What is a club? We were asked to define this question both programmatically and tectonically for a new 30,000 sq. ft. facility in mid-town Manhattan. What defines the space for an association with an elite, yet culturally diverse membership? The Owner’s brief suggested a collection of disparate programs - theaters, galleries, dining, drinking, office, meeting spaces, library, spa, therapy room, personal grooming and salon, and exercise facility. We decided that it is the culture of a club that allows it to be more than a mere collection of programs and therefore the tectonic of a club should be a legible physical expression of the club’s culture. One must code the clubs ethics into the DNA of the architecture.
As our charge was to transform the moribund notion of the old world club into a new contemporary paradigm the very idea of transformation informed the program, detailing and material palette. The transformation of programs, materials, and expectations became a guiding principle in shaping the specific spaces.
Like New York City, the Core Club exploits the vertical movement between the floors as well as the potential transformative nature of common building materials. WIthin the clubs five floors a constellation of programs are arrayed from the ground up. Adjacent the entry to the club, communal spaces, such as the theater, dining and meeting spaces embrace and embody the dynamic nature of the street and urban life. Moving upward, public and communal spaces give way to more personalized, individual spaces and treatments.
One enters the club through a discreet, yet clearly differentiated storefront. Here, the chamfered geometry, a kind of talisman which transforms as one moves through out the club, is a rippled, undulating tunnel made of terrazzo and white lacquer. The 55 seat screening room is an expansion of the tunnel like entry space articulated by a series of overlapping shells covered in burlap. A commissioned electrified curtain by David Salle creates an “eye” or focus for the space. The programs of the second floor are arrayed around a central “core”; circulation is centripetal as one moves from the lounge to the bar to the informal dining to the formal dining. The “core” is created through the manipulation of common oak wood into a tightly chamfered solid. At the heart of the third and fourth floor is a slot of open space, the antithesis of the second floor central solid, enveloped in solid white marble slabs. A slatted wood and marble stair slips through the slot connecting changing rooms, steam rooms and saunas with a gym. Materials, simply and elegantly used through out the floor, create a monolithic sense of space. At the top floor the spa’s individual treatment suites are the most dramatic incarnation of the manipulated wood material. Critical surfaces become those one focuses on during a treatment - the ceiling and the floor. Parquet wood flooring is rendered in a custom triangulated pattern reminiscent of the chamfer as if it were flattened. Treatment cabinets and ceilings are an exploded version of the chamfer and give way to an occulus of light which defines each room as a core space organized around each individual members needs.