Home improvement tricks

* Space-saving techniques, not visual tricks, make the most of the cottage s small rooms. By designing an efficient wall-to-wall desk and storage unit (left, Jeffrey carved a work area out of one corner of the living room. Storage cubbies fitted with wicker baskets stow everything from file folders to fabric swatches. Fabric-covered corkboards keep memos and design inspiration at eye level.

* Liberal doses of white keep the doses color scheme from becoming overwhelming. Painting formerly dark woodwork white provides crisp contrast provides unifying line from room to room (below). Upholstering larger furniture in white denim also quiets the scheme so that pattern can doses in pillows and accessories. The same while denim, this time with a richly handed top, drapes a doorway.

* With so little space to decorate, Jeffrey could indulge in the details. A folding screen (above) upholstered in a striped fabric creates a dramatic focal point without consuming much floor space. It also can be used for privacy. Some pillow fabrics were dyed with tea to give them a faded appearance. Furnishings–including wicker and painted pieces-are both antique and "aged" with point.

* If you spend much of your time in the kitchen, why not put the stereo there? This Craftsman-style base cabinet (below) also serves as a media center. Jeffrey painted it white and replaced wood panels in doors with glass to make the piece appear less bulky. Checked fabric behind the glass hides stereo equipment and enhances the cottagey look. Another option? Use fabric without the glass. Then you can tuck speakers behind closed doors.

* A full-size dining table would have swamped the small breakfast nook. But this 1940s bamboo table above) is a good fit, and it gives the nook the Feel of a real dining room. "Irs probably actually a buffet table," Jeffrey explains. "But its narrow dimensions work perfectly here." Other space-saving dining solutions might include a drop-leaf or console table, anything with a glass top (it consumes less visual space), even folding cafe or wooden chairs.

* In the bedroom (right),, an upholstered headboard and matching pillows create a focal point but also are practical for reading in bed. The antique cover;et, with its Scottish thistle embroidered design, belonged to Jeffrey’s grandmother. On o bamboo side table are pieces of Mouchlinware, antique wooden boxes commemorating towns or castles. Jeffrey collected the souvenirs while traveling in Scotland. Simple cotton Roman shades (below) are left unlined to filter-but not block-the sunlight.

* To hide the kitchen s 25year-old slider windows, Jeffrey designed simple sheer curtains, banded with a contrasting floral fabric and strung on tension wire inset into the window frame (right. Metal grommets and marine hardware give the treatment a nautical look.

* Pointed effects add "ago" to newly pointed walls. In the study (, Jeffrey mixed oil- and water-based paint then brushed it onto the wall in uninterrupted top-to-bottom strokes to create a streaked look. In the bedroom (page 180), brushing on o "milk wash’ of watered-down white paint over a base color gives the walls a hazy effect. In addition to "aging" the surfaces, the techniques also help to tone down strong color.

* A simple while denim slipcover gets the star treatment with the help of contrast welling and an applique (b By stitching the applique on loosely, it can be removed easily before the slipcover is cleaned. Jeffrey uses remnants of more expensive fabrics judiciously on small throw pillows.

* Skirting the area under the kitchen sink hides ugly plumbing and creates co softness Ir/gh. Jeffrey used the same star appliques as the slipcover, this time in yellow, to embellish the bottom of the skirt. To make the floors checkerboard pattern, use a yardstick or template to mark off the squares. Then mask off each color with painter’s tape. Although a small roller is the quickest way to apply the paint evenly, Jeffrey used a brush and thinned oil paint to get this streaked effect.

Jack & Jill baths

Some bathrooms are designed to help keep the calm in households where the kids have to share. Builders call them Jack-andJill baths. Located between two bedrooms, these layouts offer access from both sides and also feature separate vanities that can be closed off from toilet and bathing facilities.

If there’s no room in the house or budget for the children to have private bathrooms, use these examples as a starting point for planning a Jack-and-Jill bath of your own. Our numerous sample floor plans will help you find a layout that fits.

Peacekeeper Disagreements are bound to break out when a teenage brother and preteen sister have to share a single bathroom. To keep arguments to a minimum, Mandy and Jim Truesdale remodeled so their kids could enjoy a Jack-and-Jill layout. Both kids have their own vanity alcoves with doors at each end. Depending on which doors are opened or closed, the alcoves can serve as extensions of their bedrooms or as extensions of the bath.

