The Environments Group

The Manhattan offices
for Clausen Miller,
a low firm with
headquarters in
Chicago.

  If a design firm has worked with the same client for over 15 years, chances are that briefing sessions will be just that: brief. Such was the case with The Environments Group and Clausen Miller, a Chicago headquartered law firm about to move its New York office to larger downtown spaces.

Remaining in the Wall Street vicinity, the legal group settled on a 15,000-sq.-ft. floor in a 1960s office tower designed by SOM. The building's public spaces, most noticeably the lobby, recently had been redone - beautifully so, says TEG designer Traci Koehler - in the modernist style. So striking was the entry area's contemporary yet classic mien that its fine bone structure and complexion were to be visually transposed to the architecture detailing and finishes upstairs.

Implementation of the wanted look involved juxtapositioning of hard materials - limestone, stainless steel, selected woods - with natural organic forms such as white sand, birch tree trunk and branches.

 

 
  The elements, says Koehler, also serve to delineate function zones reached, in turn, by so-called bridges or pass-throughs. The illustrated reading zone (top right) and reception area (below) are emblematic of the strong identity given the lawyers' space. The designer/spokesman calls it "a whimsical sense of escape from the typical office environment." MONICA GERAN.

Carpet: Prince Street Technologies. Millwork: Premier Woodworking. Lighting: Lightolier; Solzi Luce. Chairs: Geiger Brickel (woven back), Fabric: Knoll; R. Jones (upholstered), fabrics: Knoll, HBS (bolsters). Table: HBF. Limestone flooring: Brann Caly.

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