Black Ocean Headquarters
New York City
Rafael de Cardenas / Architecture at Large
“I don’t really like the dot com look,” explained Rafael de Cardenas, principal at Architecture at Large. For the digital media company Black Ocean, de Cardenas created a space that is industrial but sleek, infused with a bold graphic style that is his firm’s signature.
Located in a former firehouse with narrow floor plates, the building had serious constraints. Rather than hide those limitations, de Cardenas embraced them and celebrated the building’s fabric, like the Romanesque arched windows on the top floor. Florescent lighting in a zigzag arrangement snake down hallways and into open areas, providing a unifying element between narrow and more spacious zones.
On the ground floor a lobby and a casual stadium style seating area lead to a rear carriage house outfitted with conference rooms. Above are two floors of open offices and collaborative work areas. A strict color palette of white, black, and gray is punctuated by more luxurious materials, such as the copper accents seen, among other places, in the stair stepped pendant lights that illuminate open areas. Partner offices, one with a striking, multi-globe chandelier, and conference rooms fill the forth floor.
“I like graphic things, I respond to sharpness. We often use abstracted patterns to create visually buzzing elements,” said de Cardenas. In graduating from the childish, slacker aesthetics of early new media offices, Architecture at Large helped build buzz around its client.