When SL Green decided to convert Kenneth Cole’s former showroom on the first floor into a lobby on 707 Eleventh Avenue, the architects decided to take their cues from the heavy wooden and brick beams and the building’s history as a piano factory.
Inga Kruliene and Roger Sommerfield of Design Republic hired street artists How & Nosm to create a dramatic red, white and black mural for a lobby wall, and hired another artist to create a patterned wall of metal-framed glass windows. Some of the panels are open while others are filled with textured glass. The lighting is hung between the glass wall and the mural so that the visitors’ attention is drawn to the art.
In front of the art wall, a black wooden reception desk gives the room a bit more drama. The rest of the brick-built lobby will be filled with mid-century modern furniture to create a “more homely feel,” Kruliene said.
The six-story, 17,000-square-foot loft building was originally built in 1901 for piano maker Kohler & Campbell and served as Kenneth Cole’s headquarters from 2004 to January last year when SL Green bought it for $ 90 million.
Now the Renaissance Revival property is undergoing a complete renovation, including two new elevators that will require new lightweight steel and sheetrock shafts, new bathrooms, and a roof terrace. The renovation work will expose the original attic beams on the ceilings and restore the original wooden floors. The former factory also has large, arched windows with new glass. Even the bathrooms have a neo-industrial feel with contrasting white and black tiles, rectangular mirrors with rounded edges, and hanging pendant lights.
The architects tweaked a few things after COVID-19 hit the city, including moving to a destination dispatch system for the elevators and adding separate sinks in the bathrooms instead of a shared trough between all of the faucets. The lobby is big enough to create social distance, the architects said. And now tenants can scan their security cards near the entrance and an elevator arrives with a pre-programmed floor.
The third floor has been converted into a marketing suite while the rest of the building will be under construction until late winter or spring 2021.