UNION SQUARE CAFÉ BY DAVID ROCKWELL

 

Portable Network Graphics imageNew York restaurateur, Danny Meyer, entrusted architect-designer and regular customer, David Rockwell, to preserve the familiarity of his first restaurant, the original Union Square Café (USC) when it relocated to new premises after 30 years from its home on 21 East 16th Street.

Credited with helping revitalise the neighbourhood, ‘USC’ is beloved for its quirky, comfortable charm and dishes featuring ingredients sourced from the neighbouring Union Square Greenmarket. In addition to maintaining all of the charm of the original restaurant, Meyer didn’t want to lose that proximity to the market on relocating and looked at more than 25 spaces in the neighbourhood before settling on the new location at East 19th Street and Park Avenue South.

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Designed by David Rockwell and his studio The Rockwell Group, USC brings out the best of the much-loved design elements from the old space and injects new life through a fresh, contemporary design dining aesthetic in USC’s new home.

DESIGN CONCEPT

David Rockwell has been a regular customer of USC since Rockwell Group took up premises there in 1994, maintaining his own table throughout this time. Rockwell designed Meyer’s restaurant, Maialino at the Gramercy Park Hotel, another establishment in Meyer’s 13-strong portfolio.

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The original USC – Meyer’s first restaurant – had a casual design and even an awkwardness embraced by customers. The service and the people defined the hospitality. Meyer adorned the walls with his collection of American art and the restaurant had a simple, cosy, neighbourhood feel, with a hodgepodge of small rooms on different levels with low ceilings.

In moving to a new, much larger location, Meyer wanted to preserve the charm, intimacy, and familiarity of the original USC — its DNA— for long-time customers, while also attracting a new generation of diners with a fresh, contemporary dining

environment.

DESIGN HIGHLIGHTS: 

EXTERIOR

Guests enter USC from 19th Street, a more intimate and residential transition from the street than busy Park Avenue South. The original USC red entrance canopy was reinterpreted here and the original neon red “Union Square” sign was relocated. The top halves of the three double-height window bays that run the length of the restaurant and face 19th Street are filled with panes of frosted wire glass that border transparent wire glass, framing views of the surrounding architecture. Café curtains are hung 5’2” off of the interior floor, in order to provide street-level diners privacy from the foot traffic outside.

STREET LEVEL

When guests enter the restaurant from a glass and metal-framed vestibule with a residential-scale door, they face a mahogany wood bar, with a green leather accent stripe and bronze reveals, that is purposefully incorporated into the buzz of the rest of the dining area. It is lit by custom, spun metal pendant lights, with a burnished copper finish, that come to 6’10” to match the original USC bar pendant height.

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A cherry wood stair with a wool sisal runner and bronze and wood railings leads to the mezzanine level dining spaces and visually divides the main floor in half, along with a coffee/service station.

The main dining area is scattered with a mix of 2-, 4-, 5-, and 6-tops. The floor is covered with wide-plank cherry wood (a more modern take on USC’s original narrow planks) and green and white concrete tiles surround the bar area, also a nod to the original USC. The bar is more integrated into the ground floor since many guests preferred to dine at the bar in the original space.

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Inspired by the old location, the new bar design includes a mahogany top, cherry and walnut front panelling with an antique bronze inlay and green leather accent.

Custom pendant lights are staggered over the main dining room. They have perforated metal diffusers and enamelled metal shades below (in USC’s signature green, a distinctive hue used in the original restaurant). Rockwell alternated dark grey acoustic panels on the ceiling with light grey beams.

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The pendant lights hang at 9 feet in order to bring down the scale of the double height space.

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The walls are a bright white plaster with green millwork wainscoting. Artwork is still a key focus in the new USC, Meyer’s collection — featuring works by Frank Stella, Claes Oldenberg, Robert Kushner, and Judy Rifka —has been remounted and reframed and is featured throughout the restaurant.

 

BACK OF HOUSE

The main kitchens are located on the ground floor and in the cellar, and are more spacious than the kitchen in the former USC. The additional space allows the chefs to create more items in-house.

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A kitchen on the mezzanine level helps ensure that meals arrive tableside at the perfect temperature for guests of the private dining room. The new space will also include a 650 SF wine cellar, champagne room, and luggage room for tourists visiting on their way in or out of the city.

 

MEZZANINE

The mezzanine level has clear sightlines to the ground floor, allowing diners to see the activity below through dark bronze metal railings.

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There are two private dining rooms on this level—one is an open 16-seat wine room, and the other seats 54.

The larger private dining space has a herringbone patterned cherry wood floor and a dark green, coffered ceiling with white acoustic plaster inlay. Dark green millwork panelling on the walls creates a warm, study-like feeling.

 

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A smaller bar on the mezzanine level is an important “artefact piece”—a 12-foot piece of the original USC bar and original glass pendant lights.  This area has a designated dining banquette surrounding it and is envisioned for those regulars who are “in the know,” where it feels like coming home.

