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Nyc’s Top 20 Commercial Interior Design Firms Of 2018

Nyc’s Top 20 Commercial Interior Design Firms Of 2018 Nyc’s Top 20 Commercial Interior Design Firms Of 2018

Adidas’ flagship store at 565 Fifth Avenue makes for a great example. The 45,000-square-foot space was created so that customers felt more than they were just shopping.

“There’s a warmth to the space that is far above your typical banking client,” Spector told CO in January. “It’s not heavy white marble; it’s not repetitive work stations all over the place…This is more refined.”—R.B.R.

Fogarty Finger is handling the exterior and interior design for several prominent New York City projects, including the redevelopment of the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, Dock 72 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Uber’s second New York City office near Bryant Park.

“It’s an unusual building, because it’s 50 percent commercial and 50 percent residential,” said Robert Finger, one of the firm’s founders. “Our office reflects that. We do a significant amount of multifamily in addition to our commercial work. I think that had a lot to do with why were awarded that job. Our firm is equally focused on architecture and interiors.”

On the landlord front, the interior design firm recently did prebuilts at Equity Office’s 44 Wall Street in the Financial District. At that property and others that MKDA works on for property owners, Kleinberg said the emphasis is on designing something that gives the building a unique sense of place.

“This idea of creating a common culture and bringing people together are what [clients want],” Apking said.

In the Meatpacking office building on West 15th Street, that more “mature aesthetic” meant warmer light, black wood walls with built-in shelves, black kitchen tiles, marble counters and light wooden accents and furniture. The building’s developer and landlord, Rockpoint Group, has already inked five leases for office tenants there, and all but one has asked for office designs in the style of the prebuilt floors, Finger said.—R.B.R.

For the offices of Rauxa, the country’s largest women-owned advertising agency, Spector took advantage of double-height floors to create large meeting spaces with stadium-style seating. Spector also built out a large café and lounge for big company meetings.  

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Meanwhile, the firm is also presently busy with Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center parent company Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment’s new Industry City corporate offices, which will span a reported 70,000 square feet, and is handling Alaska Airlines’ new lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport—which TPG said will feature a design emblematic of a national rebranding for the airline in the wake of its recent acquisition of Virgin America.

Another one of Spector Group’s major projects last year was the new office for the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. The bank moved up a floor and expanded to 64,000 square feet from 42,000 square feet in its longtime home at 101 Park Avenue. To make the new office feel warm, Spector outfitted the furniture, ceilings, and stairways in a combination of walnut wood and brushed bronze.

FXFOWLE Architecture firm FXFOWLE is getting more into the nitty-gritty when it comes to interior design. Architecture firm FXFOWLE is getting more into the nitty-gritty when it comes to interior design.

With its assignment to do the interiors (as well as the exteriors) of a Greenpoint, Brooklyn hotel at 60 West Street for developers Jack and Joshua Guttman, the company is advising on everything from the cutlery to the hardware to the structural beams.

“It got very, very granular beyond what the firm is known to do in the past,” said Angie Lee, the design director for FXFOWLE, who oversees the design vision for firm-wide interiors. The hotel is the most “unique” and “ambitious” project the firm has done, Lee said, “in terms of doing an interior that has such a branded concept that carries so constantly throughout in interiors and influencing our teams on the base building project.

” With its modern and holistic sensibility, FXFOWLE has been working on New York City projects since the firm’s inception over 38 years ago. Of its projects, about 30 percent, or 11, are interior jobs, bringing in revenue of $9.

2 million, Lee noted. Nine of the 11 projects are in New York City; the other two are in Boston. The interiors encompass 1.2 million square feet. Another New York City interiors project FXFOWLE has underway is creating offices for a policy institute group at the Asia-focused nonprofit organization Asia Society at 725 Park Avenue.

The design calls for open, light-filled offices with transparent walls plus a “think-tank/boardroom” with lots of high-tech AV monitors, mobile white boards, tables that break apart and walls that open, Lee said.

“It is quite interesting to see they are very forward-looking in terms of where they want to go,” she said. And the architecture firm is working on Purves, Brause Realty and the Gotham Organization’s residential building at 44-28 Purves Street in Long Island City, Queens, that should be completed by early next year, Lee said.

(A rendering of the lounge for 44-28 Purves Street is above). “It feels very much like a Brooklyn vibe, which is being expected globally,” she said. “It captures this notion of bringing the outdoor indoors.

” To that end, when you enter the lobby, you can see the outdoor space beyond the mailroom. There will be a courtyard with an outdoor movie theater as well as outdoor and social lounge spaces.—L.L.


A+I has attracted numerous other tech and media clients including Tumblr, iHeartMedia and Horizon Media—the latter having called on the interior design firm several times, most recently last year, as it has expanded its footprint at 75 Varick Street in Hudson Square. And in one of the biggest items on the firm’s docket, the partnership of Hines, Norges Bank and Trinity Church tapped A+I to handle design and renovation work at six of the 11 buildings comprising the landlords’ expansive Hudson Square office portfolio.

