High Tech Client SoHo Workplace
Located on the prominent corner of East Houston and Lafayette Streets in Soho, our client’s new workplace establishes a new kind of presence in New York for the company. Highly visible from the street, the design captures the energy of SoHo’s rich and layered history while showcasing its creativity to the neighborhood. A catalyst of innovation, community, and a vibrant urban life, the new workplace is an extension of WRNS Studio’s West Coast work with the client.
Our client wanted employees and visitors to feel like part of a community, engaged in the broader dialogue spurring innovation in New York. In response, the project calibrates public and private modes, evoking an academic ecosystem. The new workplace connects to the surrounding community via public-facing offerings, such as a flexible, multipurpose space that hosts customer and public events while serving as a maker space and learning lab for employees to experiment and collaborate on new ideas. With retractable walls, the multipurpose space expands easily into adjacent shared spaces, such as a multipurpose theater space that welcomes up to 120 people at a time. The multipurpose space is located on the second floor (the largest floorplate), and is directly accessible from the street and lobby.
A variety of flexible, interconnected spaces expand and contract to accommodate both focused and collaborative work. Inspired by the traditional university library, the researchers’ workspaces are partitioned by “stacks”–millwork constructions designed to house personal libraries, whiteboards, and storage. The mixture of wood, books, soft lighting, and “found” nooks, evoke academia, while patterning a forward-leaning environment where advanced thought flourishes, with adequate visual and acoustic privacy for sustained, focused work. The office program is organized around a dynamic communicating stair and the extensive exterior terraces to create a sense of connection and easy flow between different floors and work modes. Employees gather and dine on the building’s sixth floor, where a casual tea room opens up onto a large wrap-around terrace. The tea room is outfitted with a variety seating types and tables that can be easily reconfigured. Additional meeting rooms and informal social spaces throughout the building provide a variety of choice as to where to think and create.
Materials knit this workplace together, from inside out. Extensive use of cherry wood creates a tie to the adjacent and highly visible brick façade of the Puck Building while helping to make the space feel like a warm “heart” as experienced from the street. The other major material is a rough concrete tile, which wraps the core and connects with the urbanity of the area. The communicating stair, made of blackened steel and stainless steel cable, evokes the cast iron buildings and fire escapes that distinguish the neighborhood, home to so much creativity over the decades. Interior design and urban placemaking merge in this new workplace, creating a unique innovation environment that could only happen in SoHo.