This headquarters for a steam shower manufacturing company embraces the industrial nature of the firm’s business as well as the building itself, which MrSteam has occupied since the 1960s. Located in the commercial manufacturing district of Long Island City, the building contains MrSteam’s offices and manufacturing facilities. A minimal, bright redesign of the interior space highlights the raw, historic character of the hardworking building. The new design links past to present, revealing the original structural elements of the 1931 building with new insertions that meet the needs of MrSteam’s growing professional sales and operations staff.
Reconsidering the industrial building meant sandblasting the original concrete columns to reveal a palimpsest of original textures, materials and historic signage. Steel brackets clamped to these columns support floating plywood partitions in the open-plan office, which affords views of Manhattan and three bridges leading to the city. Full-height glazing delineates peripheral offices from the central workspace, bringing the healthful benefits of daylight through to the interior core. Throughout, an emphasis on clean, white walls and elemental, unfinished materials exists in a dialogue with the industrial vocabulary of the original space.
In the conference room lined with steel wall panels, a retractable overhead bi-fold door connects the meeting room with the adjacent showroom, allowing sales teams to reveal new products during client presentations. Historic terra cotta block walls were revealed and left untreated, allowing the original patina of the building to merge with new interior finishes.
“From the start, the client recognized there were some very interesting and beautiful elements in this historical manufacturing building – it just had to be reconsidered. It was exciting to unearth the possibility and potential that was lying just beneath the surface.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal