Blurring the boundaries
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 5/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Regardless of the weather forecast, it's inevitably a foggy day at the New York headquarters of Third Point Management Company. And that has nothing to do with meteorology. A haze prevails even on the sunniest mornings, thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass walls sandwiching optical film that blurs anything above or below eye level.
Credit Cho Slade Architecture for the farsightedness of the design, which resolves the investment firm's seemingly irreconcilable needs. "They requested an open floor plan—but also a measure of visual and acoustical privacy," principal James Slade explains of the dilemma posed by the 4,000-square-foot space.
Hence the view-control film, which preserves a clear field of vision within a 50-degree angle but obscures activity at close range. In the case of the 90-foot-long wall of tempered laminated glass that separates reception from a perimeter run of offices and a conference room, guests have out-of-focus views of employees at work, while a 24th-floor panorama remains clearly visible beyond. "The film edits the view as you walk through the office, creating a phenomenological sense of space rather than a sculptural one," says Slade.
Other materials reiterate the play of luminescence and opacity. An iridescent acrylic surfaces the custom table in the conference room and file cabinets in the corridor between reception and work areas. Juxtaposed planes of low-iron and regular glass separate the south-facing offices. Flooring in the elevator lobby and kitchen is sanded aluminum; metallic woven vinyl anchors reception, corridors, and the open work areas. Overhead, a fluorescent-backlit double layer of stretched, heat-shaped PVC softens noise and disguises AC ductwork, which Slade channeled down the center of the ceiling.
"The surfaces were inspired by op art, paintings that seem to vibrate as you stare at them—and sometimes reveal hidden shapes," explains Slade. "Our design toys with perception, affecting your sense of the space according to your position within it." Good thing that Third Point values imaginative thinking. It's hard to work here without having your head in the clouds.