Text description provided by the architects. Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects (LTL Architects) was commissioned to design the offices for NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis (SCA). The SCA is transdisciplinary in nature, combining topics and methodologies drawn from the humanities and social sciences. Areas of study include Africana Studies, American Studies, Asian/Pacific/American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Latino Studies and Metropolitan Studies.
Extensive discussions with faculty and staff members were instrumental in the development of the plan, which placed individual faculty offices along the perimeter of the space where there was the most natural light. While this method is typical for offices, it usually results in long, dark corridors deprived of daylight and visual interest. To remedy this condition, LTL carved away these offices at strategic locations to allow for the introduction of natural light and to produce a series of public rooms. In addition, brightly colored acrylic boxes were inserted through the walls between the offices and corridors. These boxes were then integrated into the overall way finding strategy, as they were printed with room numbers and signage. The boxes additionally function as bookshelves for faculty members occupying the offices - with the books visible from the public hall.
In order to further alleviate the homogeneity of typical office spaces - all of the enclosed ‘rooms’ were treated as volumes inserted below the existing steel and concrete barrel vaulted ceiling. Throughout the public areas, this architectural feature is exposed to view and provides a sense of continuity while maximizing ceiling heights often limited by dropped ceilings. Below this unifying surface, two main volumes house graduate student offices, meeting rooms, and classrooms. The ends of the larger volume are excavated to produce two lounge areas and a new reception desk. At the corner of the floor with the best light and views, LTL created a public flex space that alternates between a lecture hall and a lounge for students and faculty.
Adjoining the flex space is a torqueing wall clad in cork strips which vary in color and width. At the flex space, the cork wall creates stepped seating for events and wraps down to produce the floor surface. As it moves along the length of the department office, it is torqued, cut, and folded to house bathrooms, copy rooms, and computer workstations. The cork wall thus satisfies a number of programmatic needs while still making an overall gesture to unify the office.