Ted Moudis Associates is pretty good at finding creative ways to implement its client’s branding into the their spaces.

“It creates this common place—a heart—that connects them together,” said Stephen Apking, the interior design partner at SOM.

That approach has yielded clients including Squarespace, which tapped A+I to design its 98,000-square-foot multilevel headquarters at 8 Clarkson Street in Greenwich Village. A+I spent three months devising a workplace strategy for the online firm, emerging with a sophisticated design that sought to match Squarespace’s aesthetic and provide multifunctional spaces blending office and hospitality elements. (A+I is helming a two-floor expansion for Squarespace at the building, Folger and Zizmor said.)

Spector Group For Spector Group, community was a key component in some of its latest designs. Take VaynerMedia’s new 70,000-square-foot space at 10 Hudson Yards. The company instructed Spector Group, which also designed its former 30,000-square-foot digs at 315 Park Avenue South, to craft a new office with a lot of open desks, meeting rooms and common spaces for its millennial-aged employees.

(An image of VaynerMedia’s space is above). The office, which has just a measly 115 square feet per employee, also includes a cafe with seating, as collaborative working is greatly encouraged. “We are very proud of it,” said Scott Spector, a principal at Spector Group.

It’s “open and really warm with lots of reclaimed wood and places to gather that are comfortable. It’s not like a typical, polished technology firm. There is a warmth there that we captured together.

” Spector Group is currently working on 1.4 million square feet of interior design projects in New York City, which generate about $13 million in revenue. And of its 85 personnel, the firm boasts 21 designers.

Another of its recent top projects features the design of Deutsch Advertising’s space at Vornado Realty Trust’s 330 West 34th Street. The 75,000-square-foot, two-floor office, which Spector Group wrapped up earlier this year, comes with outdoor terraces on two sides.

But the beauty of the space is its “center spine” concept that Spector Group designed, which brings all of the offices’ amenities together in one space and promotes collaboration. The two floors are connected by a massive steel and concrete staircase, which opens up to cafe spaces and common areas for socializing and meetings.

“It’s almost like an atrium in the middle of two floors,” Spector said. “It really accentuates their cultures. It’s about the team. It’s about collaboration. It’s not about the hierarchy.

It’s not a law firm. It’s about getting everyone enthused and energized.”—L.L.G.

Outside of the office sector, Ted Moudis created a 7,000-square-foot gym for Park Tower Group last year at its 37-story building at 535 Madison Avenue. The tenant-only gym features a luxe, Equinox-like fitness center with concierge service, LED lights, high-end equipment and a unisex changing area with wooden lockers.—L.L.G.

Having studied together at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Brad Zizmor and Dag Folger started A+I (Architecture Plus Information) in 1996 with the idea of “bringing real architectural thinking to the workplace,” Zizmor told CO. “Little did we know it would be such a hot topic 20 years later.”

To that end, Gensler incorporated elements such as a tunnel entrance (like entering a football stadium), stands for live-game viewing on big screens, locker rooms instead of dressing rooms and track and field areas so consumers testing shoes can better imagine using the products.

The majority of Giants—68, to be exact—saw growth, with only 20 going the other way. And 84 expect growth ahead. That leads us to one final stat. In each survey, we ask the Giants if they’re optimistic about the coming year’s business. This time, 96 percent said “yes.” That’s the highest we’ve seen since the 2015 survey. The takeaway? No matter what you thought of 2017, it’s worth looking ahead to better things to come.

“Everything, for us, is for the long term; there are always new competitors popping up here and there, while other guys get bought out and sold,” he noted. “We’re lucky enough to have the third generation starting in the business.” Indeed, Kleinberg’s son is currently a student at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture—and while he said he hopes he starts his career at another firm to cut his teeth in the field, it would appear MKDA is destined to remain a family business.—R.M.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill As a global architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill handles projects in New York City and elsewhere, often as part of one assignment. For BBVA global financial services group, SOM’s interior design team is designing a 3.

5-million-square-foot global workforce initiative. (An image of BBVA’s New York City office is above). The interior designers are working with senior management at the bank on a “complete repositioning of them as an institution” and creating a “common global culture,” said Stephen Apking, the design partner responsible for SOM’s interiors practice.

“This was a radical shift in their workplace globally.” After conducting research and testing pilots, the final offices have been built for BBVA in New York City, Madrid and Mexico City. SOM works for the majority of the global financial institutions in New York City including one for which SOM’s interiors team is “reimagining the entire building for them.

” (Apking declined to identify the client.) The building, which the company occupies in full, will become “their global hub of technology.” His favorite project has been working on the landmarked Inland Steel Building in Chicago.

The steel clad high-rise office building was erected post-World War II with a design by SOM. Manhattan developer Richard Cohen, the building’s owner since 2007, has hired SOM to restore the interior of the building, Apking said.

SOM “created a master plan on how to reposition it for future, and it’s starting to be implemented,” he noted. Those designs include adding new ceiling systems that integrate ambient chill cooling systems and LED lighting and acoustics, as well as modular furniture and wall systems that clip in and will be reusable by tenants over time.

