July 20, 2015
Q&A with Meshberg Group's Adam Meshberg
Adam Meshberg, principal of the design consulting firm Meshberg Group, answers our questions on his company's new ventures, adaptive reuse, and much, much more!
by New York Spaces
NYS: You are the principal of the design consulting firm, Meshberg Group. Can you tell us what your company specializes in?
Adam Meshberg of Meshberg Group: We have two divisions: high end custom interiors and full-scope architectural services for residential, commercial and hospitality.
NYS: When and why did you decide to found your company?
AM: We were presented with opportunities to do some design work for an eight-unit condo building. I had spent the past six years working for other architects and felt I had the skill set to go out on my own.
NYS: Why are you so interested in adaptive reuse and historic restoration? What is so important to you about both?
AM: Since Brooklyn and Manhattan are predominantly comprised of older buildings, I like the challenge of trying to maintain traditional aesthetic with modern conveniences.
NYS: How did you transition from a career start in yacht design at Sparkman & Stephens to where you are now?
AM: While working with Sparkman & Stephens, I was focused on designing classical yacht interiors and styling, which has been a life-long passion of mine. I decided I wanted to transition into architecture, which is what I studied at RiSD and decided to keep yacht design as my hobby. This way, I would be able to keep my carrier and my passion separate.
NYS: Did it influence your design aesthetic in any way?
AM: Yacht design has influenced my design aesthetic by space planning efficiency, paying attention to detail and trying to integrate yacht construction materials and maritime elements into my designs.
AM: From working with J.P Franzen Associates, a renowned historical preservationist and traditional architecture firm, I learned traditional detailing of New England residential architecture, proportions, moldings and wood frame residential construction.
From working with Andre Kikoski, I have also learned how to communicate with developer clients, execute on large scale projects, and he taught me how to develop a modern and clean design aesthetic.
NYS: Why are you so interested in the redevelopment and growth of Brooklyn in particular?
AM: After living in Brooklyn for over 10 years now, I was able to see this as a period of the boroughs most rapid growth. It was and is developing into a popular up-and-coming city. I wanted to add to, and be a part of the changes. I feel lucky to have had an impact, and feel that Brooklyn is one of the best cities in the world.
NYS: Are you working on a project in Brooklyn now? If so, can you tell us about it?
AM: Our current Brooklyn projects include five new ground-up, multi-family residential projects, and two private town homes in Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill. Specifically with the town homes, which are historically laid out with many small rooms, we've been opening up the walls and creating a living environment centered around the kitchen. Not only does this create a seamless flow for entertaining and supporting contemporary family lifestyles, but it also helps incorporate more natural light into the homes.
With the multi-family projects, we've been concentrating on well planned and highly-designed lobby and common spaces that give the residents more to look forward to when coming home. We also concentrate on amenity-driven roof decks. We feel these new buildings are successful when they create a sense of community and help residents enjoy their shared living spaces.
NYS: What is one of the most interesting jobs involving historic preservation that you have taken to date?
AM: The most interesting would be the landmarked historic restoration of a Vinegar Hill, Federal-Style townhouse. I was able to take an uninhabitable townhouse and restore it by working with the Landmark Preservation Committee to create a single family four-story home.
NYS: What would be your dream job in terms of preserving a historic institution?
AM: Restoring and repurposing a large industrial building, like one within the Brooklyn Navy Yard would be a dream exercise in preserving a historic institution. I find it exciting to bring underused old buildings back to life. I like the challenge of working within the constraints of the existing structure.
NYS: Would you live in a building you designed?
AM: I have previously lived in a home I designed, and I currently reside in a condo I designed.
NYS: What is on the horizon for Meshberg Group?
AM: Meshberg Group is just getting started on more ground-up construction in Brooklyn and Manhattan. We are taking on more residential and private homes outside of the New York area. We will also continue with new construction, mixed-use, more adaptive re-use, and historic preservation projects.
We are looking for unique sites and clients that care about placing an emphasis on design and materials. We also look for environmentally-conscious types of projects, whether it be ground-up construction, hospitality, retail or commercial.
AM: Meshberg Group has over 10 years of experience in Brooklyn, renovating existing buildings, from single units to entire buildings. We have a comprehensive understanding of all types of construction and all the issues that can and will arise. Examples include 172 N. 10th St, 72 Berry, 139 N 10th St, 147 Kane, 107 Greenwich and 69 Gold St.
NYS: Was this a goal for the type of projects you envisioned for MG to get involved with?
AM: These project were not necessarily what I envisioned. However, I have lived in historic homes throughout my life, including a warehouse loft building when I moved to Brooklyn. It was then that I realized that I not only had the knowledge, but also the experience of being surrounded and familiar with this type of architecture.
NYS: Are you passionate about controlling urban sprawl and not contributing to it's increase when ever possible? Please explain.
AM: I am very passionate about controlling this. I feel that everything associated with this type of architecture goes against what Brooklyn stands for. This types construction lacks character, individuality, and a neighborhood feel. Brooklyn is built on diversity and already has enough buildings with character to adapt.
NYS: What are the deciding factors regarding if a building can be sustainably developed? Have you had the occasion where a building is just too far defunct or eradicated to make it work for this purpose?
AM: The first three questions are: Can the structure of the existing building support the new program? Does the building's current layout have the ability to be converted into new use? And finally, does the cost of this work make financial sense?
I have had to make this choice myself. A Brooklyn townhouse's brick walls were deteriorating so much so that the mortar had turned to powder, compromising the foundation. The cost to repair the building's walls were outweighed by the tear-down cost.