Going For Growth
Wayne Turett creates a suitable setting for TMA, a firm providing the space and tools for the advancement of start-up technology companies.
Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 9/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
The Who's Who Doing What is rather complicated, so it might as well be cited right at the start. Wayne Turett, principal of Turett Collaborative Architects, is the project's designer. His client is TeleMedia Accelerator, self-described as a for-profit enterprise created to provide seed funding, space, infrastructure, and professional services to accelerate the growth of new companies in the broadband and e-commerce sectors—an already abbreviated designation which Turett neatly contracts into "incubator for start-up firms." A privately funded endeavor initiated by the New York City Investment Fund, TMA takes up a full 22,000-sq.-ft. floor in a City University of New York building. (The institution's students are seen as potential candidates for TMA learning programs.) It was the common, i.e., shared, core sector now delineated with a (mainly) curvaceous border wall that made up Turett's turf for action. The outlying offices, just about innumerable since they can be conjoined or subdivided, were put into basic move-in condition by the designer; tenants usually import their own architects for design of their offices. Their design schemes, one may safely assume, invariably differ greatly from the "nurturing environment of invention" and "future-focused lab" created by Turett.
A summary description pegged to an imaginary walk-through would start with the sight from the lobby to the lozenge-shaped reception desk. Set against a tangerine wall bearing the ceiling-projected company logo, the lacquered-wood unit is topped with a green clear acrylic counter. Here and elsewhere, walls are brushed with diffused light emanating from bands of lamps. Looking to the right, the eye is attracted to a congeries of green/orange-tinted acrylic boxes. Each is differently sized and formed, all have rounded corners. They carry silk-screened tenants' names, collectively composing a colorful floor directory or collage of calling cards. Still standing in the straight corridor—the rest of the core's circumference is undulant—the visitor sees "conversation alcoves," a.k.a. think tanks, furnished with banquettes and perforated steel tables at either end. An inverted bollard, freed of mooring lines, serves as overhead light. At this point in the reconnaissance tour, the strolling sightseer will also have become aware of the pervasive whiteness of walls and floors, accounting for the aforementioned lab effect.
Diagonally opposite at the inner layout's corners are small and large conference rooms, the latter furnished with a 14-ft.-by-5-ft. table surfaced with honeycomb plastic sandwiched between frosted glass and acrylic sheeting. The centerpiece comes apart longitudinally, allowing each narrow half to be rolled against, and fastened to, the wall. Thus cleared, the room can be used for special events. In its smaller counterpart, the tabletop, set on a powder-coated steel frame, is scored with a wide band of enameled whiteboard for drawing or doodling. The adjustable halogen ceiling light is described as both industrial and futuristic; round, squared, and elongated interior windows can be seen throughout. There are, of course, no perimeter windows. In the lounge/pantry, a large porthole appropriately seems to frame the balloon-shaped Louis Poulsen pendant hung inside. The great wall encircling the core is sectional, each part capped with glass doors at slightly overlapping ends of its parts. Termini of the three-sided serpentine are next to the twin think-tank alcoves.
Asked for a wrap-up comment about the job, Shari Ford, manager of TMA, says she particularly likes the spaces' "futuristic effect," endorsing also the choice of colors. Asked whether the euphemistically dubbed "changed economy" and altered investment climate conceivably could affect her program, she replies with an emphatic no. For start-up technology companies, she implies, the TMA program has no time limits. Turett and his associate Virginia San Fratello, acting as project manager and designer, completed the work in less than four months at $72 per square foot. Assistant Anke Obermaier also is accorded credit.