Project DescriptionTasked with turning a drab abandoned warehouse into an inviting restaurant and bar, the team at Sanjay Puri Architects decided to approach the blank space as a work of art.
“The predominant factor governing the design was to create a sculptural feel to the interior spaces,” says Puri. He and his team found inspiration in reclaimed materials, working with leftover plywood and neglected strips of metal ducting. The repurposing of product that would otherwise have gone to waste (a technique that was praised by the judges) was driven by the architect’s desire to create a design that was both environmentally friendly and budget-conscious.
The team decided to integrate those materials into what Puri calls “an abstractly woven web.” Angled aluminum planes surround the exterior; the concept is carried into the lower-level bar and nightclub, which is sheathed in strips of galvanized metal. The palette is lighter in the restaurant on the upper level, where wood surfaces come into play. “I like the metal; I love the wood,” one judge said. “The wood undulating ceiling is spectacular.”
Though the use of two different materials makes the spaces feel distinct, the similar treatment keeps the design cohesive. A blended-material staircase acts as a transition.
Lighting design also played a “pivotal role,” with lights placed in such a way that they would bounce off the walls’ angles or filter through the panels and create a “sculptural light effect,” Puri says. Different-colored LED backlights are used on the nightclub level to enhance this visual effect.
One judge said of the end result: “It’s a playful environment, but it’s rigorously executed.” Puri’s account of the building process—in close collaboration with a carpentry team his firm has worked with for 20 years—confirms that description is accurate. “Points were physically marked on the site with threads and then lowered or increased in height to achieve a completely abstract appearance,” he says. “We created a small portion and then continued in different directions, modifying constantly.”
That effort was apparent to our judges, with one noting, “It took a lot of work to figure this out, and they really did.” Puri is equally pleased with the result: “The composition is different from whichever point one looks at it,” he says. “The concept of being within a sculpture is achieved, and this is the most gratifying part.”--by Laura McNulty