Unlike most Jack-and-Jill configurations, this one has a third door, which gives guests access from the outdoor deck without forcing them to tromp through one of the kids’ bedrooms. Visitors Welcome Jack-and-Jill baths aren’t just for kids, they’re good for guests, too. That’s why Atlantabased builder, Beverly McAfee, put one in her own home. The bath lies between a guest room and a room set aside for her granddaughter, Madison, who comes for frequent overnight visits.

Entrances from two bedrooms and a sundeck out back can make for a busy bathroom. To keep privacy a priority, the toilet was given its own separate compartment. A pedestal sink next to the tub was provided for the convenience of guests.

This large Jackand-Jill bath has a separate tub and showeran amenity that’s usually reserved for the master suite.

A niche in the file lub surround (above) provides ample room for shampoo bottles, while a sliding wire rock holds other bath necessities. A handheld shower makes bathing more convenient.

Vanity akoves were decorated in the same scheme as the rest of the bathroom; the navy blue tile treatment hat frames the micor (li is also used to bond the file that surrounds the tub (above) and shower (far left).

This conventional layout features three compact sections. To make the space feel larger, Beverly used 9-foot ceilings. These high ceilings made room for transom windows above the sliding doors, so daylight can still reach the bath’s core when the doors are closed.

Elegant wood details and brass accents give the bath a formal feel, but decorative tile treatments on the floor and shower walls help lighten the mood to keep the space feeling kid friendly.

The new American style

Like the best new cooking, the freshest decorating this season blends a variety of tastes and cultural influences-some exotic, some comfortably familiar. We’ve picked four distinctive looks and broken them down into simple design "recipes." Find one that suits your palate, or sample from a variety of styles-and stylish details-to create your own decorating menu.

Comfort Food

Casual decorating should be soothing to the body and soul. But too often it’s like a bland meat-and-potatoes meal, satisfying our hunger for comfort and function but leaving us craving style. The best new casual looks combine down-home ease with big-city sophistication. Here are the key ingredients:

Wicker adds ease to any room. But for a less porchy appearance, look for pieces that mimic upholsery shapes. The "club chairS (right) echoes sleek designs from the 1920s and 1930s.

Softly tailored upholstery. Some of the sloppy slipcovers of years past were as flattering as baggy sweat suits. Current upholstery styles borrow elements from our weekend wardrobe-brushed denims, bomber-jacket leathers, fuzzy chenillesbut give furniture a tucked-in, casual-Friday polish.

Mixed media. Now that consumers are more comfortable blending furniture styles and finishes within a room, manufacturers are mixing it up on a single piece. The armoire and end table (right) pair cherry and pine woods; the round table and coffee table blend wood and leather with metal. Clutter control. Put overstuffed rooms on a diet with clever storage pieces, such as the luggage-style coffee table and six-drawer end table (right).

Caribbean Salsa

If you’ve tangoed down the produce aisle lately, you’ve probably noticed the tropical influence. Mango, papaya, kiwi, plantain-the colors are straight off a Carmen Miranda costume. The same vivid palette is influencing home furnishings, with hues ranging from citrusy Euro-brights to pumpedup pastels. You decide how spicy to make it But here are some tips to keep in mind:

Start small. Unless you want to live in a state of constant visual stimulation, slip in small amounts of color by focusing on accents, such as pillows, artwork, and rugs. Keep the color quieter on larger spaces, such as the walls and big upholstery.

Take your room’s temperature. A cool combination of blues, greens, and violets (left) can give a space a calm, restful feeling; oranges, yellow$, and reds raise the energy level considerably.

White’s always right. Large doses of white (like the sofa, left) give the eye a place to rest and provide contrast, making bright colors appear crisper.

Catch of the Day

Fax machines, car pools, call waiting. It’s no wonder we’re having a collective escape fantasy. Even if you can’t run off to your own deserted island, you can bring that no-worry attitude home with you. The essential ingredients include furnishings and fabrics with a breezy, sunblushed quality-the kind of stuff you’d expect to see at a beachy inn. Here’s how to pull it together:

Travel light. Don’t burden your rooms with excess baggage. Bring only the essentials on this decorating getaway: a cozy bed, an armoire or chest to stow clothing and clutter, a convenient bedside table to hold personal treasures, and a pile of books. Wear it down. Look for furniture-old or newwith an aged appearance. Whitewashed wood, even obvious brush strokes on painted pieces, make a room look assembled over time.

Loosen up. Banish stiff "wallflower" arrangements by easing furniture away from the walls or placing it on the diagonal, such as-the-armoire (right). What have you got to lose? You can always move it back later.

