Art and Interiors: Part Two

As I noted last month, we love it when clients put their money where the mouth is when it comes to supporting the arts. In the prior post we wrote about MediaMath and their somewhat unusual practice of hiring artists in their facilties and IT departments, and their serious collection of new art.

Honeygrow, the fast casual powerhouse that we are proud to name a a client, is also investing a lot in artists.  Their focus is on supporting the artist community in the places where they open new restaurants, and it takes a lot of time and commitment to do this well. Chief branding officer Jen Denis conducts extensive research and then reaches out to local artists to discuss location-specific possibilites for featuring their work. Sometimes this takes the form of a site-specific mural, as at Court Street in Brooklyn. Other times the company commissions the artist to create a video of their city, as at Charles Village, Baltimore - which runs as the background of the customer ordering interface. 

We try to set off the work in the best possible way, lighting it carefully and giving it some breathing room - we've all been in restaurants where the art feels like an afterthought, and always want the honeygrow art to feel as purposeful and important to the diner as it is to the client.

martha rich mural

Tile - why we like it

Our project for MediaMath at 4 World Trade was recently honored by the Italian Confindustria Cermica for its creative use of tile; we won "2017 Best Commercial Project" and the federation brought me out to Orlando to talk about the project. I have since been interviewed by a slew of industry folks wanting to hear more about when and why we specify tile in our projects. 

Certain materials feel comforting and warm to us, even if in color, tone and even touch they may be cool or even cold. Brick is one of these materials -- even when it's not the warm terracotta color we most associate with it,  brick feels human to us; we respond to its hand scale; it resonates with our body. Tile works the same way. We understand that each piece, no matter how humble the installation, is laid by hand. A simple wall of tile, say a subway tile in white with white grout, is beautiful and satisfying because its decorative quality comes from the way in which it is assembled.

And of course tile is super easy to care for, and to keep clean - just watch your grout color!

Tile also fits into pretty much any budget: you can spend as much as you want, but you can also spend very little and get excellent, long lasting results.


tile floor_mediamath

Art and Interiors: part one

I love it when we get a client who is serious about supporting emerging artists, and we are lucky to have two such clients right now. MediaMath and honeygrow both invest serious time and money in new arts talent, in different ways. 

It may surprise you to hear that MediaMath, the leading digital marketing and software company, employs (in addition to the mathematicians and engineers and sales people you'd expect) a lot of artists. Their VP of Information Technology and Facilities is a practicing visual artist working in video, photography, and mixed media. He hires artists as project managers for his departments because he says their creative  problem-solving abilities are well above most other applicants. Upside for us on the design side: these people tend to be super fun to work with and collaborate with - they are accustomed to thinking and talking visually, and they enjoy doing so as much as we do.

Every time MediaMath opens or renovates a new office (which, lucky for us again, is pretty often) their facilities team researches and buys artwork for the company's impressive collection. This collection is curated entirely by the internal team, which has also put together a gorgeous catalog with thoughtful essays. They select artwork that reflects in some way the digital focus of the company, but that doesn't mean it's all computer generated. On the contrary, a lot of the work appears completely hand-created - but includes a digital backstory or process without which the work would not be possible. We get to help the team place the art and light it appropriately, and in the process we learn about interesting new people and techniques. 

Next time: honeygrow and the arts


2017 resolution

At JCA we have a New Year's resolution / obsession that we vow to stick to. Composting! We are composting at home and encouraging our restaurant clients to lead the way in commercial composting. The amount of food we waste in New York is pretty shocking - the NYC Department of Sanitation estimates on its webiite that a full third of the waste it collects is organic waste (food, food-soiled paper, and yard waste) which can all be diverted from the landfill stream and turned into useful stuff through composting.  I will admit that this process used to turn me off a bit before I researched the how to's - I assumed it was messy and smelly. It's really not.

