Corbero is often acerbic, tells extremely rude jokes, and has taught his pet parrot to swear like a trooper. He enjoys seeing people squirm. Astringent when talking about politics and money, he has no patience with American political correctness.
In two words, he absolutely embodies the regional characteristics of seny and rauxa (common sense and eccentricity) in equal measure. He is also extremely driven with regard to his work and international like no other Barcelona artist. Practically an institution in Catalonia, where his pieces in metal and stone decorate many a public place, he is collected worldwide.
Such a man could spawn only an extraordinary building. It’s essentially a tower surrounding a light well. Doors are few; staircases lead nowhere; narrow passageways connect to adjacent buildings, and best bean bag chairs for adults with memory foam bean bags create a comfortable open space inside the building. There are hanging gardens on the roof, and a central patio, adapted from the Mediterranean tradition of enclosed courtyards, drips with vegetation.
The arch motif that characterizes virtually all the inward-facing doors and windows appears again on the exterior–which is why, inevitably, it triggers recollections of some half-forgotten artist’s Tower of Babel.
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ARCHITECTURE’S REACH HOLDS perpetual surprises. Who would ever have imagined a meatpacking plant in Nebraska as a potentially progressive piece of commercial design? The founder of Randy Brown Architects Design/Build and his client, the Greater Omaha Packing Company, did–to rave reviews. The AIA gave the project the National Architecture Honor Award and also named Brown the 2002 young architect of the year.
A 3,500-square-foot executive facility on two levels, the project drew on not only the architect’s previous involvement but also the client’s 100-year history and ties to the Omaha stockyards, where the company is located. In 1997, the architect completed a strikingly contemporary sales-office addition to an existing steel-clad packing plant. Sales grew, the company prospered, and the client called Brown back for a third component to bring off-site executives into the fold. His primary concerns were a seamless integration of separate buildings and an equally strong interpretation of the wow factor.
Interior and design of the building
Brown’s turf was a 55-foot-wide by 58-foot-deep void between the facility’s sales and meatpacking arms. Within this compact area, he created a 23-foot-high structure fronted by a bowed glass-and-steel curtain wall. A galvanized-metal roof hovers above the most recent piece and extends over the common entry as a gesture of fellowship.
Brown’s new component, in contrast to the solid adjacent elevations, is a transparent jewel, with interior elements immediately visible and enticing. Inside, Brown organized offices for president, CEO, and controller, plus service areas, into an L shape on the 2,600-square-foot first level. Above, the 900-square-foot mezzanine accommodates a conference room and offices for bookkeeping and accounting, bridged by a concrete-and-steel catwalk that addresses context. “The old stockyards had catwalks so that buyers could inspect the cattle from above,” Brown says.
Overall, openness and interconnection prevail. “The focus is on the stair wall, which links spaces horizontally and vertically,” the architect says. Twenty-five feet long by 18 feet high, it features apple-core maple plywood panels and black-painted reveals, repeating a treatment dominant in the earlier sales quarters. The stair wall, which conceals the service core, extends to emphasize the stair’s central position. “The stairway is pulled into the space as a sculptural piece,” Brown says of the suspended steel, glass, and concrete composition. (Additional envelope materials include stainless-steel panels for a wall concealing rest rooms, granite tile flooring, sandblasted glass, and acoustical wood-fiber boards for the walls and ceiling.)
“One of the big challenges came from the fact that there was only one view, through the curtain wall,” says Brown. “How could everyone participate? How could everyone share light?” Considering sunshine as part of his materials palette, Brown clustered workstations toward the window wall and installed translucent glass doors on the offices to provide a partial solution.
He completed it with a dazzling light play. A 3-foot-wide by 29-foot-long slot in the roof forms a skylight. “It’s skewed over the catwalk and the mezzanine offices and conference room,” he explains. Below, he continues, perforated metal deflectors “bounce the light around–and in the summer act as a shade to the skylight.” Additional sunlight pours from a light shaft at the conference room and executive offices’ end of the building, enabling these areas to share the commodity. “The intent is to use light and shadows, rather than walls, to define volumes and spaces,” he says.
Brown notes that his final consideration was to “create an open environment where everyone `belongs’ when they walk through the door.” At the Greater Omaha Packing Company, that includes the fiberglass cow below the main staircase, too.
Dramatic style and function meet in the San Francisco offices of Babey Moulton Jue & Booth.
FOR A TIME, the San Francisco design offices of Babey Moulton Jue & Booth told the proverbial tale of the cobbler’s children. Quarters were always a bit too cramped to comfortably accommodate the firm’s growth from four people to 26 since its 1991 founding. But finding space in the Jackson Square area (where BaMo had previously occupied several sites) was no easy feat in one of the tightest real estate markets in the country. In 1998, skyrocketing rents drove partners Pamela Babey, David Moulton, GerryJue, and Michael Booth to explore SOMA, the region south of Market Street. Sure, the area is booming now. “But it was a secondary market then,” according to Babey. While reluctant to leave the familiarity of downtown, “we needed to find someplace to call home,” says Jue. What they located was a former light industrial building with a dingy, windowless interior. Yet this experienced crew, known for its four-star hospitality installations, had the foresight to see beyond dim conditions to a couture design situation.
