Messana O'Rorke
206 West 17th Street Apartment / Workspace

206 West 17th Street

206 West 17th Street Apartment / Workspace

206 West 17th Street Apartment / Workspace

New York, NY

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206 West 17th Street Apartment / Workspace

206 West 17th Street Apartment / Workspace

New York, NY

The Weinstein loft/Concrete Brand Imaging Group workspace in New York City explores conditions and artifacts of recent modernity at several scales, from the architectural to the designed object. The hybrid program -- work/live space -- is a recent phenomenon, which was triggered in part by communications technologies. For a time there was talk of the disappearance of centralized or common spaces for labor. But contrary phenomena -- including the rising importance of the "brand" or image for institutions and entrepreneurial entities (and thus for architectural statements), and the enduring draw of age-old urban spaces of human contact in which work was traditionally situated -- have ensured that the workspace has not disappeared. But what has resulted is a relaxing and reinventing of the terms and codes of what constitutes both "work" and "living" spaces.

The site is a 5,600 square foot loft whose previous tenants had appropriated the unpolished light-industrial and manufacturing spaces of a bygone era for their domestic use. Of particular interest to us was that the client's program would return labor -- albeit high technology and image-driven labor -- to these spaces. Additionally, the client is a collector of highly valued mid-century design objects, and we were to integrate these interior objects into our planning. We were intrigued by the complexity of these objects as icons of corporate America, as early 21st century collectible signs of cultured domesticity, and as evidence of explorations of the mid-century designers in expressing and utilizing industrial processes. We conceived of a design, which would take as its conceptual point of departure the ambiguous, and multiple possibilities of the space and its furnishings.

We sought to evoke the ghost of the less precious manufacturing/industrial legacy of the spaces. Ceilings have been left open to the exposed pipes. The concrete flooring becomes a unifying plane, which preserves scar-like traces of untold former uses beneath a film of urethane. This forms the field underlying both home and office zones.

Translucent pocket doors, 2 1/4 inches thick and 10 feet high, provide the primary vertical division of the loft into home and office spaces. They reinforce the ambiguity of definition between the zones, as the luminosity of the doors ensures that any separation of the two is always partial. Functionally, the series of spaces upon entry welcome both residential guests and business partners. The array of mid-century objects and furnishings are themselves ambiguous in connotation -- they can be understood equally as appropriate office reception objects and highly personal living room tchotchkes.

The workstation area is more distinctively zoned for the brand imaging business functions. The space is defined by a row of 26 Knoll credenzas, which we fused into a single architectonic element by affixing a laminate surface of our own design. This symbiotic creation defines the space, provides work, presentation and display space, and can be used as an extension of the spaces for meeting and entertaining.

For all its dual functionality, the loft preserves a private inner sanctum, which can be hidden away behind a sliding door that appears to the uninitiated as a wall. The master suite and its spa-like bath maintain an open plan, and thus serves as a miniature, secluded loft in its own right.