SOM has been around since 1936 and within the same year launched in New York City. Twenty percent of the company’s work, or 9.8 million square feet, is interior in nature, generating $64 million in revenue.

The firm has 1,069 full-time employees, 146 of whom are interior design staff. They are currently working on 143 interior design projects.—L.E.S.

For our second annual interior design list, we queried top architecture firms and landlords to see who they trusted to handle the interiors for their top developments. Then we reached out to prominent commercial interior design firms and asked how many square feet they designed last year, the value of their projects and what they consider their noteworthy work from 2017. We tried to look beyond the numbers—which were the basis of our first list, published in October 2016—and consider who was doing the most interesting and exciting work. (Lists like these, especially when considering firms whose work is largely aesthetic, include a number of judgment calls.)

Ted Moudis Associates Designers at Ted Moudis Associates don’t like to follow trends just because it may be the new “cool” thing to do. So for its design of Neuberger Berman’s 500,000-square-foot headquarters on 18 floors at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, the firm designed something most firms hastily remove: an executive floor.

Neuberger desired a luxurious space with which its top executives could impress the firm’s top clients. “We don’t force something on a client because it’s a trend,” said Jacqueline Barr, the design principal at Ted Moudis.

“There are some fantastic [ideas] out there, but sometimes it’s not right for a client.” For the rest of Neuberger’s office, Ted Moudis went with a “bento box” concept, which highlights different features for each department to better cater to the staffers’ needs.

So some parts of the offices have more open desks, whereas others like the human resources and the finance departments, don’t have as many common spaces. “HR and finance—you need less collaboration,” Barr said.

“The whole idea is to make these people more productive and happier.” Ted Moudis, which was founded in 1990 in Manhattan, is working on 5 million square feet of interior projects in the city and has 115 employees, 45 of which focus on design.

It recently completed a 145,000-square-foot headquarters for Foot Locker at 330 West 34th Street and is working on KCG Holdings’ new 169,000-square-foot headquarters at 300 Vesey Street, a project it hopes to complete by the end of the year.

Although it consciously doesn’t try to be pushy with the trends, in a recent project for Initiative Media’s new 95,000-square-foot property at 100 West 33rd Street in the Manhattan Mall, it packed in all of the modern trends one can think of, including a beer garden (image above) and even unassigned seating.

“When you walk in on any given day, you could choose where you sit,” Barr said. “People aren’t just sitting at their desks anymore, they’re sitting at the pantry [for example]. So they are actually getting more use out of the space.


“We’re fighting for the right clients, not just [any] clients. Clients who resonate with [A+I’s approach] to solve larger, more structural problems in their organization find us,” Folger said.—Rey Mashayekhi

The 300-person firm, founded in 1985, also took on an unusual preservation project last year. Durst Organization hired Studios to revamp the former Condé Nast cafeteria at 4 Times Square, which was Frank Gehry’s first New York City project, while maintaining much of the floor’s original, iconic design. The cafeteria is famous for its curved-glass partitions, round leather booths and undulating blue-gray titanium walls. Durst wanted to take the space from an amenity created for one tenant to one that the whole building could use. The $35 million renovation will transform the eating area into a tenant-only food hall and add a 20,000-square-foot meeting space, the latter run by Convene, to the rest of the floor.

Work outside the U.S. was 20 percent of the Giants output, a number notable because it has dropped every year since a high of 25 percent in the 2013 survey. The biggest international hot spots were the Pacific Rim, Canada, and Europe, with the latter witnessing a steady uptick over the past three surveys. Asia will see the most growth overseas, 50 percent of the Giants believe. But compare that to the 94 percent that see the U.S. with the biggest potential—the Northeast and South in particular—and you can understand why globalization is less of a buzzword.

This means employees may bump into each other thanks to multi-purpose areas that can be used as social or workspace, and a coffee bar area that is used as a popular workspace. Also, the office has an internal staircase that connects all of the company’s floors in the building, again allowing workers to run into each other each while traversing floors.

Rauxa’s space also incorporates graffiti murals that were painted by employees in its previous offices. The murals were photographed and reimagined, creating rhythmic patterns connecting both floors of the firm’s 50,000-square-foot office at 225 Liberty Street.

As for Uber, Finger and his partners are revamping the offices of the ridesharing company’s engineering group at 1400 Broadway and “infusing a hospitality feel” into the space, a Fogarty Finger spokeswoman said.

At Norwegian banking giant DNB’s new 45,000-square-foot offices at 30 Hudson Yards, M Moser is helming a project that “isn’t just about commercial interiors—its about cultural transformation,” said Chris Swartout, the director of the firm’s 27-person New York office. With DNB seeking to emphasize its technological operations and reposition itself as “a technology company with a banking license,” M Moser has sought to facilitate that transition with a more tech-friendly buildout, he said. Nearby, M Moser is also helming the design hedge fund Point72 Asset Management’s new 175,000-square-foot offices at 55 Hudson Yards.

