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by David Winzelberg
Published: December 7, 2012
Long Island Business News

Marc Spector, along with his brother Scott, lead Woodbury-based Spector Group, the prolific architecture firm founded by their father, Michael, 47 years ago. The award-winning company has completed over 1,500 projects in 12 states, five foreign countries and on four continents. It serves a global clientele with offices in Manhattan, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and Mumbai, India; and affiliates in London and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. One of its next projects will be close to home. Spector is part of the redevelopment team recently chosen by Nassau County to transform the area around the Nassau Coliseum.

How will design play an important role in the redevelopment of the Nassau Hub and the Coliseum? The design is broken up into two particulars. There’s master planning, which is the overall site and componentry associated with the site, and determining the highest and best use for the location, circulation patterns, anything that’s related to a master plan, and obviously you’re looking at that from 30,000 feet looking down. As that begins to develop, architecture then gets created for each particular use. Now the uses for this particular site are still in discussion. The purpose of having the county put out [a request for qualifications] instead of [a request for proposals] was to work with the community and work with the county collectively to determine what actually is going to happen on that site. So it’s a little different from what the Lighthouse project was, which was an RFP. It was a much more intelligent move to select a qualified team without any preconceived notion of what’s going to be put on the site.

What effect does the idea of sustainability have on building design today? Sustainability is everything. All the work that comes out of Spector Group has a sustainable component associated with it no matter what. Different projects require a different level of sustainability. Ultimately, we are moving in a direction where you’re not going to be required to have LEED certification. It’s just going to be the norm that you’re going to develop a sustainable, green building.

How has the economic downturn affected your business? The downturn affected everybody’s business, no matter what industry. The Spector Group, because we are so diverse in the different buckets of business that we operate in, we weathered the storm fairly well. When one particular project type dipped, others went up, so we maintained a balanced equilibrium for both the Long Island office and the New York City office.

Did the company downsize? We absolutely became more efficient. I think the downturn taught businesses that you can survive better with less. We have since replenished and have actually been hiring additional people through 2012, so our staffing levels are the highest they’ve been since 2009.

Is the green building movement a bunch of hype or a real shift in how things are constructed? It’s absolutely real and in the market and it’s something that we strive to do, but everybody’s become better at it. The contractors understand green building technologies more than they did in prior years, so there’s not any substantial markup at this point. Everybody is used to it, so it’s much easier.

More than anyone else, engineers and architects have firsthand experience with the usually laborious permitting process here, which you’ve said is the largest obstacle in getting more design work on Long Island. What can be done to speed things up? We’re so heavy in terms of levels of approvals in these different municipalities it’s hard to get anything built. Levels of government slow the process down. There is no master lead agency that can grant approval of a large project. Larger projects that are the game-changers on Long Island get caught up in municipal approval and risk dying on the vine just because we can’t get off the dime. That needs to change. I think that the larger projects should be governed differently. If you’re doing a large project in Nassau or Suffolk counties, the county executive of those two counties should have a say in the process.

So then you’re in favor of having the state Department of Environmental Conservation be the lead agency for projects of regional significance?
Yes, but only for large projects of regional significance that have too much local emotion affecting decision making.

How do you feel about allowing certified professionals to approve plans and do pre-building inspections to take the pressure off building department staff? We’re the architect for building approvals in the Town of North Hempstead. We’ve been doing it for years. We expedite approvals for the town and it’s worked beautifully for those coming in seeking approvals. Rather than something taking 14 or 16 weeks, we turn it around in two weeks. We have helped the system move forward and helped the town get through its inventory of projects that want to get built. If other places adopted this, it would help the smaller developer, builder or homeowner get through the process. Again, the much larger projects, it wouldn’t apply to. But for the bread-and-butter projects, the municipalities should supplement most of the work with private engineers and architects.

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Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announced today, November 20, 2012, the team selected for the Nassau Hub Project.

A development team headed by Donald Monti, Renaissance Downtowns, has been chosen to redevelop the 77 acres surrounding the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Brooklyn Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner has also been selected to assess the aging Coliseum and provide an optimization report to the county on how to best market the facility.

Also joining the team is Scott Rechler, RXR Realty, who will partner with the master developer, Renaissance Downtowns and Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate services company.

