You could say the design of the basement cafeteria at 85 Broad Street in lower Manhattan has been put through its paces. The newly refurbished cellar space was barely a month old in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City and was completely flooded, destroying all the previous work.
Flash forward and, once the arduous task of clean-up was complete, the owner sought to “reposition” the cafeteria as an amenity space that could compete with area restaurants during the breakfast and lunchtime hours, in an effort to draw tenants back to the building. New York–based architecture firm Mancini Duffy and lighting design firm One Lux Studio were hired to formulate a new design that would make the windowless space feel open and expansive despite having no access to natural light.
The architect and lighting designer collaborated to choose lighting and finish selections in an effort “to make this dining facility a place where people want to come and enjoy a part of their day.” As a result, the contemporary decorative luminaire selection, combined with a neutral palette of wood, reflective metal surfaces, and gray and brown tones, creates an inviting space that does not feel claustrophobic or dimly lit.
One of the particular challenges that the design team faced was the low ceiling height of only 8 foot 6 inches. The designers worked with this impediment by creating open spaces with light-colored floors and a mirrored ceiling that inspire a feeling of lightness and makes the space appear larger than it actually is. This is countered with seating areas accented with wood finishes that provide a more intimate feel.
Other highlights in the main dining room include a color-changing luminous box that was designed as an illumination feature over one of the communal tables. Normally white, it can be programmed to change color for special events.
In the servery, a curvilinear stainless steel soffit is lit with an indirect LED covelight to highlight the free-form shape. LED downlights with a CRI of 90 and LED striplights concealed in the sneeze guard illuminate the food. Behind the server stations, the supergraphics are lit with LED wallwashers.
One of the most significant features of the design is the serpentine wall of vertical white baffles that runs the length of the dining area. Fitted with a color-changing uplight at its base, the entire wall is set to a slow scene-change so that the colors “magically appear” and recall the feel of natural daylight as it evolves during the day. The palette is limited to calm colors for everyday use, but can be switched to show modes for special occasions.
In this basement, light, materials, and finishes combine to create an inviting environment for building tenants in a space where natural light is hardly missed.
Project: 85 Broad Street, New York • Client: 85 Broad Street LLC—a subsidiary of MetLife Inc. • Architect: Mancini Duffy, New York • Lighting Designer: One Lux Studio, New York • Team Members: Stephen Margulies, Adriana Amendolara • Photographer: Eric Laignel • Project Size: 20,400 square feet • Project Cost: Not Available • Lighting Costs: $306,000 • Watts per Square Foot: 0.8 • Code Compliance: New York City Energy Code • Manufacturers: Kurt Versen (Hubbell Lighting), Mooi, Newmat, Philips Color Kinetics
Well balanced. • Solved a lot of problems. • Respectful of the materials. • Nice juxtaposition and choice of color temperatures. • Shows a level of simplicity and restraint.