My kids are sick of hearing me talk about it, but they're getting the hang of it and, I think, are proud of our new efforts. If you live in NYC you can look here to find out how to compost in your neighborhood:


Educating Twice Exceptional kids

I am happy to now serve as the president of the board of directors for the Quad Preparatory School for twice exceptional (2E) kids. JCA has been working pro-bono for the school for the last couple years and recently designed and coordinated the school's fitout (on a very modest budget) at their new home in the financial district.
What is 2E? Twice exceptional kids (like my older son) are - like the name says - exceptional in (at least) two ways. They have one or more amazing talent, and one or more learning/social challenge. My son Booker, a high functioning kid on the autism spectrum, has incredible abilities in math and serious struggles with language arts and some social situations. The Quad is the right place for him because of it's mission:
"The Quad Preparatory School transforms the lives of twice-exceptional students – gifted children with learning differences – by redefining the experience of school. Our unparalleled and personalized model fully integrates social and emotional learning with engaging academics. By teaching to the way each individual student learns, we empower them to rise to the level of their talents and go on to contribute to communities of excellence."

It's not easy to teach these kids because of their asynchronous development. The high highs and the low lows are difficult to reconcile - impossible maybe - and it takes incredible patience on the part of teachers and parents to address both. 


 Booker with his design for digital sushi wallpaper at the Cooper Hewitt

Booker with his design for digital sushi wallpaper at the Cooper Hewitt

Ubiq DC is open for the 2016 Holiday!

In time for holiday shopping - the Ubiq store on M street opened to lines around the block just before Thanksgiving. Kelton Bumgarner, Ubiq's merchandising and visual guru, has the store looking sharp at all times. Kelton brings a patient and quiet expertise to all of his projects.

The trickiest component of this project was the bronze shoe "net" that holds featured footwear. We worked on this fixture for over 6 months, and fabricator Amuneal did  a great job prototyping and fabricating.

The importance of prototyping!

One of the best parts of my job is working directly with fabricators and craftspeople to figure out a tricky design problem. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Amuneal, a top notch fabrication shop based in Philadelphia, on our project for Ubiq Georgetown. We wanted to create a shoe fixture that would be a glowing net, reminiscent of a basetball hoop but super elegant at the same time.

We spent many hours going back and forth on details, partial mockups, materials samples, and prototypes. There's simply no substitute for full-scale studies when you're trying something new. The client needs to be on board for this process, because it takes time and patience. Ubiq definitely got  it - they were super engaged in the process and wanted to break new ground, not just stay on safe (we know how to do this) ground.

honeygrow opening at Pentagon City, DC this month

The first of the 2016 locations we designed for honeygrow, fast casual stir-fry powerhouse, will open at the end of this month in Washington,DC.  It has been exciting to watch the construction winding up! You can sign up for tasting previews here:

Ubiq coming to Georgetown, DC

We have lots going on in the nation's capitol now, including a new M street retail location for Ubiq, the highly curated footwear and apparel leader based in Philadelphia. For this new spot we're completely renovating a four story brick building. You'll find a new double height shopping space that celebrates the existing structure while incorporating a new fixture program we designed for the brand. It's always interesting to see what demolition uncovers.

m street Ubiq post demolition

JCA wins a 2016 Boston Preservation Achievement Award

We are so happy to be on the winning team for the Lovejoy Wharf project, recognized today by the Boston Preservation Alliance for its contribution to the city of Boston. This project, for which we were Converse's design architect,  is the result of years of intense and rewarding collaboration with the developer Related Beal's team -- especially their executive architect TAT. Thank you, Tom Schultz, for all the hard work!

Design for 2E Special Needs Kids - the Quad Prepartory School

JCA is working with the Quad Preparatory School on their relocation from the modest basement of a synagogue into a bright, beautiful new space on Pine Street in Manhattan's financial district. The Quad is a school for "2E" kids. These "Twice Exceptional" students all have amazing talents, and also serious obstacles to overcome. As a parent of a 2E high schooler I am learning more about the challenges and rewards of raising a 2E kid every day.  I am so pleased to bring some of my insights as both an architect and a parent to the fitout at Pine Street.  

