The United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office in New York has been our client since 1999. A major project for this client has been the design of a master plan for 40,000 square feet of space at 845 Third Avenue in New York City. After preparing and presenting the master plan, we were asked to commence implementation by preparing 5,000 square feet of the space for use by the office which assists U.K. based businesses in international markets and encourages overseas companies to do business in the U.K.

    A major challenge in this phase of the work was to eliminate cellular offices and happily accommodate 50 workstations in an open space. To do this, we designed five spines along the long axis of the space. We maximized the space between spines and loaded each with five pairs of work stations. We left ample room between the work stations and the glazed perimeter thereby creating broad corridors for circulating, congregating, and providing all workstations with natural light.

    Another challenge was to ameliorate the noise which would ordinarily have resulted from 50 desks in one open space. We did this by using the spaces´┐Ż' only wall to design an assembly comprised of acoustically absorbent materials fronted by floor to ceiling 50% sound transparent metal mesh panels, each on 5 degree angle. The former absorbs ambient sound and the latter controls reverberation between the space's two 100' long parallel walls. The metal mesh panels are etched and configured to create the dynamic and patriotic effect of a series of fluttering Union Jacks (the national flag of the U.K.). The custom designed carpet tile further contributes to noise control and adds to the signature expression of the space. To resolve the conflict of a tight schedule, long lead items, and London's requirement for a competitive bid process, we suggested retaining a construction manager to procure long lead items (including the metal mesh panels, custom carpet tile, and work stations) and obtain a minimum of three bids from each subcontractor tradesman. The project was completed on schedule with union labor at a construction cost of $1,000,000. We have since commenced to implement other phases of the plan.