For Michael Kleinberg, the president of family-owned architecture and interior design firm MKDA, it’s all about relationships. “If a client wants to see me at 9 p.m. tonight, I’ll see them, because that’s what you do for a client, and they’ll remember it,” he said. “It’s a tough industry, but the value is when you see you have satisfied clients, and you have a project that looks good and leads to other projects.”

The firm has done work for LinkedIn at its New York headquarters at the Empire State Building, where it completed a massive, full-floor café as well as an amenity and studio space that Swartout said serves as “the social hub and connective tissue of all the space that LinkedIn has in the building.”

What constitutes the best? Says who? Since when does this publication consider itself a font of design criticism?

Keywords:FXFOWLE, Gensler, GVK Architects, HOK, Perkins+Will, slideshow, SOM, Spector Group, Studios Architecture, Ted Moudis & Associates, TPG Architecture

It’s not the only project where SOM has had to help the client create a sense of community. In fact, an even larger amenity space was crafted at Citigroup’s new headquarters at 388 and 390 Greenwich Street.

When Nike tapped Studios Architecture to design its Midtown office, the shoemaker asked the designers to bring the feel of the city into a glassy, newly constructed highrise at 855 Avenue of the Americas.

New York-based TPG Architecture continues to be one of the most prolific firms dealing in commercial interiors in the city, reporting more than 1,000 projects completed or ongoing since the start of last year.

Sustainability still commands a big chunk of a firm’s bandwidth: Half of all fees come from sustainable design, and 60 percent of all products installed were green, $53 billion’s worth. Though “only” 53 percent of square footage was green, the lowest since 2012, it did amount to 548 million square feet, which represents the largest amount ever reported.

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It’s almost a fool’s errand to rank New York’s top architecture firms by who does the best interiors.

As employers across all industries have come to place heightened importance on their work environments as a means of productivity, talent attraction and talent retention, that vision has proven prescient. In the process, A+I has built an impressive roster of clients drawn to the firm’s emphasis on crafting not just a design, but a cohesive strategy for what the space is seeking to achieve.

The company, founded in 1979, certainly has the staff to cope with such a workload, with more than 200 people housed in its Penn Plaza offices. While workplace interiors account for more than half of TPG’s business, the firm also has an established retail interiors practice and is growing its footprint in the realms of hospitality and health care.

So Studios added a 50-by-84-foot basketball court, separated from the rest of the office by a chain link fence, to the double-height first floor. Nike plans to let local leagues and high school teams use the court, but it also doubles as a large space for full staff meetings, with bleachers that can seat 415 people. Much of the company’s six-floor, 150,000-square-foot office is open, featuring a variety of flexible workspaces, like booths, lounges, conference rooms and a library. Roaming workers can even hang out or have meetings in an orange Volkswagen minibus parked on one floor—a tribute to Nike CEO Phil Knight, who got his start in the sneaker business by selling shoes out of his car during high school track meets.

The first installment of the two-part annual business survey of Interior Design Giants comprises the 100 largest firms ranked by interior design fees for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2017. The 100 Rising Giants ranking will be published in July. Interior design fees include those attributed to:

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Another recent project Gensler designed was One Soho Square, which combined the adjacent 161 Avenue of the Americas and 233 Spring Street into one tower of 768,000 square feet held by a new core. It will be completed in the spring and comes with a new three-level glassy penthouse.—Liam LaGuerre

With 15 offices around the world, Hong Kong-based M Moser Associates is well-established as a major global and national player in the realm of workplace design, but the firm has heightened its profile in New York in recent years via a number of projects for big-name companies at some of the city’s marquee properties.

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For this, we decided to count our top 10 strictly based on the numbers that were reported to us: revenue and square footage. Here are the big guns of interior design.

At the end of the summer we sent out queries to 55 of the top architecture firms that do design work in which we asked them how many square feet of interiors they were working on in the city, how much these undertakings were worth and what projects of note they were grinding away at in the five boroughs.

At 601 Lexington Avenue, M Moser, which has been around for over 37 years, last year finished a buildout of a new 37,000-square-foot office for Blackstone Group’s Innovations technology division that blended a younger, tech-oriented feel with more refined, corporate elements. And the firm also handled work for advertising giant Publicis Groupe’s Prodigious division, which took 15,000 square feet in Sunset Park’s Industry City complex; that project sought to utilize the space’s “amazing views” of Manhattan in the creation of a “best-in-class creative agency environment.”

The answer? Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, commonly known as SOM, designed a social meeting space in the core of its new 350,000-square-foot offices at Brookfield Place. SOM placed a coffee bar, meeting areas and conference rooms into a long corridor at the center of the space that was only previously used as an area just the restrooms, elevators and staircases for past tenants. This way, ultimately all workers from all walks of the company with meet in the center of the space.

Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel An important job for designers is to make sure they respect history. And this came to play a huge role for Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel (GKV) Architects, when designing GFI Capital Resources Group’s restoration and conversion of the 1883-built 5 Beekman Street (with an alternative address of 123 Nassau Street), an early nine-story office building into a hotel.

