Oculus - Fall 2016 - 31

Authenticity + Innovation: Architecture Repurposed ©LEESER Architecture ©LEESER Architecture and we felt there needs to be a design that is not just a run-down old factory, but has energy," he says. "We wanted it to be dynamic and contemporary." A new pair of dramatically angled, origami-like steel staircases form the centerpiece of the renovation. They weave together the space's three levels, which contain a mix of private offices, communal worktables, conference rooms, and other amenities. Near each staircase are kitchens and seating areas, to promote social interaction. The outside walls of the staircases are cloaked in eye-grabbing Yves Klein-blue paint - a color chosen to contrast strongly with the muted browns and reds of the original architecture. Inside the staircases is vibrant teal paint, with matching rubber tiling underfoot, edged with glowing bands of LED lighting. On the ground floor, the teal path also extends along the floor to link the two staircases, bringing clarity to the circulation. The LED lines appear elsewhere, too, tracing the angled forms of a kitchen countertop or outlining the volumes of communal spaces like "3D drawings," as Leeser describes it. The unexpected forms of the staircases and the LEDs intentionally bring a jolt of surprise. "There's this sense of otherness," he says, "something new." Small alterations to the existing architecture were needed to cut the staircases through and add a skylight, but the design team otherwise left the existing structure almost untouched, out of respect for its beauty and a desire to emphasize the contrast with the staircases. Initially, the slick, contemporary elements were a hard sell to the client company, which had in mind a more homey vibe in keeping with the company slogan "At Home At Work." Coworkrs CEO Shlomo ©Keziban Barry ©Keziban Barry (opposite page) Brightly colored stairs outlined with LEDs connect the three floors. (left) A kitchen outlined in LEDS reflects the angularity of the stairs. (above left) A new skylight brings natural light to communal work tables in the basement level. (above right top) One of many communal "hangout" spaces. (above right bottom) A glass-enclosed conference room anchors the second floor, lined with enclosed offices. Silber recalls, "We had many debates. It took me a long time to warm up to a lot of the ideas Leeser wanted to do." But they managed to strike a delicate balance with welcoming touches like large, comfortable couches offsetting the sleek, sculptural elements. "We were able to work together so I could add my little flavors, and he could add his 'shock elements,' like that staircase," Silber explains. As a result, it's "a very interesting space, not just your standard industrial Brooklyn space." Since the Gowanus location opened in January 2016, the positive response from Coworkrs' customers has helped validate the choice to take design risks. "I haven't met anybody yet who has walked through the space and hasn't been wowed by it," Silber says. For a fairly small, low-budget project, it has also drawn a surprising amount of media attention from around the world, Leeser says. He attributes the design's success not to the new elements alone, but to the deliberately strong contrast between the new and old. That "tension" boosts the design's impact: "The contrast is exactly what gives it energy," he says. < LISA DELGADO is a freelance journalist who has written for e-Oculus, The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Blueprint, and Wired, among other publications. Client: Coworkrs Architect: LEESER Architecture Design Team: Thomas Leeser, RA, Simon Arnold, RA, Anja Misic Pavlin Structural Engineer: Structural Engineering Technologies M/E/P Engineer: Guth DeConzo Consulting Engineers General Contractor: Titan Realty & Construction Fall 2016 Oculus 31

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2016

First Words Letter from the President
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Authenticity and Innovation
Civic Purpose Repurposed: Brooklyn
Civic Purpose Repurposed: Bronx
A Study in Contrasts
WeLive on Wall Street
A Preservation Paradox
Industrial Strength
Innovation Rooted in History
In Print
97-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover1
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover2
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 3
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 4
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 5
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 6
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 7
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 8
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 9
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 10
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 11
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 12
Oculus - Fall 2016 - First Words Letter from the President
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 14
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Letter from the Editor
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 16
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 17
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Center for Architecture
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 19
Oculus - Fall 2016 - One Block Over
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 21
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 22
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 23
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 24
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Opener: Authenticity and Innovation
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Civic Purpose Repurposed: Brooklyn
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 27
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Civic Purpose Repurposed: Bronx
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 29
Oculus - Fall 2016 - A Study in Contrasts
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 31
Oculus - Fall 2016 - WeLive on Wall Street
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 33
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 34
Oculus - Fall 2016 - A Preservation Paradox
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 36
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 37
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Industrial Strength
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 39
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 40
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 41
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Innovation Rooted in History
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 43
Oculus - Fall 2016 - In Print
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 97-Year Watch
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 46
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Last Words
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 49
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 50
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover3
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover4