—tailor-made for young, creatively oriented tenants—to the area straddling the border between Ridgewood and Bushwick.

In addition to having to create an entirely new entrance on Decatur Street, “we had the pleasure of putting in 110 new windows throughout the entire property,” Hornig noted. They also removed sheet rock that covered the wood joists on the second floor. “We opened that up to expose the joist and give it that creative look and feel that a lot of these creative tenants are looking for, and kept as much [of the original structure] as we could to retain the authenticity of the property,” he said. Meanwhile, the building got new bathrooms, elevators and mechanical systems, as well as a significant rehab of its roof and facade.

With ABS Partners Real Estate marketing the property’s roughly 56,000 square feet of office space and Ripco Real Estate in charge of leasing its more than 7,000 square feet of retail, the building is primed for any possible mix of tenants—from marketing companies seeking to claim its 3,700-square-foot third-floor suite as their new home, to artisans who may fancy the first floor’s prebuilt suites (which range from 1,100 to 3,600 square feet), 14-foot-tall ceilings and access to an outdoor courtyard.

“What we’re finding is there are a lot of people who live around this area and this is at a much better price point than any comparable building in that area,” said ABS Managing Director Ben Waller, who pegged asking rents for at the Box Factory between the high $20s to mid-$30s per square foot. “There’s a huge creative community—there’s a film studio one block away and also four, five breweries [in the neighborhood].” Waller added that the property is seeking a retail tenant, such as a brewery or coffee roastery, that could serve as an amenity for other tenants in the building.

Yet while the Box Factory certainly brings a fresh commercial product to the neighborhood, for Fogarty, the best thing about the project was the opportunity to breathe new life into a beautiful old building.

“That’s the nice thing about these buildings—they get this whole new life for the next 50, 100 years,” he said. “To bring them back to the market you have to invest so much money and time, but it’s a great savior for these buildings. It probably would have wasted away and been knocked down at some point.”


Source: commercial

The Plan: Flexibility, Greenery and a Large Pantry for a FinTech Firm

Before Ajay Chopra, the founder of Echo Design + Architecture, began designing the new 30,000-square-foot offices for financial technology company Broadway Technology at 28 Liberty Street, he set out to get a sense of what was important to its employees by interviewing them.

“What was interesting about this process is the amount of analysis that we had to do was pretty extensive,” Chopra said. “In order to maintain employees in today’s market, there are a lot of things that tech companies have to do.”

After four days of talking things over with many of the employees in groups, he came away with a few critical themes for the new office: flexibility, greenery and a large pantry.

So the offices will feature 10 meeting spaces and adjustable open-plan workstations, a sizable kitchen with two smaller satellites ones on either side of the new digs and enough plants to form a greenhouse (just kidding, but there are a lot). To reduce audible interruptions, Echo Design + Architecture will place acoustic panels throughout the space.

Chopra’s team began discussions about Broadway Technology’s new headquarters in the spring and he hopes they will complete it by next summer. (A construction manager has not yet been chosen for the project.)

The new offices for Broadway Technology, which has locations in Canada, the U.K. and Texas, will feature clean, polished concrete floors with 11.6-foot ceiling heights, walnut panels on walls and—if we weren’t clear before—lots and lots of plants (mostly ferns with a few lilies).

There will be plant walls near the reception area and in the main pantry, and there is more greenery along the edges of the office section that has a 1,550-square-foot town hall space. (The plant walls will have sprinkler systems).

“Generally plants makes you feel better,” Chopra said. “Not only the color but also it freshens the air. It has a comforting feeling, and it adds an element where it starts to warm up the space.”

To make the space available for employees to work in various ways, meeting spaces will come in a wide variety of sizes. There’s a boardroom, which can hold up to 16 people, but also phone booths for private conversations, “chat rooms” for one-on-ones, meeting spaces that can hold up to six persons and team rooms for up to 10. Some of the meeting rooms are connected by soundproof sliding doors and can be combined to make larger rooms.

The town hall section has a mix of uses. It will have a Ping-Pong table and stadium-like seating and projectors that can display movies. (Movies at work? Can Commercial Observer get in on this?) And when a glass sliding door is pushed back the space connects to the main pantry for an event venue that has standing room for 150 people (or 70 seated persons).

“Our goal is to allow employees to enjoy different parts of the space,” Chopra said.

