A Biophilic Design Studio Designed for Wellness in a Historic Office Tower

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A Biophilic Design Studio Designed for Wellness in a Historic Office Tower

Architects: COOKFOX Architects
Project: COOKFOX Architects Headquarters
Team: Bethany Borel, Sue Biolsi, Dan Brammer, Hilary Catterall, Rick Cook, Zach Craun, Zach Gryzbowski, Leila Hirvonen, Jean Li, Brooke Rahmanan, Darin Reynolds, Mark Rusitzky
Location: New York, United States
Area: 20,184 sf
Year: 2017
Performance Rating: LEED Platinum, WELL Gold

Nestled among the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan are the historic jewels of Automobile Row, the fashionable towers built by companies like B.F. Goodrich and General Motors. CookFox set out to design their new design studio on the 17th floor of the tiered 1921 Fisk Tire Building in New York as part of an office relocation. This 20,184 sf, Class A commercial office space needed to demonstrate best-in-class design strategies and act as a showcase for the architectural firm’s capabilities. Further, the project needed to bring the company’s ethos and methodology to life for every employee. The project would be the firm’s most powerful recruiting tool. A biophilic design studio designed to join three landscaped terraces in an expression of our mission to connect people to nature within the built environment.

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Entry is defined by a formal gallery hall, its expanse of exhibition walls and rhythm of concrete beams establishing a sense of focus and groundedness. Through a second portal, the reception area with a domestic scale of materials and furnishings, features a low-ceiling area of refuge that gives way on either side to the full height overhead. This compression point transitions the axis of circulation to an east-west orientation, anchored by framed views of the gardens at each end of the open studio.

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A garden and hydroponic towers on the east terrace are adjacent to an interior dining area is designed to facilitate creative social communion and connection to nature. Across the studio, the west terrace, a landscape of native trees, wildflowers, sedums and grasses incorporates outdoor meeting areas. With a third viewing garden, the three terraces incorporate plants and soil transplanted from our former studio, continuing a decade of care for the former rooftop garden.

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Connections with nature outdoors extend into the studio space in the use of natural materials and textures for interior finishes and furniture selections that stimulate similar positive biological responses. The lighting system prioritizes daylighting to support healthy circadian rhythms, while high-quality air filtration, zoned temperature control, CO2 monitoring and use of low-VOC materials to ensure the best possible indoor air quality. The studio was certified LEED Platinum and WELL Gold as a measure of these strategies.

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