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When Scott Spector was hired to design new offices for Pernod Ricard USA, he was provided a creative challenge. The producer, importer and marketer of spirits and wines wanted the ambiance of a distillery in all 67,525 square feet of its new space.

The location the Westchester-based company rented to consolidate some of its Purchase employees, along with those from its current 401 Park Ave. S. offices also wasn’t in some funky warehouse in TriBeCa or Williamsburg, but on the 16th, 17th and 18th floors of 250 Park Ave., a 21-story architecturally distinct building near Grand Central Terminal. The 20th floor was also leased for future expansion.

What architect Spector, head of The Spector Group has designed proves you can make anything look like something else.

“It will have a real kind of vibe, and we are shooting for platinum LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] status,” Spector says.

The new-classical, 1924-era building, originally designed by Cross & Cross Architects for Postum Cereal Company – predecessor to General Mills – was renovated in 1986. Other upgrades have since been made to various infrastructure and mechanics. The building has both Energy Star and LEED Gold ratings.

“The green ratings are a recruitment piece and a retention piece, and from a marketing standpoint, it doesn’t hurt” says Spector.

Pernod Ricard’s space is almost finished being fitted out with reclaimed wood ceilings and concrete corridors that create a warm, modern atmosphere.
In keeping with the current trend of fewer private offices and more “bullpens” Spector has also attended to acoustical solutions for conference rooms and additional “phone room” privacy.

A distinctive glass, weathered metal and wood interior staircase now links the 16th and 17th floors.

But the highlight of the design is a fully fitted-out bar that Spector says takes advantage of the special features on the 17th floor. “The new bar and gathering area highlights two exterior terraces and their views of many iconic Park Avenue skyscrapers,” he says.

The liquor company will use the space to ensure its buyers and clients can taste-test products such as Absolute vodka, Malibu, Kahlua, Perrier-Jouët champagne, and Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Snezana Anderson of CBRE represented the spirit company in leasing the space, which started at 67,525 square feet before expanding with the addition of the 20th floor to 82,313 square. Gardiner & Theobald, Pernod Ricard’s owner’s representative is overseeing the build-out.

Owned by AEW Capital Management, the building itself is managed and leased by Cassidy Turley. According to CoStar data, asking rents in the building range from $60 to $66 per foot, depending on size and floor, says David Hoffman, executive managing director of Cassidy Turley. – Lois Weiss

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Market for Flexible Office Space is Booming, Executives Say
by Adam Pincus

Published October 5, 2012

The Real Deal

The flexible office suites company WeWork and the Boston-based investment firm AEW Capital Management are in contract to pay Extell Development $33.5 million for a long-term leasehold at 175 Varick Street in Hudson Square, several sources familiar with the deal said.

WeWork and AEW signed the contract to buy the long-term lease in August and the deal is expected to close in November, the sources said.

The Jones Lang LaSalle capital markets team of Richard Baxter, Jonathan Caplan, Scott Latham and Yoron Cohen was marketing the property on behalf of Extell.

WeWork, which leases flexible office space to short-term tenants, moved into the building nearly a year ago after signing a 15-year lease for 75,000 square feet in the building where it is now headquartered. The firm has six locations in Manhattan and one each in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

WeWork is part of a rapidly growing industry that leases office space to start-ups and other firms that have a limited presence in Manhattan. Other competing office companies active in the city include Virgo Business Centers, Emerge, Corporate Suites and Jay Suites. The company OfficeLinks recently inked a lease for its fifth location in Manhattan.

“The market is booming,” said Juda Srour, president of Jay Suites, which has five locations in Manhattan.

Extell bought the leasehold on the 185,000-square-foot office building located at the corner of Charlton Street, in 2005, for $24 million, data from CoStar Group shows. The building is owned by members of the Lehman family. Extell hired the JLL brokers last fall to market the leasehold, which city records show runs until the end of 2017.

Extell and JLL declined to comment. AEW and WeWork did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Quirky
Location: New York City
Square feet: 27,500
Designers: Spector Group & Ben Kaufman

Crowdsourced product maker Quirky’s office sits on the seventh floor of a former warehouse built in 1875, located in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Many of the office’s furnishings are repurposed items–a cluster of high school lockers serves as the reception desk. While some companies are cagey about how their products are made, Quirky’s product lab is the office’s centerpiece: It’s located smack in the middle of the floor.

