The Fab Five
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Actual shops are but one component of the work at SHoP Architects. The acronym actually refers to the last names of the firm's family of five principals, who met at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation: There's William and Coren Sharples, husband and wife; William Sharples's twin brother, Christopher; and a second married couple, Kimberly Holden and Gregg Pasquarelli.
One of SHoP's early major commissions, back in 2001, was a 5-acre waterfront development in Greenport, New York—complete with carousel. Now numbering 75, the firm finds itself designing chairs one day, a Virgin Atlantic Airways clubhouse at John F. Kennedy International Airport on another, and a master plan for Guragon, India, the next. On both micro and macro levels, SHoP's prowess in the application of digital technology truly shines. "We can design an entire building with virtual modeling," Coren Sharples says. In fact, the opening page on SHoP's Web site reads: "Use technology to build practice, see practice as technology."
SHoP has also been a pioneer in partnering financially with the developers of the residential buildings it designs. "We often go beyond our fee structure by sharing in real-estate deals—and the risks, too," Christopher Sharples explains. Sometimes that means finding the site, purchasing the air rights, and developing the economic model, even before the developer signs on.
Current New York projects include four condominium buildings and a schematic design for the East River waterfront. And is there a forward-thinking firm not working in Asia these days? SHoP's café, bookstore, and exhibition space in Seoul, South Korea, is complete. A mixed-use complex in Beijing should be done in time to ring in the New Year.