Being on the 50th floor of the former One Manhattan Chase Plaza building comes with the advantage and disadvantage of Lower Manhattan views.

To give employees the option to reduce windows glare on computers, Chopra’s team designed “dual pocket shades” on the windows, which allow workers to completely black out the natural light or dim it.

“Lighting is critical,” Chopra said. “The idea was to give the employees an option so they can actually feel comfortable to work, so they are not distracted.”


Source: commercial

CO’s ‘Women in Construction & Design’ Event Celebrates Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Some of the most accomplished women working in the fields of construction, architecture and development gathered at Commercial Observer’s “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Leading Women in Construction & Design” event on Tuesday, where the conversation revolved around both the challenges facing, and the opportunities available to, women in a traditionally male-dominated field.

The morning was anchored by CO’s presentation of its 2017 Women in Construction Awards to six individuals who have made a mark upon their respective industries over the course of their careers.

The “Barrier-Breaker Award,” honoring women who have set a precedent in their fields, were presented to Aine Brazil, vice chairman at engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti; Jan Hilgeman, vice president of construction at Hines; and Carol Patterson, a senior partner at law firm Zetlin & De Chiara.

The “Woman on the Rise Award,” celebrating some of the most promising individuals working in the industry today, were given to Pascale Sablan, a senior associate at S9 Architecture, and Margaret Wrzos, an assistant project manager at AECOM Tishman.

And the “Innovative Designer/Engineer Award” was presented to Marianne Kwok, a senior designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox.

co glassceilingpics044 adler CO’s Women in Construction & Design Event Celebrates Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Keynote speaker Linda Chiarelli at CO’s “Women in Construction & Design” event. Photo: Aaron Adler

But the day also featured three broad-ranging panel discussions and a keynote address from Linda Chiarelli, vice president for capital projects and facilities at New York University. Chiarelli, who served as deputy director of construction for Forest City Ratner Companies before joining NYU, noted that women make up only 9 percent of the construction industry’s workforce—with many of those jobs in administrative and non-construction-related roles.

But she also cited progress from the days when job interviewers would ask “if I planned to have kids,” and urged attendees to be aware of the city’s new law prohibiting employers from inquiring about job applicants’ previous salaries—a regulation designed to lessen the pay gap faced by women and people of color. “You should all be aware [of the law],” Chiarelli said.

co glassceilingpics070 adler CO’s Women in Construction & Design Event Celebrates Breaking the Glass Ceiling
(From left) Karla Pascarella, Marissa Kelly, Stacey Dackson, Megumi Brod, Maey Khaled and Anita Woolley at CO’s “Women in Construction & Design” event. Photo: Aaron Adler

She was followed by the morning’s first panel, “Challenges and Opportunities for Women—Fostering a Culture of Diversity from the Field to the Boardroom.” Anita Woolley, first vice president of strategy and communications for AECOM’s construction services group, noted the benefits of “having people of different backgrounds” on staff, citing studies indicating that “diverse teams are more successful.”

Maey Khaled, director of technical services at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, recalled engineering courses where she’d frequently “be the only woman in the class” and stressed the need to foster industry participation from women at an earlier age group. Stacey Dackson, a project manager at Structure Tone, echoed that sentiment and the need to educate young women about the career opportunities available in the construction industry, citing the field’s “tremendous economic viability.”

Marissa Kelly, a project executive at Cauldwell Wingate Company, said that there is still the flawed perception that “women are too emotional to be in leadership positions” at a corporate level—a notion that “holds women back” in the industry, she said—while Megumi Brod, senior vice president and Northeast regional development officer for Rockefeller Group, urged attendees to both “be a mentor” to other women in their fields and also “make a mentor” who can help guide them through their career paths.

co glassceilingpics132 adler CO’s Women in Construction & Design Event Celebrates Breaking the Glass Ceiling
(From left) Melissa Grzymala, Helena Durst and Jane Smith at CO’s “Women in Construction & Design” event. Photo: Aaron Adler

The second panel of the day, “Women Leaders in Construction & Design—How They Paved the Way,” included the likes of Kimberly Steimle Vaughan, chief marketing officer and chief people officer at construction firm Suffolk, who cited her company’s efforts to “create a culture of inclusion” and “infuse people in the organization from different backgrounds.” Vaughan said that while roughly a third of the firm’s workforce is comprised of women, she had been to job sites where there were more women at work than men, and that diversity had become a key tenant of Suffolk’s corporate philosophy.

Melissa Grzymala, an executive project manager at Faithful+Gould, recalled a high school guidance counselor’s incredulity at her career goal of becoming an engineer, while Elisabeth Malsch, a principal at Thornton Tomasetti, noted the importance of hiring women given how they occupy a roughly equal share of the graduating classes at most higher education institutions. “If you’re not hiring women, you’re not hiring the top of the class,” Malsch said.

Jane Smith, a partner at architecture and interior design firm Spacesmith, said that “obviously things have changed [in the industry]” since she first started, and urged the conversation away from the obstacles facing women. “The women in this room shouldn’t need to worry about whether they’re women or men,” Smith said. “Let’s talk about how we can succeed.”

Helena Durst, a principal at the Durst Organization, agreed with Smith’s argument, noting that the principles being discussed on the panel “are not male or female values; they’re hirable values…. We shouldn’t be talking about maternity or paternity leave; we should be talking about child care.”

But Durst also acknowledged that her own company “has a lot to learn” and is “far from perfect” as far as gender equity in the workforce, adding that the effort to improve “starts with awareness” and “talking about biases,” as well as “looking at policies that are [both] written and unwritten.”

co glassceilingpics164 adler CO’s Women in Construction & Design Event Celebrates Breaking the Glass Ceiling
(From left) Susan Radin, Jan Hilgeman and Jennifer Bernell at CO’s “Women in Construction & Design” event. Photo: Aaron Adler

The morning’s third and final panel, “Creating the Next Generation of Women in Construction & Design,” featured Gilbane Building Company’s Brennan Gilbane Koch noting how the four previous generations of Gilbanes who led the family-led construction firm were almost entirely men—a state of affairs that has changed, given her current role as Gilbane’s business development manager. Anne Fletcher, a principal at architecture giant HOK, said that when she started in the industry she found herself not only doing “everything my male colleagues did,” but also “arrang[ing] shipping” and “answer[ing] the phone because I had the best phone voice.”

While Fletcher was recently named the new managing principal of HOK’s Los Angeles office, she also noted that she’s one of only six women on HOK’s 34-member board of directors—indicating the progress that remains to be seen in the industry.

Jennifer Bernell, executive vice president of development for Kushner Companies, discussed the challenges of balancing her role at Kushner with her responsibilities as the mother of four young boys—adding that she has been “fortunate” to have the support of her company, as far as maintaining a flexible schedule allowing her to meet the demands of being both an executive and a parent.

Susan Radin, a senior project manager at Turner Construction Company, cited progress as far as work-life balance expectations that are no longer exclusively faced by women—noting that in previous years, she “never heard from male colleagues that they had to [leave work early to] take care of their kids.”

Hines’ Hilgeman, who in addition to receiving the “Barrier-Breaker Award” also spoke on the panel, added that in her own career, she has stories about workplace harassment “not unlike what’s [been] in the news today.”

“We all have those stories, and we’re going to have them no matter what industry we’re in,” she said. “I think it’s a much broader, underlying cultural issue.”


Source: commercial

On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River

Last month, Douglaston Development threw a lavish grand-opening bash at Level, its new 40-story, 554-unit rental tower on North 6th Street on the Williamsburg waterfront. As they sipped drinks served by statuesque models in outfits bedecked with flowers, the couple hundred people in attendance enjoyed panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline from the building’s ninth-floor outdoor patio. Just to the south, towering over Level’s patio, stood the Edge and 1 North 4th—the other two Williamsburg residential towers that Douglaston has built and completed just steps from the East River.

With their gleaming glass facades rising hundreds of feet above the river, the Douglaston projects are an embodiment not only of Williamsburg’s transformation into a destination for high-end living, but of how New York City developers are more than ever recognizing the potential of building on the East River waterfront. From the redevelopment of South Street Seaport and the new projects lining Brooklyn Bridge Park near Dumbo, to the massive residential buildings rising in northern Brooklyn and Long Island City, real estate investors areto an unprecedented extentcapitalizing on the demand for apartments and offices near one of New York City’s main marine arteries.

Of course, this influx of real estate projects along the East River hasn’t happened overnight; it’s been years in the making with policy changes, like the major rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, in the last decade facilitating the transformation of those neighborhoods’ formerly industrial waterfronts.

