Facebook officially returned to Boston in 2013 with the opening of a new office at One Broadway in Cambridge. We had the privilege of designing that first office for them and now, 15,000 square feet later, we have completed three expansion projects — with a fourth under way.
With a strong focus on technology and brand culture, the office design is minimal, but full of character. Break-out spaces offer opportunities for group collaboration, international video conferencing, and individual focus with flexible furniture that adds life and color to an office striving to make work fun.
Flexible open office space design at our Facebook architecture project
Unique meeting room space design at our Facebook project
Cafe design featuring original wall art at our Facebook architecture project
Cafe and hallway design at our Facebook architecture project
Local artist Kawandeep Virdee’s art at the Facebook Journalism Project installation.
The importance of keeping the office focused on the local environment is evident in everything from the selection of art to room names like “Wicked Awesome” and “Chowdah” that introduce a little New England “flavah.”
Part of a public/private partnership, studioTROIKA is helping convert the Sheffield School in Newport, Rhode Island, into a hub of technological innovation and commercial entrepreneurship. The nearly 34,000 square foot school-turned-innovation-center aims at tapping into the local defense, marine, climate change, environmental and digital technology industries, providing a creative center for startups and diversifying and energizing the local economy.
However, after sitting vacant since the last day of school on June 23, 2006, the building has seen better days. Originally constructed in 1922 and added onto in 1934 as a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the school’s conditions are rapidly deteriorating.
The proof? Here are a few images of the school from a recent site visit:
Farm to fork food, first class service, and traditional New England ambiance is a given when dining at the Gibbet Hill Grill, in Groton, Massachusetts. Private seating in the silo, loft level dining, and galley tables, give guests options in how they’d like to experience this restaurant. What more could you ask for? The only piece missing, from this local, homegrown restaurant, was a spacious bar. Dream no more, because come spring 2017, that puzzle will be completed.
The Webbers, owners of the restaurant, have collaborated with studioTROIKA (Troika) and the Niemitz Design Group (NDG), to add a whole new experience to Gibbet Hill Dining. These three groups were just the beginning of an entire design/build team that came together, to bring their shared expertise, for this project to come to life.
Challenge one: Multiple design teams and construction crews
While the 665 square foot addition is not large, the project was complex. The exterior required careful design, the structure required delicate calculations, and the interior required top of the line style and finishes. This meant that there was a design firm for the envelope, another for the interior- A construction crew for the exterior, and another for the interior. Structural and mechanical engineers were also necessary for balance. The team was assembled from day one, and team meetings from schematic design through to construction were scheduled for a smooth flow of work. Adding to this complexity, the entire project is being built without closing the restaurant for a single day! Quality designers and builders, understanding their roles, collaborating and communicating often, is what made this all possible.
Challenge two: Exterior design
The existing Grill was a wonderful piece of New England farm style architecture. Converted from barn to restaurant over a dozen years ago, the original structure was re-worked, to form an asymmetrical structure that warmed your heart at first sight. studioTROIKA, in charge of the exterior expansion design, worked to compliment this asymmetry, so that the addition looks like it always belonged. To achieve this, the design team strategically used modern materials, to match the existing barn, such as concrete foundations, clad in local stone. Windows were carefully chosen to match the existing ones, but were strategically and asymmetrically placed. Finally, a standing seam roof was selected to create detail lines of harmony and balance.
Challenge three: The structure
In order to create this expansion, the last sheer wall remaining on that side of the building needed to be removed. This wall holds up the entire roof, along that side of the structure. Troika called in Consulting Structural Engineer (CSE) to collaborate on a solution. Together, Troika and CSE moved swiftly to size members, explore options, and recommend the best solution. We managed to work out a system which combined new steel columns, with reclaimed wood beams, which will add to and complement the existing barn style interior.
Challenge four: Interior design
The Niemitz Design Group, interior finish champions, took the reins on the finish materials, pulling out a stone bar top with matching quarry tile floors. They designed a steel back bar, which ties into the new structure. The reclaimed wood ceiling, shiplap walls, and vintage light fixtures tie into the existing, while making clear that the bar is fresh and new.
Challenge five: No challenge, just eat!
You heard us! Go eat! Construction is expected to be completed in early April. So far, we are on schedule to meet this, so get excited, because Gibbet Hill Grill is about to add 40+ more seats!
It was sophomore year of design school when my professor assigned me my first precedent study, the Farnsworth house by Mies van der Rohe, located in Plano Illinois. For me, this was when my true understanding behind architecture and design began to blossom.
“God is in the details.” – Mies van der Rohe
In 1945, Dr. Edith Farnsworth requested Ludwig Mies van der Rohe build a weekend retreat house. Mies had his mind set towards simplicity, something as we all know is very difficult to achieve in design. He accomplished this in such a brilliant way that the Farnsworth House is still something being looked up to in present-day modernization, remaining ahead of its time.