See article here: http://www.inc.com/ss/worlds-coolest-offices-2012?cid=em01012week40#7

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Congratulations to Pernod Ricard for being listed in Forbes’ “The World’s 50 most innovative Companies”

Spector Group is the Prime Interior Architect on Pernod Ricard’s 67,000 sqft Manhattan office relocation to 250 Park Avenue.

See entire list here:

http://www.forbes.com/special-features/innovative-companies-list.html

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The Winter Garden at the World Financial Center
Enter at Vesey Street at West Street
New York, NY

The final pieces of more than 400 tons of steel tubing will cap off two basket columns that will eventually form the new front entrance to the World Financial Center, a Brookfield Office Property. The columns were constructed in Canada and transported to New York in ten pieces. The glass pavilion will stand 55 feet tall and cover an area of 8,000 square feet.

The pavilion will serve as the complex’s new front door, welcoming workers, visitors and residents as they emerge from (and enter into) the Fulton Street and World Trade Center Transit Hubs. The pavilion will be the western terminus of the highly anticipated east-west underground pedestrian passageway in Lower Manhattan that spans one-half mile.

The new pavilion was conceptualized by world-renowned architect Rafael Pelli. The original structural engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, and the original mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers Flack + Kurtz are also working on the pavilion project. Plaza Construction, a New York-based construction management firm, is the construction manager. Subcontractors include Urban Foundation Engineering, Permasteelisa, Metropolitan Walters LLC, and Liberty Contracting. The Spector Group is the architect of record on the project and Mueser Rutledge is the geo-technical engineer.

This project is part of Brookfield’s $250-million redevelopment program of the World Financial Center that aims to meet the needs of the changing Lower Manhattan: a new center for, dining, entertainment, and a diverse workforce beyond financial services, including media, technology, professional services and more. Construction has also started on the World Financial Center’s dining terrace with 14 restaurants and a European-style marketplace. The third phase of the project – to kick off later this year – will introduce luxury local and international retailers in the Courtyard area of the complex.

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Teamwork helped Centerline Capital Group, a real estate finance and asset management company, outfit its newest–and largest US office at 100 Church Street in New York.

With ten offices throughout the US, Centerline’s flagship was selected with the help of CBRE and Spector Group Architects and built by ACC Construction.

Scott Spector was introduced to Centerline by David Hollander at CBRE during the search process, and was involved doing preliminary programming. When the company selected 63,000 s/f of space on the 15th floor at 100 Church, Spector immediately began working with Centerline and EvensonBest on design, layout and furniture.

As the lease with SL Green was signed, it became clear that it would be an easy transition; Spector Group knew the developer very well, and ACC Construction also counts SL Green as a frequent client.

“ACC had a tight schedule in which to produce 60,000 s/f of space,” said Spector.

Michele Medaglia, president and CEO of ACC, commented, “The communication among the project teams made the schedule move forward with ease. Everyone worked very well together.” The efforts of the architect, contractor and furniture vendor were rounded but by Centerline’s point person, Kelly Schnur, senior managing director of operations, who managed the process.

Both Spector and ACC’s project manager, Jorge Garcia, explained that aside from the pace of the job, the biggest challenge came in building the IT room.

A large space, it included sophisticated mechanical components and its own fire suppression and independent HVAC systems entirely separate from the building’s base systems. In case of a power failure, there is a large battery-powered back-up system to allow the IT team to bring systems down in an orderly fashion. The engineering of the IT room, designed by MG Engineering, had to be carefully co-ordinated by ACC, and done speedily as well.

The finished offices use SL Green’s standards for interior materials and were built out within Centerline’s budget.

Said Schnur, “We are delighted to be in our new offices at 100 Church Street. Everyone loves the open and bright space flooded with so much natural light.”

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What interior architecture trend can save a firm or owner 30 to 50 percent in furniture costs per person, while also allowing 10 to 20 percent more people to comfortably occupy a given space?

If you said bench seating, then you are correct! Over the past five years, an increasing number of firms have embraced this design option.