But as developers are now springing at the chance to cash in on the rapidly evolving communities on both sides of the water, the East River has become a hotbed for architectural statements that, for better or worse, take many shapes and forms—whether it’s monolithic glass behemoths or metal-clad structures that play with angles and space in different ways.

“It’s hard to generalize about [the buildings], except to say that they’re all intended to take advantage of the riverfront,” said Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic and writer. “What we’re seeing is development that had begun in bits and pieces but is now happening more intensely. Now, it’s as if every last piece of the waterfront is seen as a potential high-end parcel.”

Goldberger noted that “there’s a huge variation in the architectural quality and the type of building” going up along the East River—a claim echoed by Justin Davidson, a fellow Pulitzer winner and architecture critic for New York magazine. “I wish, looking back, that New York had faced this issue with a more holistic sense of what kind of architecture it wanted to foster on the [East River] waterfront,” Davidson said.

What we have, instead, is a disparate and varied array of new projects that are reshaping the riverscape, and the city’s skyline, as we speak. While there are dozens of projects in the works and in various stages of planning or construction, here is a look at some of the more interesting buildings currently being built, in the order one would see them riding up the East River ferry from New York Harbor.

primaryphoto4 On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
Rendering of 1 Seaport in the Financial District. Image: Williams NY

1 Seaport at 161 Maiden Lane
Financial District, Manhattan
Developer: Fortis Property Group
Architect: Hill West Architects

At 161 Maiden Lane, Fortis Property Group is looking to capitalize on the Financial District’s emergence as a residential destination via 1 Seaport—not to be confused with the Jack Resnick & Sons-owned office building at 199 Water Street, which goes by One Seaport Plaza (the two sides settled a court dispute in 2015 over the “1 Seaport” moniker with Fortis agreeing to abandon the name after a designated marketing period).

The design by Hill West Architects deploys that most talked-about trend in New York City architecture over the past decade: the “skinny tower” popularized by the likes of 432 Park Avenue and One57. On completion, 1 Seaport is expected to stand 60 stories and 670 feet tall but will hold only 98 condo units; Jonathan Landau, Fortis’ chief executive officer, said that configuration was dictated in part by the lot’s narrow dimensions.

“There wasn’t really the option to make a wider building,” Landau said. But it was also a situation that “forced us to build a design that enabled us to capture all those great views,” he added—with Fortis and Hill West drawing up floor-to-ceiling “window walls” on the three sides of the tower facing out away from Manhattan.

In September, construction worker Juan Chonilla fell 29 stories to his death at the 1 Seaport site, leading the city’s Department of Buildings to halt work on the project. As of this writing, work at 161 Maiden Lane has ground to a standstill. The building’s concrete skeleton stands around 30 stories above the ground, and its glass facade has already begun to creep up the structure. It’s unclear, however, when work will resume.

“We’re hoping to still complete in time,” Landau said, citing the development’s “mid-2018” targeted completion date. “Unfortunately, there are tragedies like this on a site, and the Department of Buildings has to make sure all precautions are in place. But we’re certain we’ll be back up and running shortly.”

oda jayst opt8 150304 rev4 copy On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
Rendering of 10 Jay Street in Dumbo. Image: CoStar Group

10 Jay Street
Dumbo, Brooklyn
Developer: Triangle Assets, Glacier Global Partners
Architect: ODA New York

After flirting with a residential conversion of its historic 19th century warehouse, nestled just north of the Manhattan Bridge on the Dumbo waterfront, Triangle Assets and Glacier Global Partners looked to the underserved Brooklyn commercial office market in their repositioning of 10 Jay Street.

To helm the project, Triangle and Glacier tapped ODA New York, the Eran Chen-led architecture firm that is currently handling several projects along the East River (more on that later). “We found that ODA had a very unique vision for the building—a very outside-the-box type of architectural thinking,” said Benjamin Stavrach, Triangle’s director of leasing and property management. “We felt that, with the history of 10 Jay being so full of character, they were the proper architect for the project.”

