Inspiration From Afar

May 1, 2008

NEW YORK CITY - The design team of Perkins+Will and WB Engineers has completed COFRA Group's new 30,000-square-foot office on the 29th floor of 277 Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Designed to meet gold-level LEED-certification standards, the project is the subject of an application submitted to the USGBC by Perkins+Will.

The new office for the Switzerland-based conglomerate will house the COFRA Holding AG division, in addition to four other companies that fall under the COFRA Group umbrella.

Perkins+Will served as the architect and WB Engineers designed the M/E/P (mechanical/electrical/plumbing) components of the project. Cauldwell Wingate was the general contractor.  

"The design of COFRA's new space was inspired by the company's Swiss roots," says Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, LEED, design principal of Perkins+Will. "For example, the central parson's table concept, which symbolizes balance and proportion, relates to the centrality and importance of the kitchen/pantry area in both the country's and the firm's cultures. This is a key design element, repeated throughout the space."

The office's green elements include:

The use of glass partitions to make use of natural light; 30 percemt of the glass system is made from post-consumer recycled material. In addition, glass marker boards and LED (light-emitting diode) task lights are featured throughout.

Displays of Sage Glass and Q-Cell Technology, which are sustainable energy products in which COFRA invests.

Linoleum flooring, made from all-natural components, used in the kitchen.

Guest seating made from recycled wool.

Locally sourced green wood paneling.

Recycled denim used in the space's insulation.

Water saving fixtures in all areas.

"The project posed an interesting challenge because we had to incorporate green M/E/P design elements into an office in a standard commercial building, with existing traditional systems," notes Robert Andersen, senior associate at WB. "We reduced the loads to the building's HVAC system by configuring an automatic shading system responsive to solar loads as well as designing the interior variable volume air system distribution to provide more precise zoning. In addition, the lighting control design included a daylight harvesting system to minimize electrical lighting loads."

"It was a challenge designing one office space for five separate companies with varying groups' work cultures and styles," notes Ms. Blumenfeld. "As a result, certain aspects of the office are flexible. For example, we installed a boardroom with custom designed tables and a wall partition, providing the option to change the one large room to two smaller conference rooms."

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