In fact, more than half of our firm’s clients specifically bring up this popular seating arrangement in architectural programming meetings, either because they’ve heard about its benefits or have recently visited an office with it in place and were impressed by what they saw.

Bench seating is hardly a passing fad. What started off as a staple of trading firms such as Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch, social media firms such as Facebook, and graduate-level classrooms everywhere has quickly caught on with companies throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Today we are seeing a variety of users from across the country – advertising and marketing firms, hedge funds, private equity and financial services firms, publishing houses, art studios and, yes, even architectural firms such as our own – implementing bench seating systems in their offices and, no doubt, the trend is here to stay. While it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, the fact that even law firms are starting to embrace the benching trend shows just what a versatile arrangement it truly is.

So, why has bench seating caught on at a rapid pace? Let’s start by discussing an obvious – and major – driver: cost. The economic shift of recent years has caused firms to become more bottom line-oriented.

Companies are looking at ways to contain occupancy costs by better utilizing office space, increasing density and reducing their footprint in the process. Benching allows them to fit more people on a floor than a typical six-by-six or six-by-eight L-shaped workstation, thereby realizing tremendous financial savings.

Then there are aesthetics. Today’s bench seating is sleeker and more refined than that of a decade ago. It can incorporate storage variations to meet the needs of busy office workers, whether it’s below the bench, in bins to the side of it, or in the form of movable, cushioned file centers.

Computers can also be mounted onto panels or screens that attractively and unobtrusively separate one work area from another. Furniture manufacturers are rapidly responding to the increased need for office benching systems by creating warmer, more comfortable alternatives. For instance, rather than industrial-strength laminate, countertops can be constructed of softer materials, such as fabric or acrylic.

An example of creative material use is the headquarters Spector recently designed in Far West Chelsea for Quirky.com, a company that takes user-submitted inventions and turns them into market-ready merchandise. The firm’s benching solution was as innovative as the company itself, putting to use custom recycled bowling alley tops to create an attractive, green and whimsical workspace for its employees and one that would foster the type of inventiveness the company prizes.

Speaking of which, a key selling point of benching is the open, collaborative environment it creates. For companies looking to increase interconnectivity between employees and encourage creativity, bench seating is an excellent option. By removing or limiting the high partitions that are the hallmark of a cubicle-centric office, a lower visual profile is instantly achieved and office workers and visitors can more fully take in the space’s beauty and architecture. This trend also falls in line with the more mobile, technology-laden workplace of today.

Wireless technology and flexible work arrangements mean less room is needed and that workers are typically spending less time seated at their desks or workstations. Arrangements can be customized for the end users’ needs, including side-by-side and face-to-face benching applications or limiting high partitions to the office perimeter, where senior management typically places its offices.

But what about privacy, many clients wonder? As an architect, I can assure them that a perfect counterbalance can be easily achieved. Space saved through benching arrangements can be mindfully converted into smaller conference rooms for meetings, private phone areas, larger coffee bars for discussions and open, collaborative areas for group projects.

Sprinkled strategically throughout an office, they create buffers within the open environment, achieving equilibrium between the need for open and closed-door spaces. Good acoustics can also be incorporated into the design, both in the choices of ceiling and flooring materials, or in the introduction of white noise to soften sound reverberations.

By working closely with a qualified, experienced architect, bench seating can be designed in a way that allows for future growth and flexibility. For instance, many of our building owner clients are utilizing benching in their pre-built spaces, thanks to high efficiency, low costs and, just as important, the looks. This multipurpose seating option can allow for transitions within an organization or management or adapted for expansion or a shift in user needs. Bench seating can come in all shapes and sizes, from straight lines to curved or semi-circular options, subject to a building’s floor plate and the needs of its occupants.

As proof that we wholeheartedly endorse the use of bench seating in offices, we are practicing what we preach. In fact, the new offices Spector Group is slated to occupy this summer, at 183 Madison Avenue, will boast sleek built-in storage, an abundance of collaborative areas and conference rooms and – you guessed it – plenty of modern bench seating for its design professionals and administrative staff.

http://www.rew-online.com/2012/09/12/on-the-bench-and-making-money/