|Topic of the Month: Creo' Restaurant's Comfortably Chic Design |
Creo', which means "to create" in Latin, is the name that architect Scott Townsend of 3t Architects came up with for the creatively atmospheric restaurant he designed in Albany, NY. It's really a jewel of a building that juxtaposes elegance and refinement with a relaxed sense of whimsy, and it is no wonder that the project won an AIA/ENY Design Award in 2009.
The restaurant is located on a site where a Mangia Restaurant used to stand, which Townsend had also worked on in the early 1990's. When it came time to design Creo', Townsend explains, "The clients were trying to evaluate whether or not they should keep the building which, believe it or not, was originally a Howard Johnson's. At first they were debating what would be best for them, whether to gut the building and renovate it, or to build anew. We decided to build anew and our goal was pretty simple, although when you have a simple goal, it doesn't mean it's easy to achieve. We wanted to create a restaurant in this area that was extremely unique, a place where you wanted to be seen and go to without being pretentious. It was a place that was comforting and nurturing and at the same time it was really hip and cool."
Within the space, according to Townsend, "It is almost as if a whole series of events occur. In other words, when you walk into the building through the big, solid doors, you go through a sequence of entries. Once you're inside, there is a long beautiful bar which is a transition area because a lot of the time, that is where you sit and wait for your seat. Then you go into a very large open space and within that, there are smaller areas and an open kitchen all the way through. So it is a series of unique experiences."
In the central dining area, lights hang down from the ceiling like glowing droplets, lending a magical air to the space. Townsend explains, "Our goal was to create this little jewel box where you get glimpses of the inside. We knew that center space was going to be seen by a lot of people passing by, because the building is sitting in a fairly high traffic area, at least for this area. Our inspiration for the lighting was fireflies, so when it's night and the building is lit up from the inside, there are all these tiny little lights in the center and it's like looking out over a field and seeing fireflies."
"I'm a huge proponent of lighting design in general because it can make or break a space, so each different type of seating area has a different approach to its lighting. In the center, they can draw the curtains and create little banquet areas, the fireflies we were talking about feel much different than the lights we have over the bar to illuminate the bar. And then each booth has its own unique system for the lights."
The design of the interior with its use of bamboo and warm-toned horizontal pieces of wood has an Asian feel to it, although Townsend says the inspiration is a combination of the west and the east. "We took a philosophical approach in terms of the ambiance and feel, especially with lighting and bamboo and the treatment of material and how it all goes together. There are definitely eastern kinds of materials or techniques, but on the flip side when I say it's a reflection of the west, I'm talking about the west coast, specifically the Pacific Northwest."
"We wanted to use things that were unique and yet warm. For instance, we used cork floors all the way through the bar area, we did a double-sided fireplace, and we used mostly all woods to give it a nice, comfortable feeling so no-one feels rushed. In the dining area we focused on the views, both the in and the out, as well as just creating really nice natural light. We really worked hard on the lighting to get low energy lights, but again we used that to compliment all the different series of spaces. In a lot of restaurants you go into the big diningroom and it doesn't matter where you sit, it all feels the same. Some places are just ostentatious, you never get comfortable, but this is much more earthbound."
Townsend also used as many natural materials as possible. "We designed everything as green and sustainable as possible. We used the cork on the floors and did a variety of other things. We put in additional insulation which went much higher than the codes required so we could have a lot less energy use. The mechanical equipment we selected was extremely high efficient systems. In portions of the building we put in a radiant flooring system, which is a really nice way of heating the building, for comfort, so you don't get a blast of hot air. It's also highly energy efficient and a very effective way of heating a space. The other thing we did was to put a green roof on it, so about half the roof has plants on it. They've started doing all their herb gardens up there. We collected the rain water from the building and used that for the irrigation, so all of the plantings were not bringing in extra water."
With all of the thought that went into the aesthetic qualities of the building, as well as the green and sustainable aspects, it is quite an accomplishment considering construction took only five months. Townsend explains, "It was very fast tracked. The clients had a restaurant operating there that was generating revenue, so we had to plan it very well at the very beginning. Once they closed the other restaurant, they lost their revenue stream, so the longer it took, the more detrimental it was. Doing a project in such a short amount of time was definitely a big challenge, there's no doubt about it."
Overall the project is a true success. "It all works well together and we're very proud of it."
|Helpful Links for Architects|
AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: http://www.aia.org/practicing/groups/kc/AIAS076039
Architect Online's Continuing Education Center
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Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit: http://continuingeducation.construction.com
Architectural Record Discussion Forums
The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit: http://construction.com/community/forums.aspx
CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture
CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: http://www.corarchitecture.org
The Green Meeting Industry Council
The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:
The World Architecture Community
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