Contract - November/December 2010 - (Page 52)

design brooklyn baroque Evan Douglis uses the latest computer technology to evoke a grape arbor in a casual neighborhood restaurant Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., he presides over a major research facility, and this reinforces his own passion for fusing art and technology. He uses the computer to generate unique environments and create modular elements that can be produced in quantity and recombined in different ways. For example, the hexagonal tile of the Choice ceiling was cast from a CNC-milled mold, using a non-toxic fire-tested green polymer, and it can be custom produced in any color or finish. The chandeliers also are available as a product. “Rather than sketch the light fixtures, I fabricated a prototype to show the client,” says Douglis. “The swirling tiles were inspired by the chef’s French pastries, and the chandeliers, which I call ‘Moon Jelly,’ suggest a translucent jell emerging from the cones.” It also emerged from a year of research into pneumatic structures and the ways that a sphere of blown glass bifurcates as it collides with a cage of piano wire. Diners gazing up from their salads and panini may see little more than a shimmer of highlights and a sparkle of glass, but the experience of dining here is subtly enhanced by the richness of the moldings. “People come in and their jaws drop,” says William Ruggiero, the property developer. “Choice has put our building on the map, and we were nominated for a James Beard Restaurant Award. Evan gave us an extraordina design and his sensibility meshed with ours in a ve productive way.” By Michael Webb Photography by Michael Moran “The best restaurants are senso theater, full of associations,” says architect Evan Douglis, “but this can be realized in a subliminal way.” At Choice, a casual restaurant in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, the spectacle is overhead. Douglis employed computer so ware to create a richly molded ceiling, illuminated from bubbles of blown glass that are suspended like bunches of grapes from a trellis. A dark metallic umber tone provides the old-word character the clients requested, but the swirling relief surface was generated by the latest computer so ware. The apparent complexity is an illusion, for it is based on a single hexagonal tile, cast from a mold. Douglis describes the ceiling as “an excitable cloud” that doubles as a functional plane, with apertures for lighting, sprinklers, and speakers. Choice seats 65 and was created from 3,000 sq. . of retail space at the corner of a new apartment tower. The existing concrete floors were sanded and given a glossy polyurethane finish. Walls and structural columns are clad in a Chinese stone that resembles petrified wood, and the blocky tables and benches are walnut. The ceiling is outlined with recessed cove lighting in a warm tone of fluorescent, which illuminates the laser-cut, stainless-steel letters attached by magnets to a Corten menu board. A fretted metal screen was designed to shade the windows, but the owners were in a hur to open the restaurant and this feature has yet to be installed. Douglis has won acclaim for his galle installations and for Haku, an award-winning Japanese restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which was subsequently sold. As Dean of the School of For a project source list, see page 64 or visit 52 contract november/december 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - November/December 2010

Contract - November/December 2010
Editor’s Note
Focus: Suspended Reality
Palette of Time
House of Sweet Dreams
America’s Lounge
A Fine Winery
Mexico City Materialism
Risqué Business
Brooklyn Baroque
Reading on the Walls
Trends: The Real Social Network
Designers Rate: Lounge Seating
2010 Brand Report
Ad Index
Perspectives: Anurag Nema, Nemaworkshop

Contract - November/December 2010