Far East Fusion

Check out the latest restaurant listings. Chances are you’ll find a few that mix Asian-style cooking with something else, say, Cuban or Tex-Mex. The same thing is happening in home decor, largely in response to our desire for simplicity and serenity in our homes. In the dining room (right), blue-and-white porcelain, a stenciled fretwork border, and a sisal rug give French-influenced furniture an Eastern accent

Here are some ideas for updating tradition with a touch of the Far East:

Not ready for a full-sie color commitment For a quick, inexpensive fix, pile citrus fruits in a glass bowl or pick a bunch of colorful gerbera daisies .

Sheer curtains are another way to create a light-and-breezy look. To give panels substance and to tie them in with your decor, buy an extra twin sheet and use it to band the bottoms of curtains.

Simplify. Highlight one or two collections instead of many; display only what is meaningful and beautiful. Keep patterns to a minimum as well.

Go natural. Think of the surfaces and textures found in a Japanese garden-bamboo, stone, wood, straw-and try to weave these into your decor.

Be serene. A cluster of flickering candles or a fresh orchid floating in a bowl of water can bring a sense of harmony and calm to a room.

Side Dishes

You don’t have to redo a whole room to bring some fresh ideas into your decorating. Here are a few of the details that give the four looks on the previous pages their special appeal. Try adapting any of these ideas to create your own personal style.

Clean lines and minimal ornamentation give the French-style dining chair (below leff a Zen-like grace. Order is evident even in the simple tea setting (below right).

An old postcard wedged between layers of glass is both modem and nostalgic. Buy readymade frames with glass backing. Or, adapt existing frames by replacing the solid backing with a second piece of glass.

Shutters are essential to beach-house style. To get the look without redoing your windows, hinge together odd-sized shutters to make a folding screen. These came prepainted. To instantly "weather" them, sand off the paint in spots.

Painting a piece of flea-market or unfinished furniture is a relatively inexpensive way to give a room a bold shot of color. Pull the color scheme from your room’s fabrics. And don’t be shy. You can always repaint it later.

A sisal rug’s absorbent surface is perfect for stenciling. Use readymade stencils or make your own by tracing and enlarging designs in art and decorating books. This pattem was inspired by Chinese fretwork.

Make room for music

Live music lends vitality to any room, but finding the right spot for a baby grand can pose a design dilemma that even the masters find challenging.

At the Cedar Rock house in Quasqueton, Iowa, architect Frank Lloyd Wright went so far as to ask the Steinway Company to customize one of its pianos so it wouldn’t overpower the room. You may not need to take such bold measures if you follow these tips for maintaining a sense of harmony between the instrument and your home.

Stay in tune

When assessing a likely spot, take a look at environmental factors that will affect the instrument’s performance. Remember, pianos are made mostly of wood and have as many as 4,500 moving parts, so before placing the piano, pay close attention to fireplaces, doors to the outside, and even heating and air-conditioning vents. Changing temperatures may cause a piano to slip out of tune, but the real enemy is a fluctuating level of humidity. Ideally, the room’s relative humidity should be between 40 and 50 percent. If the humidity of your local climate varies widely, ask a piano dealer about high-tech humidity controls that can be installed inside the piano.

Direct sunlight can also cause problems. In addition to slight expansion and contraction of the wood caused by the sun’s heat, too much exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause a piano’s finish to fade.

Sound advice

How a piano sounds depends both on how it is tuned and on the acoustics of the room in which it is played. Too many hard surfaces can make a piano sound "bright," as the higher frequencies bounce from surface to surface. Dampening some of the sound with carpeting will make the instrument seem quieter and take the edge off the upper octaves. If you have hardwood floors, simply put an area rug under the piano. Draperies and wallpaper also offer modest sound-dampening qualities.

A lesson in scale

Because they are large, pianos tend to be the focus of the room. But a big dark piano doesn’t have to steal the show. To add balance, consider another hefty piece of furniture on an opposite wall. Bookshelves, an armoire, or even large paintings can round out the ensemble and add balance to the room by filling vertical space. Since pianos are typically dark in color, you’ll want to keep the room’s colors fairly light to prevent it from feeling cramped.

