The 70,000 members of the Service Employees International Union’s local 32BJ SEIU are the people who keep New York’s buildings running smoothly: doormen, security guards, porters, janitors, window cleaners, and food-service workers. “Our goal was not only to make it easier for members to navigate services and benefits but also to encourage their participation and leadership in the union,” 32BJ SEIU president Michael Fishman says. He’s the one who decided to hire Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects, to demolish virtually everything left over from previous tenants, including HOK and Gap, and start with a blank slate.
“During the design phase,” Randy Gerner says, “you always wonder, Will this really work?” Ironically, considering the configuration of the old office, the primary drawback at the new one was that the floor plates were immense—half a city block, avenue to avenue, and a full block, street to street. Navigating them would be challenging for visitors. Organizing all that space wouldn’t be easy either. As Gerner worked out plans for the services and administration level and the benefits level, he saw a similarity between their shape and the landmass of Manhattan. So, taking inspiration from the city plan, he defined neighborhoods for different departments, then ran a diagonal circulation route from corner to corner, like Broadway.
A private meeting area is one of the perks in Fishman’s corner office. It also boasts gigantic porthole windows original to the building. Because windows are such a scarce commodity overall, however, GKV brought natural light as far in as possible. In the legal department, glass enclosed offices borrow afternoon sun from the large windows nearby—one of the moves that may contribute to the project’s LEED certification.
Raul Barreneche —Interior Design, September 1, 2012
New York City
Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects ▪︎ NYC 10016
PK30 Scope of Work — 516 Linear Feet
(38) Swing doors + (138) Fixed Panels