Square Feet | The 30-Minute Interview
Scott E. Spector
By VIVIAN MARINO
Mr. Spector, 46, is a principal of the Spector Group, a midsize architecture and design firm with offices in Manhattan and Woodbury, N.Y.
The company — founded by his father, Michael Harris Spector, in 1965 — has completed more than 1,000 projects.
Q. How has your firm been affected by the downturn?
A. We’ve been fortunate that business is steady. A lot of that is attributed to some of the larger projects that we won a year and a half to two years ago — projects like Christie’s, the auction house, out in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The bigger work can sustain the group through bad times.
Q. How is the Christie’s project coming along?
A. It’s coming out just beautifully. It’s a great adaptive reuse of an existing building — an old factory — that we’re retrofitting to a high-end art storage facility. That project has taken a good part of this office a year and a half to work on, and now we’re in the throes of construction. Come December, it’s finished.
Q. This new warehouse will hold worksby Monet, Picasso and other renowned artists. What will security be like there?
A. It’s the James Bond of security, tracking the flow for customers, vendors and the employees.
Q. Is your firm involved in any ground zero work?
A. Some of our bigger projects that we’ve been nurturing downtown — the whole ground zero redevelopment — are now coming to fruition. You see steel going up down there. There are 100 peripheral buildings feeding off that whole facility.
We’re working with Brookfield Properties — it’s one of our landlord relationships — on multiple projects that accommodate goings on with ground zero. There are different strategies, for example, associated with the Winter Garden. There’s an entrance pavilion piece there that has to work with the Port Authority. It’s a variety of different tasks.
Q. What has been your most enjoyable project?
A. Definitely the most fun project is the Nasdaq Stock Market. We’re doing some work at the market site right now, which is at Times Square, more signage-related on the outside.
We’ve had Nasdaq as a client for eight years, and we have done everything. We’ll change a light bulb for these guys. We’ve done projects in Washington, London, Beijing. We put together a standards program for all their interiors worldwide. That includes furniture systems and all the architectural elements you see in a given space.
We did 1500 Broadway. They were originally going to move there — taking five floors — and they ended up staying downtown after it was finished. So we sublet all of that space. We did all the design work for the tenants — those were the ultimate prebuilts.
Q. Do you do a lot of prebuilts?
A. We’re doing a lot of these turnkey built-to-suits. We’ll be the buffer between the landlord and the tenant.
Q. The Spector Group is also involved with the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum project, an eco-friendly development featuring a new arena, hotel, office space and residential units. What’s the status of the project?
A. They’re getting through the environmental-impact issues right now. I think the financing piece is going to take its time. But it’s going in the right direction.
Q. How would you define your style?
A. We’re a Modernist firm.
Q. Is the future in your industry in sustainable design?
A. Yes. Everyone is going to be sustainable. You’re going to see, in my opinion, building owners almost require it. We have a bunch of LEED projects in the office right now, and it is costing more today, but it won’t in two to five years. The sustainable characteristics will already be inherent in every material. All the furniture systems — everything.
Q. Did you always want to be an architect?
A. Freshman year at the University of Michigan, I studied sports medicine, because I was an athlete in high school. But it became apparent I was better in physics than organic chemistry.
My dad was a huge influence. I was doing construction when I was 16 on sites that he designed. I was digging ditches and cleaning clay off foundations. When I was younger, we used to say, Dad’s going to take us to visit the dirt. He was the developer’s architect on Long Island. We visited a lot of dirt.
Q. Do you want to be a “starchitect”?
A. No, we don’t need to be a starchitect. Most of the starchitects’ spaces leak. We don’t let them leak.