The project included glomming a new 600-foot tall, 68-unit condominium at 115 Nassau Street onto the original structure with additional hotel rooms on its lower floors. (The hotel, Beekman Hotel, which has nearly 300 rooms, opened in August.

) GKV worked to renovate the classic building, which features Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival and Neo-Grec architectural styles. A standout feature is its nine-story atrium (image above), which has ironwork railings and pyramid-shaped skylight.

There is also a court furnished with 19th century items, which were picked by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, a partner on the project. “It is of the time and in many ways it looks as if you are transported back in time,” said Randolph Gerner, a principal at GKV.

But it’s not GKV’s only project that pays its respects to history. The 49-employee, Midtown South-based firm, which is working on 1.3 million square feet of interior projects in the city, is also designing a 413,000-square-foot high-end rental building for Lightstone Group in Long Island City that’ll respect the historic industrial character of the neighborhood.

The planned 10-story building at 30-17 40th Avenue will be ground up and concrete based. It will encompass 428 units, as well as squash and basketball courts. The building is expected to be completed in 16 months.

“We designed it so that it is a building that looks like it should be in LIC,” Gerner said. “There are a lot of new buildings there that look like they should be in Manhattan. [Ours] is very loft-like in nature.


Only about a third of the firms that we canvased heeded our call. Some told us about their big global projects—which were unquestionably exciting—but when they got down to New York, their projects were a little more modest.

“The challenge was to reprogram it while respecting the original design, because it’s a brilliant piece,” said Studios Principal Robert Clemens. “Some of the panels may have been modified or relocated, but [we tried] to preserve as much of the original intent as possible. It’s just been slightly modified a little bit.”—R.B.R.

By all indications, 2017 was a stellar year. Total design fees hit $4.1 billion, a 5 percent gain from the previous survey and a 70 percent gain over the past decade. This matched the Giants’ own forecast, and they expect $4.4 billion next time.

SOM is also designing the renovation of the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel. The firm has been focusing on revitalizing historical elements of the hotel, including entrance ways, the lobby, meeting spaces, dining spaces and the historical ballroom.

And it’s not just sheer volume of work that means TPG is a mainstay on this list—the firm is doing major projects for established companies at premier properties across the city.

The firm, founded in 2003, is also designing the interiors for Dock 72, the 17-story, 675,000-square-foot office building being developed by Rudin Development and Boston Properties at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. WeWork is anchoring the project with 222,000 square feet of shared workspace, and Fogarty Finger is designing the lobby and 35,000 square feet of amenities that will be programmed by the coworking giant, including food hall, fitness center, open lawn with games, outdoor basketball court and conference center.

So Ted Moudis created a space that emphasizes curved lines by using dark and white exposed and dropped ceilings and on the floors through a contrast between wooden and polished surfaces.

Other than relationships, Kleinberg said the key to making it in the cutthroat world of commercial interior design is “staying power.”

“A lot of companies are going through digital and cultural transformations and trying to become agile,” he noted. “We’re adjusting our capacities in order to match that.”—R.M.

“It’s been wonderful for us to work on the next generation of that important building,” Apking said. “We are looking at all kinds of programmatic pieces that we can weave into [the Waldorf] that will set it up for the next generation.”—L.L.G.

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There SOM, founded in 1936, designed a new three-level town hall space at the base of buildings that connects the structures, which Citigroup owns and together combine for 2.6 million square feet. In that common area there is an atrium, several dining venues, a newsstand, coffee bar, conference center and meeting rooms. The new headquarters is expected to be completed in 2020.

Gensler Gensler is working on some ambitious interior design projects. The biggest assignment is renovating Citigroup’s 2.6-million-square-foot headquarters at 388 Greenwich Street in Tribeca. Slated for completion in 2019, the bank is employing an “100 percent” open-floor plan, said Robin Klehr Avia, Gensler’s regional managing principal for the northeast and Latin America.

There will be no corner offices and no doors—for anyone. “It’s a project of real transparency and community,” Klehr Avia said. The job includes the addition of dining spaces, a fitness center, an auditorium, a day care facility, a health clinic, different kinds of meeting spaces, a trading floor and a data center.

Gensler, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, has been working in the Big Apple since 1979. Other current, or recently completed, jobs include designing Etsy’s 225,000-square-foot headquarters at 117 Adams Street in Brooklyn (rendering above), the renovation of the landmarked Ford Foundation headquarters in 270,000 square feet at 320 East 43rd Street and the 200,000-square-foot renovation of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store at 12 East 49th Street.

Etsy’s digs in the Dumbo Heights project, completed this summer, are sustainable. Indeed, the office is on track to become one of the largest Living Building Challenge Petal-Certified projects in the world, having embraced nature and capitalizing on sustainable, authentic and locally sourced materials.

For the Ford Foundation, with a 2018 completion date, Gensler is “creating a more collaborative and equitable work environment,” Klehr Avia said. The job calls for converting closed spaces and a compartmentalized layout into more flexible open and shared spaces.