AMERICAN ESPRIT

A fresh vision and a love for French culture inspired Lillian and Ted Williams, classicists and home restorers, to return an abandoned folie in Normandy, France, to the condition that made the structure a "jewel in a wheat field" during the halcyon days before the French Revolution. The Chateau de Morson, built in 1750 for the Marquis de Morson, is one of the few remaining folies in France. The gentlemen’s getaways were frequently a target for revolutionaries seeking to destroy any lingering symbols of the aristocracy. The folies not ruined by political action have been ravaged by the elements, Lillian Williams notes: "This house was not built to survive 200 years, it was built as a whim." The Chateau de Morson is unusual not only for its survival in the face of adversity, but also for its location in the Normandy countryside–most folies were found on the outskirts of Paris and Bordeaux, perfect locations for city-dwelling gentlemen to escape for an afternoon’s dangerous liaison.

When the Williamses entered the abandoned dwelling in Normandy for the first time, they saw a dramatic parlor with 14-foot ceilings and graceful glass doors overlooking fields of wheat. Struck by the beauty, they instantly decided to purchase the nobleman’s playhouse. "It took us 20 seconds to buy and 10 years to restore it. If we hadn’t bought it, it would have fallen down," Lillian says.

As Americans in France, the Williamses join the ranks of legendary interior designer Elsie de Wolfe and novelist Edith Wharton as Francophile owners of folies. What is taken for granted as a French ruin by many natives is rediscovered as a treasure with the fresh, appreciative eyes of Americans, Lillian observes. "I think the Americans have made their impact," she says. In the American style, the couple also brings the do-it-yourself ethic to the Continent. "We used more of our imagination and less of others’," Lillian explains. The walls are hand-painted and fabrics are selected based on her studies of ceramics and extensive knowledge of 18th-century art and textiles, which she uses to design fabric and wallpaper for the likes of Manuel Canovas. A large amount of the repair and refurbishment work on the manor was completed by Ted Williams.

Following the original intent of the frolicsome folie, Williams has decorated with a collection of game tables.

Other items include hunting horns and dueling swords. "I’m opposed to dueling, but I like to think these were used to protect the honor of a lady" she says. The game tables serve many purposes today, just as they did in the home’s first heyday The cabriole-leg pieces serve as dining and recreation areas for the Williamses throughout the house in 18th-century style. "Living in this house is like living in the 18th century," Lillian notes.

IT’S A CLASSIC: The curvy, cabriole-leg table was a must-have in wealthy 18th-century French homes and remains popular. It was originally designed as a table for gaming and dining. Here, the cabriole–a stylized form of an animal’s leg–is featured on a table en crachoir: a piece with a deep rim edge, meant to keep games and food from slipping off the table.

IT’S A CLASSIC: The fauteuil chair first appeared in France during the Louis XV period in the 18th century. The open-sided piece, created to suit the fashions of the day, was an instant success and quickly became a fixture in formal rooms throughout the nation. The upholstered chair, now an international favorite, can be identified by its deep, rounded back, spacious seat, and cabriole legs. Frequently, the fauteuil features padded arms, as seen here.

The Times They Are A- Moving

I already miss the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street. It may be four years before Renzo Piano’s architectural wonder, the new world headquarters for the Times, is built, but I’m already nostalgic for the place where I have worked for the past 28 years, and where I thought I’d work for just as many more. Most of my colleagues eagerly anticipate moving around the corner to 40th and 8th, but not me. I prefer the small Times lobby with its sweeping marble staircase, Deco-styled appointments, and curtained windows above the revolving door to Piano’s proposed commercial atrium–the so-called democratic space-that will doubtless be less intimate and remind me less of Loretta Young.

This old Times building is my second home. The prospect of a larger, more beautiful, more public building that will accommodate other tenants does not fill me with delight. I like things as they are: worn, venerable, and comfortable. To confirm these prejudices, I stopped by the new Conde Nast building across the street, which is clean, cold, and corporate. It may be fine for a mega-publishing conglomerate, but for not my hometown paper.

The Times is not a faceless enterprise, and our edifice is not a monument to corporate power. In the long-awaited 42nd Street Redevelopment tower-play, the existing Times building, which looks like a Loire Valley chateau, is, admittedly, an anachronism. But as Times Square becomes the electronic media park of the world–the site of Viacom, ABC, MarketSite, Conde Nast, and Reuters–and with the World Wrestling Federation themestaurant on our corner, the building is now an anchor securing tradition and continuity. Moving into Piano’s post-postmodern skyscraper seems almost as unthinkable as eliminating the Latin Condensed typeface from the Times’s front page. Latin, a 19th-century vestige, is the Times’s typographical signature; it has survived many shifts in graphic styles. Similarly, this building with its baroque ornamentation is a symbol of the Times’s continued excellence. Although The Daily News and the New York Post exchanged their historic old office buildings for bland new ones, neither paper has the Times’s legacy of eminence, and both probably benefited from the new scenery (now if only they’d change their editorial policies–but I digress). This old building is filled with so much pride one can feel it in the communal spaces–lobby, elevators, and cafeteria. Here the walls do talk; I can’t imagine what the new place will say.

I am not a cranky opponent of change. I have occupied three offices since joining the Times. The first was in the enormous incandescently lit art department, where waist-high mahogany partitions separated more than 20 long rows of narrow tables punctuated by rusty metal flat files. Void of such amenities as ergonomic chairs and tables, this space remained unchanged from the 1930s through the 1970s and was in desperate need of renewal. From there I happily moved into a renovated semiprivate office that had been carved out of a mammoth old photo studio. Finally, I shifted into a slightly larger modern warren with a sliver of window facing north, where I have remained–and where my belongings have multiplied–for almost 15 years. I was sanguine through the demolition of the hot-metal composing room, elimination of the Museum of the Printed Word, renovation of the now-defunct Sunday department, and construction of the grand duplex newsroom. I am certainly able to accept change without experiencing the existentia l nausea of longing.

But it is not change that makes me object to Piano’s building, it is the anticipated loss of community. No matter how beautiful Piano’s design, the old building, like the fabled TV bar Cheers, is a place where everyone knows your name (or at least your face). In the new quarters I predict there will be such a throng of transient faces that intimacy will be lost. I saw it at the Conde Nast headquarters and at office buildings throughout midtown Manhattan where people drift without a sense of place and the joy that comes from belonging. This is exactly what the old Times building gives me-belonging–whether I’m aware of it or not.

Exchanging our small hotel-like lobby for an exclusive and separate bank of elevators in a shared entryway (or even a separate reception/waiting room as in the Time Warner building) is not my only regret. Community is not shaped by one space alone. There are so many details in this building that collectively define the space. I will miss the staircases with tile brick walls designed so that maintenance staff could easily wipe off the ink soot that once wafted up from the press and composing rooms. I will miss the modest 12th-floor veranda, where on a warm day one can eat lunch or soak up the smog-filtered sun. I will miss the inaccessible balcony outside my own window; the entrance was long ago covered over for safety reasons, but I still imagine being out there. I will miss the recently renovated formal reception room on the 15th floor, which half a century ago was a magnificent photo studio with high-pitched ceiling and skylight (there are still spirits in that room). I will miss the WQXR auditorium and so und booths, abandoned half a decade ago when the Times’s classical music station moved to new off-site quarters. I will miss the delivery room where the newspapers were transported on conveyor belts from the basement and were bundled and thrown into waiting trucks. I will miss all these remnants of things past because the old Times building is an archaeological dig–a chronicle of newspaper history and a link to the city’s rich past.

The Piano building will be a showpiece, not a home. Yet given the inevitable relocation, I must make one humble request. Rather than raze the old building, or as has been suggested, turn it into a hotel, consider the option of converting it into assisted-living quarters for old Times-persons, like me. For a while, at least, it would be one hell of a living museum.

ROCKWELL GROUP

FOR 15 YEARS, NewYork’s upscale East Side restaurant Rosa Mexicano has seduced diners with famed table-prepared guacamole and “nuclear-powered” pomegranate margaritas. When the opportunity arose in for its owner, Josefina Howard, to open a second location on Manhattan’s West Side, she approached the Rockwell Group, the architectural team behind some of NewYork’s most fashionable eateries–including Nobu, Vong, and Ruby Foo’s. The design firm’s principal, David Rockwell, who had lived in Mexico for seven years, recognized a chance to translate his close-range observations of Mexican culture into a vibrant contemporary restaurant.

The main drawback was the narrow 6,000-square-foot site, which, despite its location opposite the tourist-magnet Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, had seen little success under previous owners. Part of the problem was a duplex layout: a staircase hidden at the rear of the restaurant led to the upper floor, effectively dividing the space in two and preventing a unified, festive mood.

Rockwell first knocked a hole in the center of the upper floor and built a grand central staircase–alongside a double-height blue-tile wall with a surface of constantly trickling water-that swept down to the ground-floor entrance. The restaurant “had to be striking from Lincoln Center, and I wanted people who came in to be somewhat amazed,” says Rockwell. The 30-foot-high waterwall and the dramatic staircase, he hoped, would entice passersby from the street. He also proposed a design that was a “collision” of traditional and modern Mexican elements, bringing together the clean lines and vibrant colors of architects such as Luis Barragan and the folk-art styles found in Mexican street markets.

