Vornado is a real estate investment trust that invests in office buildings and street retail in Manhattan. For the past few years, Vornado has been transforming the midcentury PENN 1 to an “office building of the future” by redefining what it means to “work” in The PENN DISTRICT.
Some highlights of this renovation include: ‘The Landing’, a soon to be open, full-service restaurant with private dining rooms, multiple tenant lounges for socializing and working, ‘WorkLife WellBeing’, a 35,000 sq. ft. fitness and wellness center, ‘WorkLife Meetings’, a 20,000 sq. ft. conferencing facility and ‘WorkLife Office Suites’, over 80,000 sq. ft. of adaptable workspace. The exterior renovation for this location is also nearing completion with significant upgrades, including full facade painting - changing the buildings’ mullions from silver to black.
We were lucky enough to be a part of this renovation when we were asked to create a custom mural for the stairway connecting two different levels within the space. In our initial discussions, the client made it clear that they were looking for warm geometric colors that would blend into one another, helping to break-up the bi-level space and give a sense of dimension throughout the interior. With a palette of rich blue/greens and warm, cherry-orange tones already present elsewhere in the space, they wanted a piece to seamlessly blend their palette and create a striking background that would stimulate patrons and perhaps even help increase their productivity.
When assessing the space and determining how to approach the design, there were a few things I had to take into account. These considerations are not just central to this project, but also to nearly all of my commercial & residential jobs.
There is a narrow sweet spot in design that exists between creating something striking & impactful but also soothing & easy on the eye. One of my biggest challenges as a designer is threading this needle and being able to weigh all the different elements of a space in order to create something that coexists amongst them seamlessly. How do I create something that is going to stimulate productivity without being distracting and overly-busy? Based on the instructions for the multi-level space, this struggle was a crucial point of contention for this custom mural.
Another challenge of this project was due to the number of transparencies and texture details within this custom artwork. It was crucial to make sure everything blended well and had perfect alignment and symmetry without looking “flat”. Using geometric shapes to create a world of dynamism was the end goal and after a few moderations, we were able to achieve a look and feel that was both graphically complex yet easy on the eyes.
While I have played with smaller scale geometrics in my work, this project was an opportunity to realize a giant scale of overlapping color forms. This piece was all about BALANCE...balancing color, balancing line weights, balancing forms...it was an amazing exercise in being able to successfully bridge all three of these things together.
Being the first time working intimately with the team at A+I, I really appreciated their conceptual approach to the project and how they considered every detail. It was an extremely rewarding experience getting to not only work together but also bounce ideas off each other until we got it just right. I welcome and look forward to the opportunity to get to work with them again in the future!
Have a design in mind? Looking to make your space more restorative & inviting? Contact the studio today either via email or by phone at 718-207-9587, we'd love to discuss your next project.