A big piece of that effort is relocating offices so everyone can enjoy a view of the atrium, which is also being renovated. At Saks, Gensler recently completed the redesign of the fourth floor, with stone aisles, twisting floor patterns, a sculpted ceiling and a renovated Fifth Avenue Club with expanded personal shopping department spanning the third and fourth floors (before it was just on the third floor), and connected by a central staircase.

The store will be redone in 2018. “It’s being designed and built in phases because they’re keeping the doors open for sales,” she said. Sixty-two percent of Gensler’s New York projects, or 842 actively, are interior jobs, and they generate $76.

3 million for the company.—Lauren Elkies Schram

Studios Architecture Time Inc., like most publishing firms, has been positioning itself as more of a media company than a traditional publisher in recent years. So when the media giant left its traditional Time & Life Building at 1271 Avenue of the Americas last year for new 700,000-square-foot digs at 225 Liberty Street, it hired Studios Architecture to model the space for a larger media presence than one would have gotten in Midtown.

(An image of a studio in Time’s new offices is above). “225 Liberty really gave a lot of the footprint to build in a great media presence,” said Joshua Rider, a principal at Studios. “What I mean by that is the photo studios and media studios.

They had a little of that [at the Time & Life Building], but this was a chance to push this.” Founded in San Francisco in 1985, Studios opened its New York City offices a decade later. Today, with 80 employees in New York City (and 270 worldwide), it is working on 4.

43 million square feet of projects in the city. Earlier this year, Studios completed Sony Corporation of America’s 568,000-square-foot office fit-out at 25 Madison Avenue. And it designed the new 738,000-square-foot offices for Coach at 10 Hudson Yards, into which the company moved in June.

Coach occupies the seventh through 24th floors of the 1.8-million-square-foot glassy tower and has some space in the lobby as well. While it was moving into one of the newest office structures in the city, Coach wanted a loft-type feel.

“[Since] they got in early there was opportunity to work with exactly what their needs were in the new building,” Rider said. “We moved all the mechanicals in the ceiling down to the floor. So it’s a clean, loft atmosphere.


Although exterior architecture often grabs headlines, it’s the interior design that usually makes or breaks a project. With that in mind, Commercial Observer has ranked New York City’s best and most interesting architecture firms that do commercial interior design work.

Another project for which Ted Moudis put in its clients branding last year was the 47,000-square-foot offices for AlphaSights at 350 Madison Avenue between East 44th and East 45th Streets. The client, which links professionals and companies with industry experts and data around the globe, uses lines in its branding online to reflect connections.

HOK Global architecture firm HOK (formerly Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum) knew it landed a big deal when advertising giant GroupM retained it to design its space at 3 World Trade Center. Global architecture firm HOK (formerly Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum) knew it landed a big deal when advertising giant GroupM retained it to design its space at 3 World Trade Center.

But what started out as a 520,000-square-foot project grew to nearly 700,000 square feet as GroupM signed a deal for additional space, giving it more than a quarter of the glassy skyscraper and making it the building’s biggest tenant.

While 3 WTC is slated for completion in May 2018, construction will begin on GroupM’s offices next year. The challenge for HOK is to design different settings for each of GroupM’s brands. “Each brand will have their own unique kind of feel,” said Tom Polucci, a senior principal at the firm.

“It’s designed for a big digital media company—there are a lot of open spaces and bright colors. It’s very forward thinking in terms of how they are going to occupy the space.” HOK opened its New York City offices in 1972, and today has more than 266 employees—80 of whom work on interiors.

(Worldwide, HOK has about 1,800 employees.) It is generating about $15 million from current interior design projects in the city. Its large projects include the 132,000-square-foot headquarters for Teach for America at 25 Broadway (rendering above), which was completed in 2015, and the nearly 440,000-square-foot buildout for law firm White & Case at 1221 Avenue of the Americas, which is set to open next year.

And don’t expect White & Case’s new digs to be similar in style to GroupM’s just because they both are large spaces. “They are very different projects, because it’s a law firm versus a media giant,” Polucci said.

White & Case’s offices “are really sophisticated and elegant and have a contemporary palette. We are super excited about it. They are interested in natural light, [and] a lot of glass.”—L.L.G.

“ ‘To create moments that matter,’ that’s what they do for their clients,” Barr said referring to the client’s motto. “So we thought about how do we create moments that matter. We came up with when you are thinking of ideas, your head’s in the clouds.”

Because UM works with many liquor companies, Ted Moudis, founded in 1990, threw in a speakeasy, with a small door entrance, dark walls and a secret room (check behind the painting).  

In addition to recent projects like the Associated Press’ new 170,000-square-foot headquarters at Brookfield Place and financial technology firm NEX Group’s new 82,000-square-foot digs at 4 Times Square, TPG is at work designing MacMillan Publishers’ sprawling 120,000-square-foot offices at 120 Broadway in the Financial District and insurer Argo Group’s new 48,000-square-foot location at 413 West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District.

Hudson’s Bay Company, which is the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and namesake Hudson’s Bay, had a problem: how to make the members of its various brands feel like they are part of one team.

