INTERIORS CASE STUDY:
Midtown Magic: Haworth’s flagship showroom shines green with touches of red
Were collaboration to be the gold standard of green design, Perkins + Will (PW)/Eva Maddox Branded Environments, Turner Construction, and Haworth have struck it rich. This team, responsible for numerous corporate properties and showrooms for Haworth, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of office furniture, has worked together since their association began during the 2003 economic downturn. Looking to develop a more purposeful and comprehensive business model that aligned its spaces with its strategic objectives, Haworth turned to PW and Turner, which had established an international presence in many markets and a track record in sustainability. “The concept,” says Haworth facility design manager Ken Brandsen, “was to learn from each other in order to influence all of our businesses more positively.”
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The strategy worked. The team has certified or registered seven LEED projects, achieving Silver or higher ratings for Haworth manufacturing facilities and Gold ratings for showrooms. The team’s concepts have found full expression in Haworth’s newest showroom on Park Avenue at 42nd Street in New York City. Located on the second floor of a 1923 landmark building, this “flagship” showroom, conference facility, and office features a broad range of workplace concepts, integrated product applications, and green strategies.
Older buildings present both design and sustainability opportunities and challenges. In this case, according to PW project manager Leonard Temko, the building’s age and history forced an awareness of what it presented in terms of an asset or a resource. “This was a space that was so clearly ignored in terms of what it could be that we had a real opportunity to reclaim it and convert it into a world-class environmental experience that would extend the Haworth brand.” Principal Eva Maddox added that the project team felt an added responsibility because of the building’s high profile in New York City. “It has a beautiful terra-cotta brick facade, and we wanted to do something that would acknowledge its importance.”
It was the two-story arched windows, however, that inspired the design solution. The ceilings had been altered to partially obscure the windows, and the 31,000-square-foot space was very dark. The showroom plan evolved to engage with the building’s structural grid. A 30-foot-high center gallery reaches to the deck and serves as the entry, conference, and presentation area. All furnishings are movable with the exception of the reception desk, and the space can be converted to serve many functions. Re-exposed windows provide substantial daylighting and wonderful views. Lowered ceiling areas on each side provide more intimate spaces for conversation, offices, and specialty functions, such as the wood salon and sustainability lab, both of which help Haworth promote its green practices to clients and visitors.
Haworth products—its movable walls, raised-access floors, and modular furniture—are used to great advantage and enable many of the green achievements. The access flooring—cleverly integrated off the slab-level elevators with well-placed step-ups—helps lower energy use by making room for the installation of a new energy-efficient air-handling unit, which enhances indoor-air quality, ventilation, and thermal comfort. It also facilitated moving the men’s room, which for programming and code reasons needed to be relocated, without a lot of expensive demolition to the existing slab.
All furniture is made by Haworth, Greenguard-certified and with FSC-certified woods. Other interior finishes and fixtures, such as the cork flooring, carpet tile, plumbing fixtures, and surfacing materials, meet the highest environmental standards. Occupant ventilation and task-lighting control is provided at each workstation.
Working with Turner Construction eased the way toward achieving the project’s other sustainability goals, including an anticipated LEED-CI Gold certification. John Thomann, who heads Turner’s interiors group in New York City, credits the 15 percent of Turner’s staff who are LEED APs, as well as his organization’s familiarity with Haworth’s philosophies and products and PW’s modern-design aesthetic. “Our collaboration has been ongoing,” he states, “but with this project it came together in a healthy, mutually beneficial, and unique way.”
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