Nestled among the skyscrapers of “billionaire’s row” are the historic jewels of Midtown Manhattan’s rise into the sky, the fashionable towers built by companies like Goodrich and General Motors, in muscular iterations of gothic revival, Viennese Secessionism and Art Deco styles. Designed by Carèrre & Hastings for the Fisk Tire company in 1920, the Fisk building’s 26 floors taper back in a series of terraces.

Project Name: 250 West 57th Street
Architect: Cookfox Studio
Status: Built

© Eric Laignel

Cookfox chose the 17th floor to explore the next generation of workplace, a studio designed to join three planted terraces in an expression of our mission to connect people to nature within the built environment. Entry is defined by a crisply demarcated gallery hall, its expanse of exhibition walls and rhythm of concrete beams establishing a sense of focus and groundedness. Through a second portal, the low-ceilinged domestic refuge of the reception area gives way on either side to exaggerate the height of the ceiling, transitioning the axis of circulation to an east and west orientation, anchored by framed views of the gardens at each end of the studio space.

© Eric Laignel

To the east is the sunrise terrace, where a garden and hydroponic towers connect to the “harvest kitchen” and dining area, designed to facilitate creative social communion and connection to nature. Across the studio on the sunset terrace, outdoor gathering areas allow staff and visitors to meet in a landscape of native trees, wildflowers, sedums and grasses. With a third viewing garden, the three planted spaces incorporate plants and soil moved from our former studio, providing habitat to local fauna and continuing nearly a decade of care and stewardship of the former rooftop garden by Cookfox staff.

© Eric Laignel
© Eric Laignel

Visual and physical connections with the nature of the terraces extend into the studio space in the use of natural materials and textures which stimulate the same positive, healthy biological responses. The lighting system prioritizes daylight and supports healthy circadian rhythms, while high-quality air filtration with zoned temperature control through the Comfy app, CO2 monitoring and use of low-VOC materials ensure the best possible indoor air quality and aid in the studio’s LEED Platinum and WELL certifications.

Cookfox Architects

Cookfox Architects, DPC is an architectural and interior design studio of 98 architects, interior designers, graphics and visualization artists, communications and support staff. Founded in 2003 by Rick Cook and Bob Fox, the firm is now led by six partners and founding partner Rick Cook.

They have built a studio focused on high-performance, environmentally responsive design and are most well-known for innovative design at the highest standard of environmental performance, including One Bryant Park, the first LEED Platinum commercial skyscraper; their current studio which has achieved LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certification; and a high-performance biophilic design for 150 Charles, a residential condominium building which achieved LEED Gold.

Their work is focused on biophilic design to create architecture that supports physical health and mental wellness. The studio’s portfolio of diverse residential, workplace, and education projects has been driven by their belief that healthy environments are connected to nature with physical, visual and psychological connections that stimulate their innate positive biological responses to nature and natural processes.

Beyond high-performance design, Cookfox is known for their rigor in research of the natural and cultural history and context that informs the work. They are also known for their ability to lead large and diverse project teams, client groups and public stakeholders to accomplish complex public approvals through city and state agencies and navigate complex regulatory processes.

Cookfox is deeply committed to social equality in their work and operations. Through their designs, they are passionate advocates of architecture that promotes equality. They have worked to diversify their portfolio to include supportive housing, affordable housing and educational facilities. Among their current projects are affordable housing in Brooklyn, supportive housing in the Bronx for formerly homeless individuals and a school building for at-risk children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


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