When we first walked into what would become our new office space, on the fourth floor of a building overlooking Union Square, the space was bare concrete from floor to ceiling with only raw structural columns in place. 

And yet, in the midst of the crumbling gray, we could see the potential. With large windows overlooking the bustling greenmarket below, the space sits right at tree level, allowing for a sense of nature no matter the season and flooding the interior with natural light.

Our goal was to give the office a residential feel and be a place that our clients, our  collaborators, and our staff could come to feel welcome, to work, and to be inspired.  Ultimately, we wanted our new space to serve as an evocative backdrop for the architectural and design work we are doing all over the country.

When you first step off elevator, a 19th century plaster medallion in the entry vestibule, discovered in Palm Beach, sets the tone for what is to come inside the office. Warm wood floors and crown molding line the entry, which is filled with elegant antique furniture, along with architectural prints, drawings, and paintings that have been collected by Gil and the firm over the last 20 years.

Ionic pilasters guide you into the main reception and conference areas, anchored by an elegant faux bois fireplace mantel, decoratively painted by Agustin Hurtado, at one end of the space and with a comfortable seating group of antique furniture and a luxuriously deep 13′ long custom sofa at its center.  This part of the office was designed to evoke the comfort and elegance of a residential living room rather than the functional efficiency of a typical office waiting room.

We designed mahogany bookcases for one of the conference rooms and we worked with the English company  Soane to make the counter-weighted pendants that hang over each of the conference tables. The large glazed doors between conference rooms, made by Raydoor and which can pocket fully into the walls, providing both transparency and privacy.

Gil’s own office is the firm’s most personal space on the floor, reflecting his particular interests and years of collecting.  An antique leather chesterfield sofa and burlwood parsons table desk dominate the room, while the walls are lined with paintings and a beloved collection from the last 40 years of contemporary architectural drawings which includes works by Zaha Hadid, Leon Krier, Robert Venturi, Michael Graves, Bernard Tschumi (a former mentor of Gil’s), and renowned 20th century Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund.  A wall of windows along one side of the room is lined with cabinets crowded with objects from many years of traveling and collecting, while another wall conceals full height cabinets behind an ever-changing multi-panel inspiration board.

The rest of the office is organized with a natural flow so that the individual workspaces and offices flank the firm’s extensive library, which runs the length of the entire floor, a floor plan decision that feels particularly appropriate since Gil often says it library is the foundation, or backbone, of the firm. Custom bookshelves fitted with brass-framed labels hold thousands of historic and contemporary architecture and design books, all of which are relevant for the firm’s practice and referenced daily.

The work spaces of the office are defined by individual architectural and interior design studios which are accessed off the central library “spine” that extends the full length of the floor.  The studios are separated by low walls of pin-up board and capped with of large window sashes which extend up to the ceiling and give both acoustic privacy and visual openness to the floor and underscore the collaborative nature of our work. The whole light-filled space has a collegial atmosphere, which has always been a hallmark of our process over the last 17 years.

Interior Design by G. P. Schafer Architect
General Contracting by S. Donadic Inc.
All Photographs by Eric Piasecki
Styling by Anita Sarsidi