April 5, 2017
Q&A with DXA Studio's Wayne Norbeck and Jordan Rogove
Led by Wayne Norbeck and Jordan Rogove, DXA studio has designed high-end residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments in New York and around the world
by New York Spaces
NYS: Tell us about DXA Studio. What are you known for?
DXA Studio: At DXA studio, we're known for an unusual combination of high quality design coupled with technical know-how and expertise with complex regulatory approvals. We are equally comfortable conceiving ground-up contemporary buildings as we are proposing sensitive interventions and renovations in landmark districts. Through all of our projects we bring a research-based approach that attempts to capitalize on all of the opportunities, site, and programmatic features available to the project.
NYS: When and why did you both decide to found DXA Studio?
DXA Studio: We opened our doors in 2011. We both worked at prominent firms in New York City and when our
clients began to ask us to step away and start our own practice and we won an international competition for housing in Haiti, the opportunity to launch became undeniable. It was an amazing opportunity and we worked very hard to make the studio into a place where design is the primary focus. We've enjoyed shaping the studio into a collaborative working environment where innovation and creativity are explored with our incredibly talented staff.
NYS: What is a favorite project for each of you and why?
Wayne Norbeck: There are so many good candidates, but I thoroughly enjoyed working with Modo Yoga on their new location in Williamsburg. It was great to work directly with the owners to craft a place that's highly tailored to their specific needs for yoga practice. While the existing space presented a charming fac?ade and was column-free, there were no windows except at the entry. We used material cues from the neighborhood, added sustainably-focused elements such as a living green wall and balanced out the sequence through the space with carefully placed skylights that wash the primary rooms with light.
Jordan Rogove: There's a two-way tie for my current favorite project in the studio; the Mt Pleasant Church conversion on the Upper West Side and the ground-up 14 White in TriBeCa. Both projects use inventive contextual design to create buildings that will contribute to the historic districts they are located in: a dialogue with the magnificent neighboring cast iron facades with an acid-etched bronze envelope at White Street and a fully restored Romanesque church building juxtaposed with a contemporary glass-and-steel addition, a design solution that keeps the congregation on site, remaining a vital part of the community.
NYS: How do you gravitate between working on high-end residential, commercial, and mixed-used developments? What keeps you sane?
DXA Studio: We love that our practice is so diverse in terms of project types, and in many ways, that diversity is what keeps us sane. At the moment we're working on everything from a 100-square-foot coffee shop up to nearly a million square feet in Detroit, with every scale in between. Our philosophy is that we begin each new project with intensive research into the site, program, and client, and therefore each project's design solution is unique. That approach means we can easily move between scales and project types; it's that freedom and variety that keeps the studio an exciting and dynamic place to work.
NYS: Where are some of the most incredible locations you have worked on a project in? And where would you most like to work, and on what type of project?
DXA Studio: We were fortunate to win an international design competition for health-focused housing in Haiti, and as a result we've been to the country on multiple occasions to meet with the client and oversee construction. The site is in a remote valley east of St. Marc, and it's a breathtaking setting. This relationship led us to Namibia, where we trained technicians in construction methods we developed to seal homes in order to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever. Both of these projects have been incredibly rewarding and it's been an incredible experience to travel to these beautiful and fascinating locations.
Beyond that, we are spreading our reach to places such as Detroit, Washington DC, Virginia and Los Angeles, and future opportunities in Africa are coming into focus. Ultimately we have our sights set on working across the country and would love to expand into international markets, pursuing cultural and public projects such as sporting venues and museums.
NYS: We understand you were tapped to design the lobby, residences, and amenity spaces of 242 Broome—a luxury condominium within Essex Crossing. Tell us what to expect? Also, why is Essex Crossing so important?
DXA Studio: The development of Essex Crossing is an incredible moment in the history of the city because it's so rare to revitalize a portion of a neighborhood of this scale, which is a staggering 1.9 million square feet. Delancey Street Associates, the developers behind Essex Crossing, aimed to preserve the spirit of the neighborhood while enhancing the livable urban experience.
The concept of our design is to celebrate a neighborhood with a fascinating history and bridge any sense of discord between that history and the creation of a high-end residential experience. We approached this by subtly incorporating elements that we felt were vital to the Lower East Side, especially materials and textures that compose a daily experience there. The end result we think will be a palette that balances a sense of grittiness with one of refinement.
NYS: What kind of elements and materials are you incorporating to reflect the neighborhood's gritty, artistic character?
DXA Studio: We took inspiration from the metalwork that you see in the neighborhood including metal-clad storefronts, diamond plate hatches, and prismatic vault lighting. Upon first entering the space, one will be greeted with a thin plate blackened steel entry portal that distinguishes the residential entry from the commercial storefronts of the building. The lobby floor is polished concrete, common of the gallery scene in the neighborhood. Blackened metal work continues in textured lobby wall panels as well as in selected elements in the public spaces. We balance out these materials with warm wood panels to create a balanced residential environment.
NYS: How are you bringing the exteriors indoors at 242 Broome?
DXA Studio: Designed by SHoP Architects, the 242 Broome fac?ade features champagne-colored anodized aluminum panels that derive their warm color palette from the neighborhood. The bends and angles in the metal are meant to mimic the iconic fire escapes of the surrounding buildings. We brought the design motif of the exterior into the building's common spaces. For example, abstract geometric panels that echo the fac?ade's design appear on a lobby wall, as well as on casework in the entertainment lounge.
NYS: Why is it so important to create a balance between material and light? And, how will you do so at 242 Broome?
DXA Studio: Inside the residences, dark wood panels and large windows create a dramatic backdrop for the minimally detailed kitchens dressed with simple yet elegant stonework. The bathrooms are detailed with refined stone surfaces and all-glass shower enclosures that frame key views of the Manhattan skyline. We spend a lot of time thinking about natural light on all of our projects, often letting exposure define spatial arrangements and material selections. In our estimation, and as fellow light deprived New Yorkers, maximizing the effect of natural light in the apartments helps create a sense of calm, a respite from the craziness of daily life necessary for health and well being.
NYS: What have been your favorite aspects of working on 242 Broome?
DXA Studio: It has been exciting being a part of such a large, ambitious and transformative project. Our project represents only the first in a series of buildings that will chart a new course for this part of the neighborhood. Being the first it is also likely that our creation will set the tone for the development to come, which is a thrill for us.
We also really enjoyed the collaboration and shared vision with SHoP and Taconic Investment Partners of Delancey Street Associates, and the inherent complexity in creating something both new and authentic, and gritty yet luxurious and refined. We think the end result is a place many fans of the Lower East Side would love to call home.
NYS: When can we move in?
DXA Studio: 242 Broome is slated to open in early 2018. The sales gallery, which is currently open, is located at 92 Orchard Street.
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