Rockwell Group

Photography:

Images by Chaunte Vaughn and Emily Andrews.

SALONE DEL MOBILE 2016

World’s most important furniture design event in Milan is coming! From 12 to 17 April, Salone del Mobile 2016 will marks 55th edition. Milan Design Agenda gives you all information you need to enjoy this event. Eurocucina, Salone del Mobile, Salone del Bagno…The week-long program brings forth special events, exhibitions and product presentations, where everyone who’s anyone on the international furniture and manufacturing scene comes together to observe and get-in-tune with the latest industry developments. Salone del Mobile 2016 is the place where new furniture products are launched annually, and is the must-see sectoral appointment every year, continuously reaffirming Milan’s role as the capital of design.

WAN Future Projects Education Award 2015 Winner Announced: OSPA Arquitetura e Urbanismo winners for their UFCSPA Campus Igara project in Canoas, Brazil

OSPA Arquitetura e Urbanismo won the WAN Future Projects Education Award 2015 for their outstanding work on the UFCSPA Campus Igara project in Brazil.

The winner was chosen from a shortlist of six high calibre international projects by WAN judges, who also wished to make special mention of one of the other shortlisted projects: NAC Architecture’s school project in Seattle, Hazel Wolf K-8, which came an extremely close second. Continue reading WAN Future Projects Education Award 2015 Winner Announced: OSPA Arquitetura e Urbanismo winners for their UFCSPA Campus Igara project in Canoas, Brazil

Tama Table – Winner of the Wallpaper* Design Award 2016

Every February Wallpaper* – a leading international lifestyle magazine – presents its design awards for exceptional achievements in architecture and interior, fashion and beauty, travel and media.

The occasional table Tama by EOOS received the Wallpaper* Design Award 2016 in the category “Best Lair”. The Wallpaper* jury was impressed: “In terms of shape, Tama is reminiscent of sculptures by Alexander Calder.” Walter Knoll has been awarded this coveted prize in the past: in 2013 for the sofa Gordon and in 2015 for the Jaan bed.

To find out more about this and all other award winners, take a look at the current February issue of Wallpaper* (no. 203) or go to www.wallpaper.com. Be inspired.

WALTER KNOLL

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This year marked AIA|LA’s grand return to Downtown Los Angeles, with the Design Awards being held at three historic Downtown Los Angeles venues: the Bradbury Building, the Million Dollar Theater and Grand Central Market. A pre-reception cocktail party kicked things off at Francis Krahe & Associates’ 5th floor offices inside the Bradbury Building. Guests then proceeded to the Million Dollar Theater for drinks and the ceremony. Continue reading AIA|LA Announces 2014 Design Award Winners

Fulton Center by Grimshaw

205b7e1a5824428a8e6b2e4a68be2eeaSituated in the heart of Lower Manhattan, MTA’s Fulton Center is designed to be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the area. Handling an average of 275,000 passengers per day and linking eight subway lines, the station complex is one of New York City’s busiest underground transit interchanges. Continue reading Fulton Center by Grimshaw

Crest Installation for ME by MELIA at the V&A Museum for London Design Festival

photo by Luke Hayes

photo by Luke Hayes

Crest is an experimental sculpture that tests new design and construction technologies applied to a material of minimal thickness; investigating the relationship between formal arrangement and structural performance. Designed as a temporary installation which will remain at the V&A during the London Design Festival, Crest will then be taken to Dubai to be installed at the ME Dubai hotel. Continue reading Crest Installation for ME by MELIA at the V&A Museum for London Design Festival

The Science Museum Chose Zaha Hadid Architects to design new Mathematics Gallery

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Zaha Hadid Architects have been chosen by the Science Museum to design a pioneering new mathematics gallery, made possible by the largest individual donation ever made to the museum from long-standing supporters of science David and Claudia Harding. Continue reading The Science Museum Chose Zaha Hadid Architects to design new Mathematics Gallery

Thiénot New Tasting Showroom in Paris by Laure Girodroux & Karolina Lubkowski

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The french brand Thiénot Bordeaux-Champagnes inaugurated in june its new showroom in Paris with an amazing presentation & tasting space, created by two young interior designers, Laure Girodroux and karolina Lubkowski. The new Thiénot’s professional showroom, located in the heart of Paris is destined to welcome, among other people, the most prestigious restaurant chefs’ and sommeliers, its conceptual design has been imagined by the two interior architects, Laure Girodroux and Karolina Lubkowski, who used to collaborate with the famous french designer Ora-Ito. Continue reading Thiénot New Tasting Showroom in Paris by Laure Girodroux & Karolina Lubkowski

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Dancing Dragons is a pair of landmark supertall mixed-use towers design for Yongsan International Business District in Seoul, Korea. The buildings, which include residential, “officetel” and retail elements, consist of slender, sharply angled mini-towers cantilevered around a central core.  The design aesthetic is highly contemporary yet informed by aspects of traditional Korean culture. Continue reading Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture