Contract - Domesticating the Workplace

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Domesticating the Workplace

01 May, 2010

-By Michael Webb



Shubin + Donaldson is a firm of holistic architects who care as much about the details as the broad strokes of the many houses and offices they’ve built in southern California. That made them an ideal choice for Noam Murro, a visionary client, who wanted a new home for his company, Biscuit Filmworks, and a congenial base for his activities as a director of commercials. He bought a warehouse on what was formerly Route 66, a gritty boulevard close to the hub of old Hollywood, and told his architects: “I want a place with personality, not another generic conversion, a space that welcomes you without trying to impress.”

Murro studied architecture in his native Israel, before making a new career in California. Moviemaking, like architecture, is a collaborative art, and that spirit infuses the interior of Biscuit Filmworks. From the street, it appears as an enigmatic gray stucco box with a zigzag ornament along the cornice that places it in the late 1920s. Over the years, the building had been used as a recording studio and for the storage of cars, antiques, and flammable nitrate film. Window openings were blocked up, and two separate structures were consolidated by an earlier owner. Project architect Mark Hershman and his associates worked like archeologists to clear accretions and reveal the raw beauty of the original shell. The brick masonry was hand-scraped without removing its scars, and the concrete floor was cleaned and sealed after new wiring had been laid in trenches. The bow-truss roof vault was sandblasted and openings were inserted to pull in natural light. A decrepit house on the adjoining site was demolished to provide an enclosed parking lot, and a window wall marks the point of entry. X-braces were added at the perimeter to bring the structure up to code.

Russell Shubin is based in Los Angeles and his partner, Robin Donaldson, heads the firm’s office in Santa Barbara, but they work together closely and share a common language for the spaces: direct, unpretentious, and layered. All of those qualities are evident from the moment you step into the L-plan lobby. “We wanted it to look industrious, rather than industrial—like a Chelsea art gallery,” says Shubin. “We tried to make the new look old, or at least hard to tell apart.” Reclaimed timbers are topped with grained Carrara marble to form the reception desk. Behind is a low wall of boldly shuttered concrete and a glass-walled conference room, in which slender glazing bars of straight-grain fir are stiffened with narrow steel inserts. That mix of rough and refined and the juxtaposition of different materials are carried throughout. An abundance of natural wood lends warmth and texture; the industrial glass light shades emphasize functionality. For the lobby and conference rooms, Murro contributed some quirky chairs from his own collection, and he designed maple ply chairs and side tables that pay homage to Rudolph Schindler, the seminal figure of California modernism. These pieces were fabricated by production designer Brock Houghton.

Another conference room extends out of the lobby and can be enclosed with a roller shutter and a massive wood slider. Murro has a corner office that rises to the ceiling vault and is furnished with classic Le Corbusier seating (selected for its comfort), serious artworks, and a wall of books on architecture and design. An open kitchen has a floor and back wall of Moroccan-style blue and white tiles and a marble countertop that complement the utilitarian plywood table and stainless-steel cabinets. A steel staircase leads up to a mezzanine gallery that’s tucked in a bare 7 ft. below the roof beams. Perimeter offices are enclosed with ribbed glass set into the same steel and fir frames as downstairs, but here the proportions are residential, and you feel as enclosed as you would in an attic. Filmmakers sometimes pull all-nighters when there’s a pressing deadline, and it’s easy to imagine living here for days at a time.

Comfortable, adaptable, and modest, the interior also is a demonstration of sustainability. Donaldson observes, “From an environmental standpoint, the adaptive reuse of old buildings has become a really important aspect of our work…and, with the economy and environment as they are, we will probably be approached to do more of it.”

who 
Client: Biscuit Filmworks. Architect, interior designer, lighting designer: Shubin + Donaldson Architects. Structural engineer: Grimm & Chen Structural Engineering. Mechanical/electrical engineer: Simon Wong and Associates. General contractor: Sierra Pacific Constructors. Photographer: Tom Bonner.

what  
Wallcoverings: Elmwood Reclaimed Timber. Tile: Granada Tiles, Daltile. Paint: Benjamin Moore & Co. Laminate: Formica. Flooring: existing concrete, clear sealed. Carpet tile: InterfaceFLOR. Ceiling: existing bow-truss/existing concrete, plywood, and painted drywall. Lighting: Holophane. Doors: custom wood single-lite fabricated by Aranda’s Woodcraft. Window treatments: MecoShade. Reception desk chair: Denmark 50 (vintage Hans J. Wegner). Workstations: custom; fabricated by Aranda’s Woodcraft. Lounge seating and tables, kitchen table, conference room credenza: custom designed by Brock Houghton. Conference table: custom designed by Jason Koharik/John Cortese; fabricated by Seventh Designs Studio. Conference table seating: Amsterdam Modern (vintage DeCirkel). Library chairs: vintage Adolf Loos. Library table: KnollStudio. Kitchen stool: Herman Miller. Director’s office seating: vintage by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. Shelving: custom designed by Shubin + Donaldson with Unistrut supports and butcher-block shelves. Architectural woodworking/cabinetmaking: Aranda’s Woodcraft. Bath fixtures: Toto, Duravit, Elkay Companies, Chicago Faucets.

where  Location: Hollywood, CA. Total floor area: 11,734 sq. ft. No. of floors: 2. Floor size: 9,892 sq. ft. (floor 1), 1,752 sq. ft. (floor 2)/ Total staff size: approx. 16 full time, up to 60 freelance.



Domesticating the Workplace

01 May, 2010


Tom Bonner

Shubin + Donaldson is a firm of holistic architects who care as much about the details as the broad strokes of the many houses and offices they’ve built in southern California. That made them an ideal choice for Noam Murro, a visionary client, who wanted a new home for his company, Biscuit Filmworks, and a congenial base for his activities as a director of commercials. He bought a warehouse on what was formerly Route 66, a gritty boulevard close to the hub of old Hollywood, and told his architects: “I want a place with personality, not another generic conversion, a space that welcomes you without trying to impress.”

Murro studied architecture in his native Israel, before making a new career in California. Moviemaking, like architecture, is a collaborative art, and that spirit infuses the interior of Biscuit Filmworks. From the street, it appears as an enigmatic gray stucco box with a zigzag ornament along the cornice that places it in the late 1920s. Over the years, the building had been used as a recording studio and for the storage of cars, antiques, and flammable nitrate film. Window openings were blocked up, and two separate structures were consolidated by an earlier owner. Project architect Mark Hershman and his associates worked like archeologists to clear accretions and reveal the raw beauty of the original shell. The brick masonry was hand-scraped without removing its scars, and the concrete floor was cleaned and sealed after new wiring had been laid in trenches. The bow-truss roof vault was sandblasted and openings were inserted to pull in natural light. A decrepit house on the adjoining site was demolished to provide an enclosed parking lot, and a window wall marks the point of entry. X-braces were added at the perimeter to bring the structure up to code.

Russell Shubin is based in Los Angeles and his partner, Robin Donaldson, heads the firm’s office in Santa Barbara, but they work together closely and share a common language for the spaces: direct, unpretentious, and layered. All of those qualities are evident from the moment you step into the L-plan lobby. “We wanted it to look industrious, rather than industrial—like a Chelsea art gallery,” says Shubin. “We tried to make the new look old, or at least hard to tell apart.” Reclaimed timbers are topped with grained Carrara marble to form the reception desk. Behind is a low wall of boldly shuttered concrete and a glass-walled conference room, in which slender glazing bars of straight-grain fir are stiffened with narrow steel inserts. That mix of rough and refined and the juxtaposition of different materials are carried throughout. An abundance of natural wood lends warmth and texture; the industrial glass light shades emphasize functionality. For the lobby and conference rooms, Murro contributed some quirky chairs from his own collection, and he designed maple ply chairs and side tables that pay homage to Rudolph Schindler, the seminal figure of California modernism. These pieces were fabricated by production designer Brock Houghton.

Another conference room extends out of the lobby and can be enclosed with a roller shutter and a massive wood slider. Murro has a corner office that rises to the ceiling vault and is furnished with classic Le Corbusier seating (selected for its comfort), serious artworks, and a wall of books on architecture and design. An open kitchen has a floor and back wall of Moroccan-style blue and white tiles and a marble countertop that complement the utilitarian plywood table and stainless-steel cabinets. A steel staircase leads up to a mezzanine gallery that’s tucked in a bare 7 ft. below the roof beams. Perimeter offices are enclosed with ribbed glass set into the same steel and fir frames as downstairs, but here the proportions are residential, and you feel as enclosed as you would in an attic. Filmmakers sometimes pull all-nighters when there’s a pressing deadline, and it’s easy to imagine living here for days at a time.

Comfortable, adaptable, and modest, the interior also is a demonstration of sustainability. Donaldson observes, “From an environmental standpoint, the adaptive reuse of old buildings has become a really important aspect of our work…and, with the economy and environment as they are, we will probably be approached to do more of it.”

who 
Client: Biscuit Filmworks. Architect, interior designer, lighting designer: Shubin + Donaldson Architects. Structural engineer: Grimm & Chen Structural Engineering. Mechanical/electrical engineer: Simon Wong and Associates. General contractor: Sierra Pacific Constructors. Photographer: Tom Bonner.

what  
Wallcoverings: Elmwood Reclaimed Timber. Tile: Granada Tiles, Daltile. Paint: Benjamin Moore & Co. Laminate: Formica. Flooring: existing concrete, clear sealed. Carpet tile: InterfaceFLOR. Ceiling: existing bow-truss/existing concrete, plywood, and painted drywall. Lighting: Holophane. Doors: custom wood single-lite fabricated by Aranda’s Woodcraft. Window treatments: MecoShade. Reception desk chair: Denmark 50 (vintage Hans J. Wegner). Workstations: custom; fabricated by Aranda’s Woodcraft. Lounge seating and tables, kitchen table, conference room credenza: custom designed by Brock Houghton. Conference table: custom designed by Jason Koharik/John Cortese; fabricated by Seventh Designs Studio. Conference table seating: Amsterdam Modern (vintage DeCirkel). Library chairs: vintage Adolf Loos. Library table: KnollStudio. Kitchen stool: Herman Miller. Director’s office seating: vintage by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. Shelving: custom designed by Shubin + Donaldson with Unistrut supports and butcher-block shelves. Architectural woodworking/cabinetmaking: Aranda’s Woodcraft. Bath fixtures: Toto, Duravit, Elkay Companies, Chicago Faucets.

where  Location: Hollywood, CA. Total floor area: 11,734 sq. ft. No. of floors: 2. Floor size: 9,892 sq. ft. (floor 1), 1,752 sq. ft. (floor 2)/ Total staff size: approx. 16 full time, up to 60 freelance.
 


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