After gaining Howard’s approval, Rockwell began acquiring and commissioning art. The highlight is a work by Guido Grunenselder and Francesca Zwicker comprising 200 diving plaster figures pinned to the waterwall, a reference to Acapulco cliff divers who regularly plunge 100 feet into a rocky tidal channel. Around the interior walls are corn-husk-and-rose–themed mosaics by Michael Palladino (each made from 63 photographs on wax-coated tiles) and wallboxes of hammered metal tiles by Brad Oldham (containing images of pomegranates, beans, and pineapples), among other commissioned pieces.

Throughout, the restaurant is accented with vivid slabs of color and handcrafted details. In the ground-level bar and cafe area, a poured concrete floor of earth-colored squares gives way to backlit wall panels of rose petals embedded in translucent resin. In the ground-floor dining area, booths upholstered in striped fabrics are separated from the waterwall by perforated metal screens. Upstairs, to maintain low noise levels, the design team specified window fabrics and a carpet, both with brightly colored stripes.

Although the owner had requested that Rockwell tie the restaurant’s design to its festively decorated East Side counterpart, the architect felt that aping the 15-year-old original’s beguiling but more haphazard interior would have seemed self-conscious. His only concession is in the shrine-like niches in the upstairs walls, which are bathed in vivid colors and glowing light reminiscent of the cross-town precursor. Despite its distinctiveness from the original home, the new Rosa Mexicano seems to have no problems attracting customers: five months into operation, the restaurant, according to management, operates consistently at full capacity.

Peter Hall is a Brooklyn–based freelance writer. His feature on London’s Millennium Dome appeared in the September 2000 Interiors.

MELER WILSON I Rosa Mexicano maitre d’

USER’S COMMENTS

What do you like best about the space? The waterwall.

Which part of the design makes your job easier? Actually, the color aspect of it, it’s very bright. It lightens your day as soon as you walk in the door.

What would you change about this space if you could? There’s nothing I’d change. I think it’s a perfectly designed restaurant.

Well, how does it compare to other restaurants you’ve worked in? Everything is at your fingertips. Although it’s a two-story restaurant, it’s very easy to operate. If you’re upstairs you can view thew hole room from the maitre d’ stand. There’s not really a bad table in the house. Sometimes when I come in, I sit in a table to get a view of what the customers see.

What sort of reaction do you get from customers? “The waterwall is incredible!” Stuff like that. A lot of people like the cliff divers. A lot of people ask, “Who’s the architect? Is it David Rockwell?”

EINHORN YAFFEE PRESCOTT, ARCHITECTURE & ENGINEERING

THE NASDAD stock exchange cannot be found on Wall Street, nor on any other street. The company’s corporate offices are near the government regulators in Washington, while its computers hum in a cool, dim facility in Connecticut. But as a stock market without a trading floor, Nasdaq wanted a three-dimensional ad for its tech-friendly brand, a space the public would recognize as the exchange’s home. In an age when financial news is both information and entertainment, “we had two audiences,” says Jorge Szendiuch, design principal on the project for Einhorn Yaffee Prescott. “One was the broadcast audience” that follows the market on TV, he explains. “The other was the audience on the street.”

And not just any street. Nasdaq found a home for its MarketSite–the hint of Internet-speak is surely intentional–in a prominent corner of Times Square, the urban crossroads where edifice and information meet. There, in the fall of 1998, it leased the first two floors of the corner drum of the Conde Nast building, then under construction, as well as the titanic sign above. New York–based EYP was hired to carve a broadcast studio, public exhibition space, and corporate facilities from the 25,000 square feet below what would become an instantly iconic billboard: a virtual home for a virtual stock exchange.

In late 1998, EYP embarked on the design-build project with a drop-dead deadline of New Year’s Eve, 1999. The initial budget was around $20 million, but that amount was contingent on the vagaries of the budget for the whole building. “We could not be rigid,” says Szendiuch. “We had to have a clear idea, but we had to be able to improvise as we went along.”

In fact, EYP’s design, created in collaboration with Harout Dedeyan, designer of Nasdaq’s original broadcast facilities in downtown Manhattan, was guided by two clear ideas. The first was to exploit Nasdaq’s real estate at the “Crossroads of the World.” To that end, EYP rejected the initial design for an exterior of columns with glass-filled openings. For maximum transparency, the designers opted instead for the Pilkington system of glass panels held in place by invisible cables. The manic streetscape seems to pour into the interior, while from the street, nothing obscures the 20-foot-tall stock-tracking video wall that backs Nasdaq’s ground-floor TV studio. “It’s not unlike a sign in Times Square,” says Szendiuch. “It’s just inside.”

The second idea was to work off the strong form of the exterior drum. The designers did this in part by removing a portion of the second floor and adding a circular mezzanine to creat a multitiered glass donut. Upon entering the space, visitors walk past the security desk and around the curved back wall, which is sheathed in translucent glass. The cylinder’s milky surface is broken by two clear openings, one of which reveals the broadcast control booth. The other, a transparent ribbon at mezzanine level, exposes the banks of computers that control the video wall. “We weren’t interested in hiding the equipment,” Szendiuch says. “We wanted to highlight the technology, because that is what gives Nasdaq an identity different from the New York Stock Exchange.” MarketSite certainly accomplishes this objective, playing on the contemporary culture surrounding the Nasdaq brand and the neighborhood surrounding the building. The project not only blurs the line between inside and out, but confounds the differences betwe en information, entertainment, technology, and commerce–like Times Square itself.

Debra Goldman is a New York-based writer specializing in consumer culture.

USER’S COMMENTS

ZRCH SMITH I Tourist, Los Angeles, CA

What do you like best about the Nasdaq interior? It’s visually captivating.

Would you want to work there? Sure.

You wouldn’t feel overloaded being there all day? Doesn’t look like overload; it looks like command control.

What would you change about it? I’d have it hooked up to VR goggles so I could just sit there and! wouldn’t have to look anywhere; I could just stare straight ahead.

Do you play the stock market? Yeah, I do. But you said it just right: play the game. It’s a game.

Does this make you want to invest more in the stock market? No, but it definitely makes me want to look at it. It’s more interactive.

Do you think the interior meshes with the outside of the building, with the new Times Square? Sure, and it shows where you are on the outside of the building [through a closed-circuit TV]. It’s beautiful. It makes me want to come back tomorrow and go in when it’s running.

THANHAUSER – ESTERSON ARCHITECTS

IF DESIGN EVER revived a lifeless building, it would be hard to find a better example than Venture House. This rehabilitation and recovery facility for the mentally ill has occupied a former funeral home in Jamaica, New York, since the fall of 1999. Once a forbidding place where souls rested en route to the next world, it now bustles with people eager to advance their lot in this one.

Venture House hired the New York architectural firm Thanhauser + Esterson to transform the site into a welcoming environment where patrons acquire vocational skills after receiving medical treatment offsite. The organization is modeled on a “clubhouse” concept developed about 50 years ago by Fountain House, a pioneering facility in Manhattan that helps people from all social strata learn to lead more productive lives. Venture House associate executive director Ray Schwartz explains that the design goal was “to create a space that mirrors the work setting outside and promotes a sense of belonging to the community.”

Venture House chose to gut the building, an amalgam of three small structures, and restore the exterior. Devoid of any original details, the interior had become an impossibly dark and convoluted warren of small spaces. Outside, the 1920s Romanesque facade–obscured by graffiti, canopies, and cinderblocked windows–retained little of its original dignity, rising alone on a broad avenue of car lots.

Schwartz notes that the “membership,” about 250 strong, responds best to an upbeat, easy-to-navigate setting that provides a social outlet away from home. To this end, the architects spruced up the entrance and reorganized the interior around a new centralized two-story stair hall capped by a large skylight. The hall not only increases a sense of space, but also floods the building with light and serves as an impromptu gathering spot for patients and visitors.

Working with a constrained budget of $1.1 million, the designers exploited paint treatments and sculptural forms in lieu of expensive materials. They saturated the core and circulation areas with color planes, from the golden glow of the stair hall to brightly accented banisters and doorways, then muted the hues in the surrounding workspaces. While the furniture is limited to off-the-shelf selections, custom touches such as eccentric niches and windows enliven the building and keep sight lines open into remote corners.

Open views and clear circulation promote the idea that no space is off limits. “This project did not offer great opportunity for extensive plan manipulation,” explains architect Jack Esterson. “Curves, angles, or skews would not have been appropriate. The idea was to bring in light, make sure there were very obvious pathways, and end every corridor with a window, door, or some moment of color.”

Members help with upkeep by cooking, cleaning, manning the phones, and assisting administration, so they work all over the building, not just in training rooms. Following a standard clubhouse motif, Venture House features recreational areas including a den-like lounge with sofas and a dining hall whose picture window looks out to a soon-to-be-completed garden.