Indeed, ODA harkened to the former industrial building’s history as a sugar refinery in designing the redeveloped eight-story, 230,000-square-foot structure’s most distinct feature: its glimmering, prism-like glass facade, which recalls the shape of crystallized sugar. That river-facing glass curtain wall and the preservation of features, like the original brick columns and the existing brick exterior on the building’s three other sides, were key factors in the project’s approval by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“We’re very proud of this [project],” Chen said of 10 Jay Street. “It’s one of those examples where, in collaboration with [LPC], we agreed that the historical narrative of the building has as much importance as the brick and mortar. It would be a building that would clearly separate between what’s historic and what’s the new addition and tell a story about what was there before.”

Despite some construction setbacks caused by dilapidated brick, the building’s envelope is expected to be 100 percent complete by January with a temporary certificate of occupancy targeted for early spring. Stavrach noted that the building is already 35 percent leased (to companies like advertising agency Translation and software firm Nuxeo) despite having yet to hit the market—with tenants almost certainly drawn to 10 Jay Street’s floor-to-ceiling views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, Manhattan Bridge and East River.

ext 0180 e1510179568490 On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
Rendering of One Manhattan Square on the Lower East Side. Image: Extell

One Manhattan Square
Lower East Side, Manhattan
Developer: Extell Development Company
Architect: Adamson Associates Architects

Looming over the Manhattan Bridge, in the Lower East Side enclave known as Two Bridges, stands Extell Development Company’s One Manhattan Square—the city’s largest new residential condominium development, featuring 815 for-sale units. The 80-story, 800-foot-tall building, which topped out in September, now dwarfs the century-old steel suspension bridge—a fact that does not sit well with many architecturally-minded observers.

Goldberger described the Adamson Associates Architects-designed structure as “a gargantuan, shiny glass tower that is not that different from a lot of what’s gone up in Long Island City and the West Side of Manhattan.”

Davidson, meanwhile, pointed to the “shock” of a building that makes one of the city’s “great monumental pieces of infrastructure look puny in comparison.” He described Extell’s decision to “put up a big hunk of glass” along the river in a remote part of the Lower East Side as “incredibly wasteful.”

But for the Gary Barnett-led development firm, the motivation seems clear. “Gary and Extell are always seeking opportunities to bring value to buyers,” said Raizy Haas, Extell’s senior vice president of development. “There’s very little supply and a lot of demand for waterfront properties.”

Haas offered a defense of both the project and its architecture, noting that “the initial concept was to embrace what we have, which is the water, the sky and the views.” She pointed to 45,000 square feet of outdoor gardens, designed by landscape architecture firm West 8, which wrap up to the building’s fifth floor, as well as the “earthy tone” of the materials used for the project’s podium and the dual, copper-and-silver-toned glass incorporated on alternating sides of the facade.

The building also deploys a “Z-shape” situated at an angle, designed to maximize sightlines and natural light for the tower’s future residents, as well as allow more corner units. “There’s no apartment with bad views,” Haas said. “They all have great views; the question is how great.” Residents will likely begin enjoying those views by the fourth quarter of 2018, when Extell expects move-ins to start, Haas said.

“I think the best thing you can say about it,” Goldberger said of One Manhattan Square, “is that it will be nicer to be in it, looking out.”

1 c bloomimages On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
Rendering of 420 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. Image: ODA

420 Kent Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Developer: Spitzer Enterprises
Architect: ODA New York

When Eran Chen and his architecture firm, ODA New York, were handed the responsibility of designing Spitzer Enterprises’ sprawling, three-towered, 857-unit residential complex just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, Chen knew that he wanted to do something different with the assignment.

“When Eliot [Spitzer, the head of the company,] and I met, it was clear that there is something about the building along the front of the East River that is very generic right now,” Chen told Commercial Observer earlier this year. “But the potential of living right on the East River and the openness of the views that you get are insane.”

The solution, as Chen elaborated to CO more recently, was an example of “how real estate value formulas can translate into a beautiful, fresh, new aesthetic.” Rather than simply laying out the buildings in a standard floor plan featuring only four corner apartments per floor, “We asked ourselves, ‘Can we create a tower where every apartment is a corner unit?’ ” Chen recalled. “The answer was yes.”

The shifting, block-like shapes that are 420 Kent Avenue’s defining feature are already taking form at the development site, which Chen said is moving along “exactly as planned.” The northernmost tower’s superstructure was completed several months ago and is already wrapped in its glimmering, glass curtain wall with completion slated for  the late spring or early summer of next year. The other two towers, bound by a shared podium structure, are following suit and should be done by early 2019.