Take, for example, its design of advertising giant Universal McCann’s (UM) roughly 95,000-square-foot offices at 100 West 33rd Street in Herald Square. Since one of the marketer’s clients is Coca-Cola, Ted Moudis designers crafted a bar with a bright red-and-white color scheme and Coke vending machines.

Photography by doublespace (Amanda Large and Younes Bounhar)

Boston Consulting’s office, which was completed a year ago, also provides everyone with a sit-stand desk and some have treadmill workstations. And when a guest or client gives her name at the security desk and takes the elevator up, a staff member is there to greet her.

At the Dime Savings Bank in South Williamsburg, Fogarty is revamping the neo-classical bank building into retail or office space and designing a 22-story mixed-use building next door. Known as “The Dime,” the finished complex at 263 South 5th Street will hold 50,000 square feet of retail, 100,000 square feet of office space and 177 rental units.

Founded in 1959, MKDA now has three offices, one each in New York, Stamford, Conn. and Miami—and while the 12-member Miami studio has begun to dabble in base building work, it is the 40-member New York City office, entirely devoted to commercial interiors, that continues to bring home the bacon. Since the beginning of last year, MKDA says that it has more than 320 New York City projects either completed or in the works, and the firm is well-established in the city as one of the go-to outfits for both landlords and tenants on the hunt for new digs.

Corporate work, as usual, accounted for the biggest chunk, at $1.5 billion, but its overall share dropped a bit, 4 percent. Residential work, on the other hand, jumped 31 percent. Hospitality, health care, educational, transportation, and cultural segments all had healthy double-digit gains. For next time, the Giants are looking for further growth in transportation and retail as well as a 5 percent rebound in corporate. More big numbers: Furniture and fixtures, along with construction, reached $90.6 billion, up nearly $17 billion over the past three surveys. The Giants now forecast $91 billion for next time.

We readily acknowledge that this list—our first such of its kind—will no doubt make some mistakes.

Spector recently wrapped up work on the offices of Insider Inc., the parent company that owns news website Business Insider. The design group created graphics based on audience data from BI articles that had gone viral and applied them to the glass walls of the conference rooms and phone rooms. Insider just moved into its new 88,000-square-foot space on the eighth and ninth floors of One Liberty Plaza last month.

All types of interiors work, including commercial and residential. All aspects of a firm’s interior design practice, from strategic planning and programming to design and project management. Fees paid to a firm for work performed by employees and independent contractors who are “full-time staff equivalent”.

Interior design fees do not include revenues paid to a firm and remitted to subcontractors who are not considered full-time staff equivalent. For example, certain firms attract work that is subcontracted to a local firm. The originating firm may collect all the fees and retain a management or generation fee, paying the remainder to the performing firm. The amounts paid to the latter are not included in fees of the collecting firm when determining its ranking. Ties are broken by the dollar value of products installed. Where applicable, all percentages are based on responding Giants, not their total number. The data was compiled and analyzed by the Interior Design market research staff in New York, led by Wing Leung, research director.

At 52 years old, Spector Group remains one of the most prolific commercial interior design firms in the city, competing against heavy hitters with much larger staffs, like SOM and Gensler. Whether it’s a bank, a startup office, the entrance to Brookfield Place, or a medical office, the firm takes a sleek, modern and community-minded approach to each space it tackles.

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“They handle taking you to where you are going or if you are expected by someone internally they make sure that that [employee] meets with you,” Giannetti said. “You are not greeted by a traditional reception desk. It is a very personalized experience.”

“We believe in creating a comprehensive experience, as opposed to just a physical environment,” Zizmor said, while Folger noted that the 72-person firm thinks of itself “as a research company that is leveraging architecture to create brands and values for our clients.”

Gensler, founded in 1965, helped boost collaboration for the firm’s employees in its roughly 193,000-square-foot space on the 42nd through 47th floors of 10 Hudson Yards through what Giannetti called “casual collisions.”

“We designed a space that really embodies their culture,” said Spector Group Principal Scott Spector. “Having that large café lounge space gives them the flexibility they need for an all-hands meeting and acts as a social and collaboration zone,” added Lauren Gardner, Spector Group’s marketing director.

“The tenant has to remember something about a building, and that’s up to us,” he said. “What can you come out with that differentiates this building as 44 Wall?”

“When you’re going after someone who wants to pay $200 a square foot, they are probably international, they’re investment firms,” he said. “How do you attract those? They’re people that are looking to spend a lot of money and they’re probably not looking for the same aesthetic that a tech firm on Park Avenue is looking for. How does that aesthetic mature? How do you mature from Ping-Pong tables and kegs?”

Now for some more big gains, this time for staffing. Total interior design staff at the Giants came in at 17,800, up 1,000 from last time and more than double the 8,700 reported in 2010. We also saw gains in what firms are billing per hour: $145 for designers, up from $132; $193 for project managers, up from $180; and $253 for principals/owners, up from $238. Unfortunately, salaries didn’t grow with all the other numbers. The average designer’s earnings were flat at $75,000, and the $110,000 that managers had made previously remained unchanged. Principals, however, saw a bump from $175,000 to $187,000.

