“The industry of industry is actually quite beautiful. With the design for MrSteam, we wanted to uncover and respect the original industrial nature of the building. The hope was to reveal the underlying beauty of what industry represents, which is the engagement and harnessing of natural forces.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal
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.
“This design builds on a narrative that links the history and future of industry, exploring how historical systems are relevant to future systems, and vice versa. In making that connection, we wanted to create a place that was comfortable and functional for MrSteam today, but would also grow with the company and actually get better with time.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal
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.
Project Team: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal; Jamie Slagel, Principal / Project Manager
Key Consultants: Patrick Muecke, General Contractor; Innovative Engineering Services, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer