Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 7/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Watch enough reality TV, and you start to believe that a sonorous voice, a pretty face, and a lot of chutzpah are enough to land you a job in network television. The reality, though, is that securing an on-air spot on CNN or NBC generally requires the services of a top-notch manager to champion your cause and negotiate your contract. Execs at Napoli Management Group, which represents broadcasters and reporters, know firsthand that image, while important, ultimately takes a back seat to performance.
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects applied exactly that lesson to NMG's Los Angeles headquarters, originally a nondescript brick structure set among modernist 1950's buildings in Beverly Hills. Principal Lorcan O'Herlihy was charged with carving out the client's own 2,850-square-foot office in the one-story rear portion of the building, plus a tenant space in the two-story front section.
Although compartmentalized into a warren of offices, the existing interior had good bones and clean proportions. A little poking around revealed a series of blocked skylights as well as a sawtooth ceiling that zigzagged up to 14 feet.
O'Herlihy gutted the building, setting out to dispell a few Beverly Hills myths along the way. "This town has the cliché reputation of being very opulent but rather unsophisticated architecturally," he says. Not so NMG's progressive new digs.
Transparent partitions separate private chambers from an open central area, allowing staffers visual access to one another. A staggered wall of steel-framed acrylic and walnut-framed laminated glass, for instance, defines a run of three private offices at the rear. Anchoring one end of the row, the office of president Mendes Napoli features a walnut-wrapped box entrance that juts 3 feet into the open central area. Further distinguishing the president's office from its neighbors is the translucent privacy film applied to the lower half of the glass front.
O'Herlihy repeated the film treatment on the building's rear box windows, their ipé frames projecting 2 feet past the white-painted plaster facade. "The frames are a play on TV screens," says O'Herlihy. "It's a metaphor for the media, where information is presented in layers."
Translucency also plays a part in the open central area, where workstations' acrylic panels surround a chic informal lounge. For seating, the architect mixed a leather-upholstered chair, Bror Boije's swivel seat, and a wool-upholstered sofa—all grouped around Ola Rune and Eero Koivisto's bent-birch coffee table on a bright orange wool rug.
The staff kitchen is tucked behind O'Herlihy's double-sided walnut storage system, 8 feet high and 14 feet wide. On the public side, facing the main entrance, shelves proudly display a video archive of NMG clients, and a series of three television monitors plays the tapes in rotation. What better way to showcase the talents of the next Tom Brokaw or Diane Sawyer?