2E is a relatively recent term, and most people don't know what it means. In my son's case, 2E means incredible skills in math, coupled with the major social deficits and anxiety that can come with his diagnose of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Quad's space is different from a typical school because instruction is one-on-one in academic subjects. This means lots of small spaces for intense instruction, coupled with spaces for collaboration and spaces for alone time. Many 2E kids are easily overwhelmed by sensory input -- which can include sounds, smells, and tactile things that most people can easily tolerate -- while at the same time craving such input in certain circumstances. The Quad space needs to meet all these requirements.

Museum of Food and Drink 2016 gala

JCA is a proud supporter of the Museum of Food and Drink - this growing institution is trying to change the way we think and talk about food; as they put it, "Food is Culture, and MoFAD shows you why." JCA provided early visualizations for the museum to help raise funds, and the progress this group has made is amazing. You can visit the MoFAD lab at 62 Bayard Street in Brooklyn; check out their site for details an upcoming events:

The annual fundraiser was at Weill Music Room at Carnegie Hall this year, and top chefs contributed their ideas and time to a six course dinner around historic food themes. Note the "happy meal" box on the table -- a reinterpretation by Marco Canora. Ted Allen and Alex Guarashelli were enthusiastic hosts and entertaining table-mates  -- as was  founder (and my husband!) Dave Arnold (to my left, below.)

our Converse Headquarters project: story of collaboration

Thanks to author Mindi Zissman and Architectural Products Magazine for this beautiful article on our headquarters for Converse in Boston. This project is  great example of the collaboration required to bring a gem like the Lovejoy Building back to life. JCA worked for three years with the landlord's team to design and execute a full base building rehabilitation and two-floor addition; then we designed the full tenant fitout, teaming with BH+A as the local architect of record.  

One of the most rewarding parts of the project for JCA was designing the pavilion building in front (you can see it in the image below: structure, middle bottom of the image) - a new home for Converse retail and their awesome recording studio, Rubber Tracks.

Converse Headquarters Boston

We are the design architects for honeygrow + proud of it...

So glad to be working with this growing, cutting edge company. New locations coming to the east coast, hopefully near you because this food is delicious! It's not easy to stand out in this increasingly crowded fast-casual field, but these guys do -- and hopefully will even more so when our new designs launch later this year. Everything at honeygrow is super-fresh and made to order; we are working on a material pallette inspired by their high-heat cooking.


Ubiq Walnut St. open in time for the holidays

This store was a labor of love for us - a great client and a beautiful historic building to work within. Ubiq's Paul Lee has sourced an exclusive product assortment, and Kelton Bumgarner does an amazing job with visuals and merchandising. So get shopping and make sure you visit upstairs, too.

Ubiq Walnut Street by Jennifer Carpenter Architect_exterior view_smaller.jpg

All in the details: great metalworkers

We have worked with Karol Popek of Modelsmith for over a decade. He is a super talented craftsman in many materials but we especially like his metalwork. Karol has made 10 foot high blackened steel barn doors, delivered perfectly finished lacquer cabinets, and a slew of other difficult feats. At our restaurant for chef Wylie Dufresne, Alder, Karol made the bronze and rubber tabletops you see below -- and they are beautiful. JCA's concept was to make a 'built in' placement in the form of a removable rubber mat that sits inside a frame of patinated bronze - the mat can be popped out and run through the dishwasher. 

Detroit Red Wings arena breaks ground!

Architect Jennifer Carpenter (below, right) and graphic designer Tracy Turner designed the overwhelmingly successful Detroit District Preview Center, which is helping to promote this 50 block mixed use redevelopment. The new arena for the Detroit Red Wings is one major feature. We are so honored to have been invited to participate in this exciting day for Detroit.

Working in Detroit is an intense experience - so much hope in this place, but so far to go. 


tracy turner and jennifer carpenter_detroit redwings arena groudnbreaking

Boston's newest addition to the skyline goes up

So excited to see this go up - after over a year of negotiation, design, and detailing, the sign for Converse Headquarters Boston is installed. We worked with Materials&Methods, a top notch signage and media design firm, to make this a reality. The hand-finished letters are designed to work with the copper and brick palette of the existing Lovejoy building. The photos here, by Jeff Grantz, show how each letter is individually craned into place and secured onto a preinstalled support structure on the roof.

converse sign goes up