As well as bringing added real estate value to the project—as Chen noted, corner units command higher rents—the design allows 420 Kent to “break the mold of the box shape” that has characterized many of the projects along the East River to date, Chen said.

“ODA really understands New York,” Davidson said of Chen’s firm. “They take all of these zoning constraints that make a lot of other architects throw their hands up and do whatever the constraints allow and really try to figure out what the zoning is looking to achieve and work within that. I think if everybody took that approach, we’d have a much nicer city.”

325 kent credit shop architects On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
Rendering of 325 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. Image: SHoP

325 Kent Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Developer: Two Trees Management
Architect: SHoP Architects

After years of planning, Two Trees Management’s massively ambitious redevelopment of the former Domino Sugar Refinery is finally taking shape—most notably through 325 Kent Avenue, the 16-story rental building comprising the first piece of the developer’s plans for a sprawling mixed-use complex just north of the Williamsburg Bridge.

The 505-unit property is the smallest building on the site, according to Two Trees Managing Director David Lombino, which gives one an idea of how big, exactly, the Domino Sugar redevelopment will be. Yet it is the SHoP Architects-helmed design, which features a prominent aperture (i.e., enormous hole) in the river-facing facade and clads the building in copper and zinc, which is the most impressive indicator of where Two Trees intends to go with the project at large.

Lombino said that Two Trees charged SHoP with a mission to reject the type of “very mundane, glass residential buildings topping out at 40 stories” along the waterfront—“buildings that had very little to do with the neighborhoods they were in and had their backs to them, in many cases.”

By design, Kent Avenue is “built to the same scale” as the landmarked brick refinery building next to it. Moving away from the waterfront, the building “slopes down to the neighborhood as an attempt to meet scale”—going from 16 stories to five by the time it reaches Wythe Avenue.  

As for that aperture, “it lets light and air pass between the waterfront and the neighborhood behind it,” Lombino said. “You can see Manhattan from Wythe Avenue and from Berry Street and Bedford Avenue” further inland. It also functions as “a clever way to bring natural light to our tenants” and is an architectural flourish that Two Trees is using at all of the new buildings on the site, Lombino added. “That was a statement about the wall of glass development that’s happening [in Brooklyn] and our desire to treat both sides of the river with equal respect.”

The building is nearing completion and has already started leasing on a rolling basis with part of the property opening this past summer and all construction slated for completion by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Two Trees is already pouring the foundation at 260 Kent Avenue—the 40-story, COOKFOX-designed mixed-use tower that will be the next piece of the Domino Sugar puzzle.

“I think this is an example of an area where the developer is thinking about all of the pieces as they relate to the whole,” said Davidson, who noted that Two Trees has worked extensively with the Department of City Planning and the LPC in designing the project and getting it approved. “There is some civic and urban thinking going into this project, which makes it different from most others.”

urbandevelopment 145west hero day 110716 On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
Rendering of The Greenpoint at 21 India Street in Brooklyn. Image: Neoscape

The Greenpoint
Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Developer: Mack Real Estate Group, Palin Enterprises, Urban Development Partners
Architect: Ismael Leyva Architects

Greenpoint is witnessing its fair share of transformation these days, but nothing compares to the 39-story, 605-unit residential tower at 21 India Street that bears the neighborhood’s name. The 400-foot-tall structure, currently being built just steps from the banks of the East River, promises to change the game entirely.

Mack Real Estate Group came into the project “a little late,” according to Richard Mack, the company’s co-founder and CEO. He recalled how original plans by Palin Enterprises and Ismael Leyva Architects—while “very beautiful as conceived”—didn’t address market trends that have seen increased demand for “smaller rentals and larger condos.” So Mack and his director of development, Gary Davis, redesigned the 95 condo units at the top of the tower to be larger, while scaling down the rentals at the tower’s base. “We thought it would be more economical for renters and more spacious for buyers,” Mack said.

While most would be hard-pressed to argue that The Greenpoint fits within the existing context of the neighborhood given its sheer scale and imposing glass facade, Mack and Davis both contend that they tried to make the building “more contextual” by paying homage to the area’s industrial past. So they altered the color of the glass and introduced brick and steel elements—“Like you would see in a Tribeca or Soho warehouse,” Mack said—to the building’s podium.

“We said, ‘Let’s make it feel industrial and give you the sense that you are in an industrial building,’ ” Mack added.