Such careful design considerations have succeeded in making both members and visitors feel confident. In keeping with similar facilities around the country, the enterprise enables people with long-term illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to achieve fulfilling lives. What might seem like just another high-minded design actually advances this goal by engaging those it serves in a productive yet protected world, an attractive microcosm from which to brave the leap to the outside.

Contributing editor Juanita Dugdale wrote about edu.com’s Boston offices for the October 2000 Interiors.

USERS’ COMMENTS

EUCHARIA MUODERE I Case Worker

PRISCR EUEE I Administrative Assistant

What is your favorite part of the space?

EM: My unit, the clerical unit, upstairs, on the second floor.

PB: We have a lovely skylight. With all the light, the building is so friendly. The colors are so warm, so inviting…so everything!

Is there anything about the space you would change? PB: Actually, it’s pretty close to perfect. We have little bits to complete, but it’s pretty livable.

What do other people say about the space?

EM: They make comments about the size, the freshness, and how everything matches. And about the skylight.

How does it compare to other facilities you’ve worked in? PB: No comparison at all.

PASANELLA, KLEIN STOLZMAN, BERG ARCHITECTS

In 1996, Pasanella + Klein Stolzman + Berg’s renovation of West 55th Street’s Shoreham Hotel turned a once-dowdy property into one of New York’s first boutique-style lodgings. The change was so successful — aesthetically and financially — that The Boutique Hotel Group, the hotel’s owners, bought an adjacent 10-story office building with the goal of more than doubling the number of guest rooms and expanding Shoreham’s public areas to include a conference room and a restaurant.

Principal Henry Stolzman wanted to retain the intimate, luminous elegance of Shoreham 1 despite Shoreham 2’s tight demands: fewer square feet per guestroom upstairs and more amenity spaces required downstairs. There was also the functional problem of fusing the two buildings into one unified structure. PKSB’s solution was to transform the ground floor into a single winding, contiguous space, with guest rooms accessible via two separate elevator banks. The second building’s street-level interiors now progress in what Stolzman calls “a sequence of light boxes,” a series of minimally lit volumes with constantly changing colors along the circulation path.

One of the highlights of the newly-expanded ground floor is the hotel’s restaurant, which anchors the 55th Street facade and blends feelings of vertical compression (from its unusually low ceiling) and horizontal openness (full-length pivoting windows open to lend the entire room an alfresco effect). Then, at the north end of the east wing’s lobby-level marble-floored corridor is the hotel’s new breakfast area and skylit meeting room. The room’s severely modernist banquet table makes a stark contrast to the textured, mirror-backed glass rear wall –a vertical “slab of ice,” as the architect describes it, which changes dramatically in varying light conditions.

Upstairs, the 94 new guest rooms provided their own logistical trials: to obtain the required number of guest rooms per floor, says Stolzman, the spaces had to be unusually constrained. While there’s no getting around– or around in –the average room’s tight dimensions, PKSB succeeded in turning the overly cozy quarters into a stylish place to crash. In cases where the mom’s square footage was under 150, including the bathroom, Stolzman turned his full attention to the bed. He calls the result his “opium bed.” Indeed, the queen-size sleepers–with built-in custom cabinetry and an Ultrasuede headboard/canopy combination that covers most of the wall space–evoke the womb-like languidity of an opium den. A supermagnified black-and-white floral photograph ornaments each headboard, adding a tonal counterpoint to the tan-and-taupe palette.

With the bathrooms, too, “we fought for every inch,” Stolzman says. Rather than drywall, translucent glass separates the bathroom from the bedroom, admitting some natural light and conserving a few precious inches of floor space. Other touches, including custom-designed stainless sinks, trimmed of excess counter space inches, and ubiquitous mirrors, fight the good fight against claustrophobia.

USER’S COMMENTS

JEFF BURGESS / Concierge

What is your favorite aspect of the hotel?

I like the lobby because of the intimate feeling, because of the way they lit it, the shapes. The lighting has subtlety; it gives you a warm feeling. The light that changes color kind of pulls you back to the bar and around.

What part of the design helps you do your job better?

The public spaces. Also, my desk is set back in the corner with a top that curves down over me. It lends itself to humor. Guests tell me, “Don’t hit your head.”

What would you change about the hotel?

I wish when they did the other side they’d done the art and lighting differently. I thin k it’s a little more bland.

What do guest comment on most?

We get complimented on the artwork, the bar, the back area. One guest, he loves our sheets. That’s why he comes here.

If you were travelling would you want to stay in a hotel like this?

I like small hotels like this one because of the personalized service and design.