Mies’ design is thought out down to every last detail, which makes it just plain good design. He truly took into consideration all aspects — from the surrounding location, to the minimal limitation that played a huge part of the design, down to his selection in materials and furnishings. Attention to every last detail played a big part in making this piece successful.
The Farnsworth House is built near the Fox River, surrounded by thousands of trees, giving the house its independence. It was built next to a chosen specific tree that was incorporated into the design, helping influence the space planning inside the home. Mies simplified his design to three horizontal planes: platform, main floor and roof, unveiling a glass shoebox framed by white steel.
You can see through it as if it was part of nature, or as if it allows nature to flow through it.
The interior of the space demonstrates a whole new level of brilliance. The bathrooms’ wooden walls are the only walls in the entire interior of the house. His simple design working with one open space gave him the challenge to distinguish the dining room, living room, bedroom, kitchen and the bathroom apart from one another. He did so by creating a different sense of feel between the dining room, living room, bedroom and kitchen based on placement.
Mies chose to use travertine for the flooring, glass for his walls, and wood for the walls of the bathroom creating an exposed space to the outside. You can see through it as if it was part of nature, or as if it allows nature to flow through it. In a way, the trees play its walls. Looking in from the outside, it is hard tell the difference between each space because everything is nearly identical.
Each detail is strategically designed and this is something studioTROIKA emphasizes, from the overall concept to the last detail.
Every aspect of the house, right down to the details, creates a conversation with nature. Each detail is strategically designed and this is something studioTROIKA emphasizes, from the overall concept to the last detail.
This is what Mies concisely expressed when he quoted “god is in the details.”
–Contributed by Eleftheria Konstantinidis of studioTROIKA.
Recently, members of the studioTROIKA team attended a lecture organized by Passive House Massachusetts at the Boston Society of Architects Space. The lecture was given by Hank Keating, architect and owner of his very own passive house. Mr. Keating and his wife moved into their passive house about a year ago, after years of planning and 18 months of construction. What they have experienced is “…beyond [their] dreams.” The house is quiet, consistently comfortable, bright, and holds ambient warmth that creates a calming space throughout the year.
The house is quiet, consistently comfortable, bright, and holds ambient warmth that creates a calming space throughout the year.
“Passive house design” boasts several inspiring features in the planning and construction world. Unparalleled comfort is provided with thick wall systems that are super-insulated and airtight. ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilators) provide a constant supply of fresh air to promote a healthy and balanced indoor air quality.
The Keating Passive House also sports a solar array that provides the home more than enough electricity throughout the year, feeding the excess into the grid. During his lecture, Mr. Keating spoke several times about the windows and the beauty of the south facing glass, clearly thrilled with the effect that light and solar heat have on his home. The deep wall section also allowed the incorporation of window seats so that occupants can enjoy the warmth of the sun throughout the year. Best of all, perhaps, is that the Keating household never turned on their Mitsubishi Mini-Split heating system all winter last year! The house regulated itself by retaining heat during the day and holding it throughout the night.
The Keating household never turned on their heating system all winter!
While passive design principles were initiated in North America in the 1970s, the German Passivhaus Institut expanded on this research in the 1980s. Over the past several years, the Passive House Institute US has committed to developing performance standards for the diverse climate zones of North America. As these strategies become more mainstream, the desire for Passive House designation becomes increasingly popular in the design / build industry.
The studtioTROIKA team is working to integrate Passive House principles on larger scale projects throughout the Greater Boston Area. The clients of a recently acquired mixed-use project have already expressed interest in designing their building to Passive House standards. TROIKA is excited at the prospect of this rewarding and challenging design experience. However, the major question remains across the industry of how to market Passive House as a beneficial strategy for design in today’s world. The true benefits lie, as Hank Keating attests, in a vastly improved quality of life and a deep comfort rooted in this thoughtful and integrated design strategy.
While we were in the process of transforming the old Johnny’s Foodmaster into the new Harley Davidson of Boston, our engineer informed us that we needed to put ballast (rocks) back on top of our brand new rubber roof. On older rubber roofs, gravel used to be employed as ballast to weight the roof to keep it held down to the deck, but it’s unusual to use it on a newer roof.
In 2014, we had a tough time finding this to be an acceptable response. We asked Harley if they would be interested in putting solar ‘ballast” on the roof and they immediately agreed. Harley Davidson is an incredibly environmentally sensitive company.
The roof’s solar system has already generated over 700MW of power.
We partnered with SunBug Solar out of Somerville and placed 920 Sunpower 327’s on the roof, creating a 245,000KW system. To date this system has generated over 700MW of power in just 2 years of operation.
Much better than rocks.
– Contributed by Michael Samra, studioTROIKA principal.