6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the Midtown offices of architecture firm COOKFOX. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
When COOKFOX Architects started looking for a new office space three years ago, it was a no-brainer that they’d incorporate their signature biophilic tools, but their one non-negotiable requirement was outdoor space to connect employees directly with nature. And though the firm has come to be associated with so many contemporary projects, they found their ideal space on the 17th floor of the 1921, Carèrre and Hastings-designed Fisk Tire Building on 57th Street. Not only did it offer three terraces (that the team has since landscaped with everything from beehives to kale), but the large, open floorplan allowed the firm to create their dream wellness office.
6sqft recently took a tour of the space to see how employees utilize the space day-to-day and learn more about how COOKFOX achieved LEED Platinum and WELL Gold status by incorporating natural materials for finishings and furniture, temperature control systems, lighting that supports healthy circadian rhythms, and, of course, plenty of connections to nature despite being in the middle of Midtown Manhattan.
Modern companies understand that in order to attract and retain the best talent, they have to compete on more than salaries, vacation, and healthcare. Companies like Google, WeWork, Pixar, and Facebook are well known for providing workspaces that inspire creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Clive Wilkinson, the architect of Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, is quoted as saying, “75 to 80 percent of America is cubicle land. Cubicles are the worst – like chicken farming. They are humiliating, disenfranchising and isolating. So many American corporations still have them.” Modern office designs are the opposite of closed off, fluorescent-lit cubicles- they are open with natural light and little, if any, suggestion of hierarchies.
In addition to designing workspaces that inspire creativity, these modern companies also providing perks like free food, drink, and recreation to entice employees. So what are some of the best practices in designing offices for people’s emotional health and productivity? And what other perks do companies have to offer to attract the top talent?
Here’s what companies are offering up
It’s been almost a year since the first lottery launched at Webster Avenue, COOKFOX‘s two-building affordable and supportive housing complex in the Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx. Four months after the lottery went live for the 227 units at Park House, nonprofit developer Breaking Ground reported that they’d received a staggering 55,163 applications. Now, they’ll need to get ready for another influx; as of today, the lottery is live for the second building, Webster Residence. Here, single New Yorkers earning 60 percent of the area median income, or between $25,000 and $40,000 annually, can apply for 80 $675/month energy efficient studios.
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COOKFOX Architects released new renderings this week of its five proposed high-rise buildings in Hudson Square, part of the redevelopment of St. John’s Terminal into a nearly two-million-square-foot complex of housing, retail and office space. As CityRealty learned, the design calls for an industrial-meets-earthy design with deftly sculpted towers detailed with geometric setbacks and planted terraces. Located near Pier 40, the proposed buildings will hold a total of 1,586 apartments, with 30 percent of them below market rate, office spaces, a hotel and about 400,000 square feet of retail.
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Photo of 535 Carlton Avenue, courtesy of Max Touhey for Greenland Forest City Partners
In July 2016, the lottery opened for 298 mixed-income rentals at 535 Carlton Avenue, part of the sprawling Pacific Park complex, in Brooklyn. But now, more than a year later, about 95 units remain vacant at the Prospect Heights site, as City Limits reported. Despite over 93,000 New Yorkers applying for the nearly 300 units within just eight weeks, the applicants were rejected because they did not make enough money to qualify for those specific units. The 95 vacancies, the most expensive apartments at Pacific Park, are reserved for households that earn between 135 and 165 percent of the area median income, which translates to $74,606 and $173,415 annually. Unable to secure tenants for this income bracket, developer Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP) placed advertisements for the units on market-rate real estate websites.
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Since its founding in 1990, COOKFOX Architects has become one of the most recognized names in New York City real estate. In the firm’s early days, founding partner Rick Cook found a niche in historically-sensitive building design, looking for opportunities to “[fill] in the missing voids of the streetscape,” as he put it. After teaming up with Bob Fox in 2003, the pair worked to establish COOKFOX as an expert in both contextual and sustainable development. They designed the first LEED Platinum skyscraper in New York City with the Durst family, the Bank of America Tower, then took on a number of projects with the goal of designing healthier workplaces. The firm also got attention for its work in landmarks districts, winning AIA-New York State awards for its mixed-use development at 401 West 14th Street (better known as the Apple store) and its revamp of the the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. (The firm also made it the first LEED-certified theater in the city.)
6sqft’s conversation with Rick fox here
260 Kent; rendering courtesy of COOKFOX
Two Trees Management will break ground next month on 260 Kent Avenue at the corner of Grand Street and Kent Avenue, the second building to rise at the Domino Sugar Williamsburg megaproject site. Designed by COOKFOX Architects, the 462,000 square-foot, 42-story mixed-use tower on the site of the former sugar manufacturing facility will create “a prominent visual corridor that leads to the East River waterfront,” according to a press release.
Find out more, more renderings this way
Over the summer, L+M Development Partners demolished the former Financial District flagship of J&R Music and Computer World to make way for a 54-story, mixed-use condo tower at 25 Park Row, just across from City Hall Park in an area quickly becoming a more vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood. Site excavation is now well underway for the 700-foot building, reports CityRealty, who also uncovered several new renderings and zoning diagrams of the COOKFOX-designed project that show its slab-shaped body made of masonry and glass, mid-level terraces, Art Deco crown, and elegant residential base.
MORE ON THE PROJECT HERE…
It’s been almost two years since architects COOKFOX were selected by developer Greenland Forest City Partners to design two residential buildings at their Pacific Park Brooklyn project, the 22-acre site anchored by the Barclays Center and containing eight million square feet of mixed-use development. COOKFOX took the helm for 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, a 275-unit condo, and 535 Carlton Avenue, a 298-unit affordable rental. A housing lottery for the latter will open tomorrow, according to a press release, offering low, moderate and middle-income residents the chance to apply for apartments ranging from $548/month studios to $3,716/month three-bedrooms.
Find out if you qualify
Last month, 6sqft reported on the COOKFOX-designed development Park House, the first phase of a two-building affordable and supportive housing complex in the Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx. Since then, the 12-story building has topped off and foundation work is quickly moving along for its adjacent fraternal building dubbed the Webster Residence. The development is being pushed forward by Breaking Ground, a non-profit committed to ending homelessness. This development will be the organization’s first venture in the South Bronx.