David Weinberg Joins WRNS Studio in New York

David Weinberg Joins WRNS Studio in New York

David Weinberg has joined WRNS Studio as our New York studio Director of Interiors. With a focus on developing partnerships and growing new markets, he will join WRNS Studio’s national practice and expand our reach in New York City.

We spoke with David about joining WRNS Studio and got his take on interior architecture.

What are you excited about in the world of interior architecture right now?

Interior architecture, particularly the workplace, is at an inflection point. We look at our commercial environments and continually assess user and operator needs for today and tomorrow. We ask ourselves, what is the value of an office? Today’s objectives are divergent depending on the audience. Covid and work-from-home taught us that the workplace requires recalibration–it is a destination, not an obligation. Today’s knowledge worker can perform anywhere at any time. However, engagement and, more importantly, innovation, is best achieved via live interaction, ideation, and collaboration. While the past few years saw a rise in productivity, we also witnessed a demise in innovation. As architects, we recognize how interiors and placemaking can be leveraged to achieve intrapersonal engagements. Successful workplace is a task-based setting for purposeful gatherings.

New York was the first city to experience the brunt of the pandemic prior to the national shutdown. And in some ways, we may be one of the first cities to emerge from the pandemic. Highways and public transportation have returned to pre-2020 numbers. This gives us an incredible opportunity to interpret a workplace for the future. People aren’t tethered to their office; they have choices. Knowledge workers want variety, flexibility, and inspiration. They want the physical space to connect, motivate, and engage. This is not about interiors but context, experience and architecture. How are buildings meeting the street? How are people invited to enter and use a building’s lobby? What is the sense of community among landlords and tenants? Our built environment must become more hospitable and robust in functionality to be appreciated. It’s an exciting time to work with clients and explore new expectations and experiences.

How would you define your approach?

Our clients have day jobs; at times, their ability to identify their needs may be challenged by internal and external forces. In response, my approach begins with investigation, exploration and discovery. As architects and placemakers, we achieve the best results when we lead clients on a journey of discovery and self-realization. This process helps them articulate and define their objectives; it also ensures trust and confidence in decision making. As process navigators and problem solvers, we do best when clients can focus on consensus building, examine new considerations, and define flexibility and adaptability. We encourage internal communication, trust, and collaboration among different work groups. This approach allows opinion sharing and establishes a framework for goals and project objectives.

How do you know when your approach has worked?

This is different on every project of course. A successful process can be defined as an idea, mission, or objective being realized in a physical space that people enjoy and want to take care of over time. If it’s a healthcare project, successful spaces enable wellness and recovery and inspire care and well-being. In an educational or research project, good environments encourage engagement, exploration, and learning. Successful design activates the function and connection. It goes beyond the user experience and enables a physical and emotional attachment. A common objective creating spaces that are flexible, seamless and frictionless.

How are you talking to clients about sustainability?  

As we engage in and share best practices, we must consider materiality. As architects and designers, we regularly investigate new products, new techniques, and new technologies. As problem solvers, we seek opportunities to integrate innovation when appropriate. For example, carpets can be equipped with optical fibers to denote movement and learn walking patterns. It’s a fantastic material for senior living facilities. There are light fixtures made from mycelium, a biofabricated material. Lampshades made from mycelium can be fabricated without glue and additives.

How we think about materials and how they are sourced is so important and enables us to align our design and specifications with our client’s ESG initiatives. Does a product come from recycled waste? Was forced labor involved in its sourcing and manufacturing? How does its performance enhance the environment? Our curiosity about material is an absolute necessity.

To end on a more personal note, why did you become an architect?

Architecture has been part of my lexicon since I was five. With my first set of Legos, I investigated symmetry, massing, alignments, and the simple joy of building. This evolved into an appreciation for art and music. In high school, I attended a summer program at Cornell University, Introduction to Architecture. That experience affirmed my commitment to architecture. I know how hard it can be for kids to focus on finding the right profession. I believe architecture can inspire and motivate if kids are introduced at the right time.

Since college, I’ve been interested in talking to students about considering architecture as a career. I’ve led several classroom demonstrations and introductory talks to middle and high schoolers. For the last 12 years I’ve interviewed prospective high school students for Cornell’s architecture program. It’s a wonderful way to give back to my alma mater and my profession.