A Clear Visionary
Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 11/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Donald Brinkmann wasn't flashy, and he didn't have to be. the New York–based Gensler design director brought understated virtuosity and a sophisticated sense of materials to his commercial and office projects. His work spoke for itself. "Don made strong, bold architectural statements," managing principal Robin Klehr Avia recalls of her colleague, a 1991 Interior Design Hall of Fame inductee.
His 1988 Capital Bank branch in Miami exhibits both dexterity with materials and mastery of form and space. At the mezzanine level, glass-block walkways surround a square atrium on four sides, while the glass-block drum of an adjacent stairwell is a classic Brinkmann gesture: throwing a curve into an otherwise rectilinear plan.
Overall, the dazzling composition combines clear planes and glossy surfaces. Bordering the walkways are laminated-glass balustrades, supported by suspension rods and capped in stainless steel—the barriers' transparency offset by massive columns clad in flamed gray Sardinian granite. Elsewhere, white-lacquered partitions demarcate work areas.
"Don knew how to plan and detail a project like nobody I've ever seen," says founder and chairman Arthur Gensler. "Capital Bank is one of the most beautiful examples."