Davis noted that “there are going to be lots of towers along the [Greenpoint] waterfront in the coming years,” and given the plans currently being drawn up by developers for nearby parcels—as well as the 10-building Greenpoint Landing residential complex also under construction up the street—it appears that the area’s waterfront is slated to experience a building boom similar to Williamsburg’s just south.

“It is a harbinger of other things to come,” said Goldberger. “We’re basically using every piece of waterfront we can find.” He noted that, while many builders attempt to tip their cap to the neighborhoods they are transforming, oftentimes such efforts merely paper over sizable changes to the aesthetic fabric of the community.

“I think it does what a lot of buildings have done, which is make a few minor gestures to the neighborhood that are maybe even disingenuous,” Goldberger said of The Greenpoint. “They’re trying to have it both ways.”

2017 03 626 first ave 03 e1510179332883 On the Waterfront: The Architecture Reshaping the Face of the East River
The American Copper Buildings in Murray Hill. Photo: SHoP

American Copper Buildings
Murray Hill, Manhattan
Developer: JDS Development Group
Architect: SHoP Architects

With projects like 111 West 57th Street on Billionaires’ Row in Midtown and 9 DeKalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn currently in the works, JDS Development Group has justifiably earned a reputation for pursuing the kind of supertall, luxury residential developments that make a point of redrawing the New York City skyline.

But for the American Copper Buildings at 626 First Avenue between East 35th and East 36th Streets in Manhattan, JDS head Michael Stern had to take a different approach—thanks to zoning requirements that included a height limit and a mandate that, whatever JDS built there, it would have to touch the ground at specific locations on the site.

“We challenged SHoP [the project’s architect] to come up with something that would be architecturally dynamic but not upset the applecart of the existing zoning,” Stern explained. “With the height limit, there was no way to fit the floor area in one tower. It would have been more efficient to build one tower, but we’re very happy with where we ended up.”

The Murray Hill project winded up taking the form of two copper-clad, angular towers standing 41 and 48 stories each, one set back further from the river than the other, and both bound by a 100-foot-long sky bridge connecting the 27th through 29th floors. The copper exterior that lends the towers their name was proposed by SHoP. “It’s not cheap, but they did a great job engineering and procuring it,” Stern said. “It came out really spectacular.”

Today, the American Copper Buildings are virtually complete with finer touches set for completion by the end of the year. About half of the buildings’ 760 rental units are leased and occupied, Stern said.

“I appreciate that they’re high-rise buildings that are not exclusively glass,” Davidson said. “They’re using a material that has a long New York history and that will change as it ages. Materials like stone, brick, terra cotta and copper, when they’re cladding high-rise buildings, respond to time.”

Goldberger also praised the architecture and described the towers as “quite elegant,” albeit “a little bit of a gimmick.” He noted, however, that “on some level the top of the Chrysler Building is a gimmick as well—but it’s also brought us joy and pleasure for 90 years.”

“There’s nothing wrong with architecture that has the ability to catch your eye as you’re going past it,” Goldberger added. “I do find, whenever I pass it on the FDR Drive, that it holds my attention. Part of good architecture is providing a certain amount of visual entertainment.”


Source: commercial

Under Construction: DNA Development’s ‘Jewel Box’ on West 48th Street

When DNA Development acquired a seven-story Midtown parking garage from Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Company for more than $37 million last June, it knew that, despite the site’s relatively limited, roughly 32,000-square-foot footprint, it had a prime piece of Manhattan real estate on its hands.

“Some may have looked at [the property] and said it’s too small,” according to Alexander Sachs, one of the firm’s principals and co-founders. “We looked at it as an opportunity to build what we’re building.”

What DNA is currently building at the site at 12 West 48th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas—just one block from Rockefeller Center and at the southern edge of the vaunted upper Fifth Avenue retail corridor—is a four-story “jewel box” retail project featuring an unorthodox, concave glass facade by Ennead Architects. The angular design of the facade is meant to attract foot traffic from the nearby avenues and—with 75 feet of street frontage—provide retailers with the kind of branding opportunities worthy of a flagship location.

“The facade is designed as a double facade—a layer [of glass] can be [installed] immediately behind it,” said Peter Schubert, a partner at Ennead. “It could be a real asset to whoever takes the building; you can put lights behind it, or blinds if you want to develop a level of exclusivity. It’s something that can be constantly rebranded over the life cycle of the building.”