Visible assets within the 9,500-sq.-ft. site included a double-height volume plus a mezzanine extending over roughly one-fourth of the space. Demolition further revealed an entire wall of factory sash windows that had been concealed by stucco. As environments go, dark and dingy gave way to expansive and light–at least when weather permits. BaMo now has a loft, with the characteristic attributes of gutsy columns, unmasked ceiling, and exposed ductwork, to call its own.
As an open studio
Throughout its history, the design firm has operated as an open studio; new quarters were to be no exception. On the ground floor, stations comprising the design studio hug the window wall, while a pair of conference rooms, library, and reception zone occupy the remainder of the space. Even these areas lack traditional doors. Conference rooms easily spill over to adjacent studio and reception areas via pocket doors; the library is defined merely through shelving that reaches to ten-ft, height. Partners are upstairs, “for better or worse,” says Babey. They, too, occupy open offices based on larger versions of the design studio’s U-configured, birch and plastic laminate stations.
The key to the project’s success is more intangible than concrete. It’s about energy, spirit, and the way the space is constantly evolving. Within this crisp white envelope–punctuated by brilliant red carpet as an antidote to black and gray–one is bombarded by visual cues alluding not only to projects past and present, but also to the firm’s refined sense of style.
At the time of our visit, for example, the sliding door between the conference room and studio was a virtual collage of Chinese tea papers. An adjacent tack surface displayed schemes for a Japanese restaurant in Santiago, Chile, a resort in Uruguay, and a hotel on the shore of Lago di Garda, Italy. In front of it were chairs being considered for use in various projects. Diametrically opposed in style, one chair was a casual willow model, the other a formal bergere covered in a combination of antique Fortuny and contemporary cottons. The conference room was similarly filled with objects seemingly unrelated, but quirky enough to garner attention. A hemp chest, a gift from its creator, Christian d’Astuguevieille, was paired with a custom coffee table and a simple Chiavari chair from Italy. Another grouping lent the air of a surrealistic stage set. These pieces comprised a pyramidal wood sculpture that’s part of BaMo’s collection, a tapestry-covered chair “that reminds me of a dog bone,” says Jue, Eames chairs, and D’Urso tables.
The office has art displayed throughout. Some of the prints and drawings are left over from the firm’s design of Milan’s Four Seasons hotel; others are by staff member Steve Henry. The reception zone is dominated by a Scott Waterman tryptich painting, commissioned for a client. Another of the artist’s large works enlivens the studio space. Together, art, objects, and attitude enforce the headquarters’ description by the principals: “It’s a machine for design,” says Moulton. And from Babey: “It’s a beehive of activity.” Now, BaMo not only has adequate quarters, but also a showplace that clients appreciate. And that was all part of the plan.
The first floor was completed in three months, the mezzanine a year later. Costs, excluding furnishings, came to $35 per sq. ft.
Best flooring for kitchen with dogs – Note for interiors
Get-it-right flooring For families, especially Best flooring for kitchen with dogs, the designers recommend a limewash finish on the floor. “Our preference is for American oak or European oak floorboards,” they say. “They have the best tone and grain of timber – great for limewashing and staining. In residential spaces the bigger the board width – such as 250mm – the better.”
Foolproof white After trying many alternatives the duo have settled on Dulux Antique White USA half strength as the perfect white for interiors. “It doesn’t have too much cream, grey or blue,” they say. It has been used on the walls of Tamie’s home; the floors are painted in the same colour and have been finished with three coats of sealant.
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Importance of proportion “We are really into balance and symmetry. Items don’t have to match but they have to be in proportion,” they say. For example, in Tamie’s living room the space taken up by the two occasional chairs is the same width as the sofa. “Bigger pieces make a room feel bigger. Too many little things make a room feel cluttered,” they add.
Rugs rule! They advise to place everything on a rug, including sofas, coffee tables and occasional chairs. “Don’t have a little rug in the middle,” Taryn says. “Many people seem frightened by it, and worried to cover the floor, especially if they’ve just had it sanded, but an itsy bitsy rug looks worse.”
Kitchen trick Whatever material is used on a kitchen benchtop, follow that through onto the splashback. For example, with marble, use it on both surfaces otherwise a kitchen can look fussy. And always follow the same flooring from the rest of the house into the kitchen.
A Fully Functional Tiny House Kitchen video:
Sophisticated sofas Slipcovers are a great way to freshen up your sofa, Tamie and Taryn suggest. They can even be used on contemporary sofas – look to Gervasoni for an example of this look. “We love using crushed cotton or linen from the Dominique Kieffer range of fabrics available at Boyac,” they say. “All the colours are very subdued and sludgey and have a relaxed feel.”
Window treatments The designers always use one of three options when it comes to windows. Muslin for a sheer, soft, Mediterranean holiday look; plantation shutters (which add value to a property); or Roman blinds in white linen.
Beautiful bathrooms To prevent a bathroom from being boring they like to use freestanding baths to give the room a sculptural element. The same goes for their choice of sinks. For tapware, a satin chrome finish is the top choice.
Bedroom idea “Always have something behind the bed to frame it,” they say. “We also use matching valances to tie the look together. It’s important to have lighting on either side of the bed, whether it’s a table lamp, floor lamp or pendants hanging from the ceiling.”
4ft Light and dark They like to have balance between light and dark items in a room. In Tamie’s living room a cabinet has been painted dark to counterbalance the sofas, coffee table and occasional chairs, which are all light.
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