Suburban office parks designed in the 1980s face challenges when competing with other desirable properties in their markets. To reposition and refresh these buildings, some architects are borrowing ideas from cutting-edge hotels and restaurants.
Bringing to bear its extensive experience in the hospitality sector, integrated design firm Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design (JZA+D) added a dash of hotel and restaurant flair for the recently completed redesign of common spaces at 506 Carnegie Center, part of an office campus in Princeton, N.J. The results have redefined the cafeteria and courtyard as a social center and major amenity, bolstering the ability of tenant companies to compete for and retain talented employees, many of whom prefer a more urban social experience.
Emphasizing transparency and natural daylight, and introducing natural finishes, asymmetric forms, and a full-height plant wall installation, the updated cafe seating area accentuates a specific connection to the adjacent patio and seasonal bar — a welcome departure from the space’s previous closed-in feeling. A mix of lighting fixtures interact with varied furnishings to offer choices of experience: globe pendants highlight booths, for example, while domed fixtures generate warmth around arrangements of contemporary lounge seating.
At either end of the space, occupants find counter-height communal tables built from rough-cut, large-format timber slabs. JZA+D worked with the manufacturer to specify slabs with rich grain texture and live edges asserting the natural form of a tree.
The patio itself has been reinvented as an events space, even a destination. The space features two brand-new structures: a square bar pavilion for events covered by an overhanging slate roof, and a barbecue kiosk with a wood trellis cover that neatly echoes the exposed floating wood beams overhead in the cafe.
“Introducing design ideas from the hospitality sector helped us deliver a fresh, timeless sensibility while reinvigorating the shared amenities,” says Joshua Zinder, AIA, founding principal of JZA+D. “The updated cafe and terrace brings a ‘pocket of urbanity' to this suburban location, adding value for our client and their tenants—and the tenants’ employees."
He adds, "The design reflects the desire for authenticity and for 'urban lifestyle experiences,’ both of which are trending in popularity among emerging workforce demographics.” For more information visit www.ccsullivan.com.