With nearly 31,000 square feet of space being built from the basement level up to the fourth floor (plus a private roof terrace), the “jewel box” is designed to be as flexible as possible with the ability to serve one or multiple users as either retail or office space (though the ground floor, with its 19-foot-high ceilings, beckons for a retail user). While DNA would ideally be able to attract a single tenant to the location, that layout means that the landlord has ample options for tenanting the property.

“We made the building very flexible so we can do retail on the ground floor and offices on the three floors above,” Sachs said, describing the space as potentially suiting “a company that might want to have their offices above their retail brand.” Schubert noted that the private rooftop terrace presents a “real opportunity for a boutique office” user, should they opt to take the top floors of the building.

While both Sachs and Kenji Ota, who is handling leasing at 12 West 48th Street alongside Cushman & Wakefield colleague Neil Seth, declined to provide asking rents at the property, both said they hope the location appeals to tenants looking for an upper Fifth Avenue presence at a more affordable price point.

“It’s a real value play,” Ota said. “It’s a significant decrease from where Fifth Avenue or Rockefeller Center rents would be.” Ota added that the location’s 30,000-square-foot retail footprint is “hard to come by in Rockefeller Center,” adding to its appeal for tenants seeking to establish a significant presence in the area.

Work on the “jewel box” is well underway with the foundation around two-thirds finished and structural steelwork set to begin before the end of November, Sachs said. The project is slated for completion next spring, with Sachs betting that the property proves a draw even in a struggling brick-and-mortar retail market.

“I think it’s an opportunity, not a hindrance,” he said. “Retail is resetting, [but] every brand has a different goal with their retail spaces. We provide an opportunity that’s more accessible and value-oriented than being directly on Fifth Avenue.”


Source: commercial

The Plan: A Look Behind AOL’s Live-Streaming Production Facility

AOL’s production facility on the ground floor of 692 Broadway was created so that the company can live-stream concerts and interviews with stars, including actors, directors, musicians and the like, while allowing passersby to watch.    

Watch, but don’t touch.

To protect the celebrities—Sofia Vergara, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tom Holland are a few that have stopped by since it opened in January—architecture firm Mancini Duffy crafted a two-window pane system. The first is the traditional window on the exterior of the 1903 building; then it installed a special bulletproof window wall behind that one.

“One of [AOL’s] concerns was safety for the talent that was in there, so they wanted to create a barrier,” Scott Harrell, a principal at Mancini Duffy, told Commercial Observer. “Visually from outside you don’t know that it’s there.”

Before the three-floor, 13,412-square-foot studio opened in January, general contractor Quest Builders completely demolished the space, formerly home to Major League Baseball’s MLB Fan Cave (which shutdown in 2015 after four years). Quest stripped down the walls and the ceiling slabs to open up the studio, which has exposed 13-foot high ceilings.

Mancini Duffy designed the studio to accommodate about 40 people. And it also has a movable metal platform that can be expanded or shrunk depending on what AOL wants. The architecture firm sprayed the ceilings and beams black to blend in with AOL’s lighting grid system.

There are two green rooms, where stars can do their makeup, have snacks or prepare before they are on stage, and there is a photo shoot area as well. Mancini Duffy also enlarged the restrooms from three to seven single-occupant rooms.

Although AOL allows pedestrians to view recordings from outside, the space does have some studio space that can’t be seen from the street.

Construction workers cleaned an existing staircase that leads to a basement area, where Mancini Duffy created a lounge for parties that can hold up to 45 people. It’s an open space with a bar and residential-style lounge seating, rugs and wallpaper crafted by interior designer Apartment 84. There is also a VIP section behind the main lounge.

And above the studio space, there is a mezzanine section that has a dozen office stations for the staff, an editing room and a pantry and bar that overlook the studio.

To fit the computers necessary to run the studio equipment, Mancini Duffy had to redesign and triple the size of a server room, which was about the size of a closet, and the firm put audio and control rooms in the basement. It was tough, Harrell said, to install all of the technology among critical infrastructure systems, such as ductwork and sprinklers, and make sure not to leave a tangled mess.   

“We crammed all of that stuff into a small amount of space,” Harrell said. “The challenge was the infrastructure, because they are using technology heavily [in the production facility].”


Source: commercial