In some of the first conversations we had with our client, we all agreed that while people typically associate The Nature Conservancy with large tracts of unspoiled wild land, their NY office in particular was just as much of an urban operation that devotes a great deal of eff ort on strategies to promote the value of healthy ecosystems within cities.
The building TNC chose for their new home is a classic 1920’s industrial loft. We decided to base our design on directly accepting this history while adapting it to their needs. We therefore exposed the ceilings end exterior walls throughout, kept the floor plan largely open, and contained all shared functions, like conference rooms and phone booths, into three plywood-clad “boxes” that float as objects within the space. By carefully placing these “boxes”, we created hierarchies of spaces to give the TNC teams individual areas while still maintaining cohesiveness of the overall experience of one large shared space.
The biophilic design element of The Nature Conservancy’s NY office centers on a two-story tall Ficus Amstel King tree that reflects the focus TNC is placing on urban trees. The tree grows out of a massive custom designed planter integrated into the reception desk, whose crown opens through a large opening we carved through the floor above. Flooded with two stories of southern light and supplemented by full-spectrum grow lights, the tree is the heart and symbol of the office. Additionally, forty-three mobile planters hold a variety of tall indoor plants which serve as screening for open work desks, clean the air, and add visual richness to the space.
The terrace at the top of the stairs and directly off the café has several large outdoor planters that, during the growing season, will support a kitchen garden. Composting bins to manage organic waste which are returned to the planters as fertilizer to complete the nutrient cycle throughout the year.
Carpets are adhesive-free recyclable Interface floor tiles, all paint is low VOC, and all acoustic treatments are EzoBord products made from recycled plastic bottles. All plywood used for cladding the “boxes” is FSC certified to be from sustainably-managed forests. Desking systems are modular and can be easily reconfigured. The outdoor terrace includes composting bins, so organic waste can be recycled and used to fertilize the outdoor kitchen garden and the indoor plants and tree.
The HVAC system is a multi-zone heat pump split system with a supplemental Energy Recovery Ventilation component that can adjust its energy use depending on the independent needs of nineteen different zones. This increases occupant comfort, minimizes energy usage, allows for some zones to cool while others are dormant or provide heat, and saves space by eliminating large runs of bulky traditional ductwork.
Team: Ate Atema, principal; Chris Alker, senior architect; Kristen Turner, strategist; Eugene Tan, senior designer; Mark Fagan, designer
Our client is a global non-profit venture capital firm who came to us looking for a work environment that supported their horizontal, collaborative organizational structure, but had a more focused, relevant identity, all the while keeping costs modest, focusing on sustainable design principles, and allowing them to take much of their brand-specific elements with them in the future.
The space we worked with was provided to Acumen by one of their investors on very favorable terms, but with two caveats: 1) that the investor could repossess the space in a few years with relatively short notice, and 2) that we use their construction specifications wherever possible on built-in, non-movable items. Since we were developing a brand ID specific to Acumen, this became the inspiration for what we would term the Nomadic Project, whose Nomadic Elements would provide high visual richness and specific branding impact for relatively low cost, designed so they could be easily removed and reused in new future locations. These elements ended up including: the "Saffron Wave" backlit ceiling canopy, whose main components were cut off-site by a CNC mill, then painted, assembled, and installed by a combination of client and architect labor; the fabric ceiling-hung panels; and the custom reception and dining area furniture made of blackened steel and reclaimed antique hear pine.
Team Ate Atema, principal; Amy Campos, project manager; Kasia Ehrhardt, Ryan Bemberg
Photography: MIchael Moran
Office space in collaboration with Joel Sanders for a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students.
Team: Joel Sanders, Ate Atema, Principals; Sabina Peci, Project Manager
Consultant 01: Fogarty Finger, Architect of Record
General Contractor: SRS Construction
Photography: Peter Dressel
TED, best known for the influential TED Talks website, curates and facilitates the sharing of innovative ideas around the globe using new media and technology. They challenged us to envision what an office for the information age could be, and their motto: “ideas worth spreading,” became the DNA of our design.
As technology increasingly adapts to people rather than the other way around, we wanted to create a work environment that better supports physical well-being, which in turn supports the mental well-being that is key to good idea-creation and sharing.
The typology of the Theater emerged as a highly appropriate “heart” of the office. Their conferences are a form of theater, and as spaces designed for flexibility and idea exchange, theaters reflect TED’s mission beautifully, so we put a black-box theater-in-the-round in the middle of their office. The Theater serves simultaneously as “town square,” reception lounge, and informal work space, and is easily transformed into a presentation space where they host regular talks.
The physical office is less a fixed sequence of programmed spaces with a definable image than a transformable, process-driven, “soft” environment. Central spaces are defined by curtains or glass walls. Furniture is arranged to define team areas, but otherwise work areas are wide open to support TED’s collaborative culture. We developed a custom desk and other furniture in collaboration with Steelcase to clearly define each person’s space and provide options for privacy within a small footprint.
The design accommodates a range of body positions and encourages moving between them. People can choose to work seated in a chair at a desk or reclining in a lounge chair, and each team has a shared adjustable-height table for seated or standing meetings. A coffee bar next to the kitchen allows for informal standing meetings, and a loft tucked above a free-standing conference room is perfect for idea-inspiring naps.
Team: Ate Atema, principal; Carl Mahaney, project manager; Julia Savastinuk
Photography: Michael Moran
Our client is a global non-profit venture capital firm who returned to us following the end of the lease on the first office we designed for them.
We continued the Nomadic Project direction established in Acumen 1.0 including the "Saffron Wave" backlit ceiling canopy, whose main components were cut off-site by a CNC mill, then painted, assembled, and installed by a combination of client and architect labor; the fabric ceiling-hung panels; and custom reception and dining area with dark stained hardwood and colorful cushions.
Team: Ate Atema, Principal; Angie Co, Project Manager; Li Qiu, designer
Consultant 01: Fifield Piaker Elman, Architect of Record
This office is the headquarters for Endeavor, a leading global impact investment fund, who was seeking a home for their international family of investees, fellows, board members, and alums. Beginning with the great bones of McKim Meade & White-designed building's fourteen foot ceilings, huge windows, and trapezoidal floor plan; discreet rooms or "buildings" were inserted into the landscape of the space that create a dialogue between the old and new architecture. Bold colors and custom light fixtures brand the space and tie it all together.
Team: Ate Atema, Principal; Carl Mahaney, Project Manager
Consultant 01: Robert Derector Associates, MEP Engineer
Consultant 02: JAM Consultants, Expediting and Code Consulting
Custom Fabrications: Material Process Systems
Furniture System: Herman Miller
Custom Furniture: Nada Debs, NR Wood
General Contractor: Quest Builders Group
Photography: Fran Parente
Team: Ate Atema, principal; Eric Cheong, designer; Nina Gotlieb, designer; Courtney Rice, designer
Consultant 01: MEP Engineer: Robert Derector Associates
Consultant 02: MEP Engineer: Gabor M. Szakal Consulting Engineer, P.C.