Whether they are designing Uber’s offices, renovating and converting the landmarked Waldorf Astoria hotel, or building out Citigroup’s world headquarters, we tried to include firms working on a diverse roster of projects, big and small.—Rebecca Baird-Remba

“It was designed with a stadium concept and thinking about the athlete’s journey in mind,” said Rocco Giannetti, a principal and co-managing director of Gensler’s New York office.

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Update: A previous version of this entry identified the total square footage of Gensler’s New York City interior design projects as 8.4 million. That number, which was provided by the firm, was inaccurate, according to Gensler.

Besides the Nike offcies, STUDIOS has worked on the renovation of the lobby at 1500 Broadway, the revamp of 150 Fifth Avenue, and Time Inc.’s new headquarters at 225 Liberty Street. 

The idea of experience was also taken into consideration for Gensler’s workplace designs for the Boston Consulting Group.

Perkins+Will Perkins+Will has been working on revamping Thomson Reuters’ 400,000-square-foot offices at 3 Times Square for the past three years, in different phases. The designers are currently focused on a customer center (rendering above) on the 30th floor of the building for the news and information company, which will be completed in mid-2017.

The space measures about 25,000 square feet. Aside from high-end furniture and finishes, including a modern concierge desk and lounge where clients are greeted, the office will feature interactive touch media screens on the walls that will emit Thomson Reuters content.

“It’s breaking the mold of the traditional workplace solutions. It’s intended to give Thomson Reuters a space to interact with their clients,” said John Sadlon, the managing principal for workplace at Perkins+Will.

“This is going to be an opportunity for Thomson Reuters to cross-sell the services and products of its different groups.” Perkins+Will, which launched its New York City offices in 1967, has 45 architects, 36 interior design employees and 12 planners.

It currently generates about $9.5 million from 2.25 million square feet of interior projects in the five boroughs. Globally, it has more than 2,000 professionals and its total 2015 revenue was approximately $480 million.

Another top project that Perkins+Will has worked on recently includes the new flagship showroom and offices for crystal producer Swarovski. The 20,000-square-foot space at 10 East 53rd Street spans the 26th and 27th floors and the company moved in at the end of September.

The space, built to showcase Swarovski’s wide ranges of crystals and other products, was made for designers and buyers. It features a staircase with crystals hanging from the ceiling that connects the showroom to the offices of the floor above.

“It’s about celebrating the ingenuity and the history of Swarovski and also infusing the space with a sense of luxury that the brand is renowned for,” Sadlon said. “It’s really about elegance and the technological innovation.


For the first time, the total square footage completed by the Giants eclipsed 1 billion. That resulted from 61,300 jobs, another 5 percent gain. (For context, in 2010 the Giants completed 22,000 jobs.) Fees per square foot came in at $142, up from $103. While this number does fluctuate year to year, $142 is the highest total we’ve ever recorded.

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Notable recent projects include investment firm Winton Capital Management’s 35,000-square-foot duplex office at the top of 315 Park Avenue South, at which MKDA sought to couple a loft-like, industrial aesthetic with a sheen worthy of a financial services firm. MKDA also handled major law firm Hodgson Russ’ new 20,000-square-foot space at 605 Third Avenue, and for another legal client—personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan—designed an uncharacteristically funky, 17,000-square-foot outpost in Sunset Park.

And to help the advertisers generate ideas, Ted Moudis crafted a “sky lounge,” which has white furniture and walls covered with clouds and blue skies to make employees feel as though they are “in the clouds,” said Jacqueline Barr, the design principal of the firm.

Finger noted that high-end financial firms and startups that were willing to pay top dollar for hip office space are searching for a very particular, modern look. Finger pointed to his firm’s work designing the prebuilt spaces at 412 West 15th Street as an example.

TPG Architecture What does a brewery giant like Anheuser-Busch InBev need for its new Chelsea offices? A beer garden—of course—so Anheuser-Busch employees can enjoy its brands like Budweiser, Michelob Ultra and Bud Light.

For its new digs at 125 West 24th Street, which will house the sales and marketing units (they are moving from St. Louis), TPG Architecture designed a rooftop beer garden. The nearly 100,000-square-foot offices (rendering above) span the sixth to the 12th floors and include the entire ground floor, which has meeting spaces, lounges and the “capacity for the staff to brew their own beers,” said James Phillips, a managing partner at TPG, who noted the project is about a month from completion.

The seventh through 12th floors have an open atrium, which goes up to a skylight, that was recently renovated. And they have basement space for bike storage and a gym—to work off all of those empty brewsky calories, maybe.

“They moved to a completely open work environment that’s radically different from the very corporate structure that exists in St. Louis,” Phillips said. “I think they wanted to make a statement that this isn’t your grandfather’s brewery anymore.

They wanted a hipper, cooler younger audience.” TPG Architecture, which primarily works on interior designs, was founded in New York City in 1979. The 220-employee firm has 47 designers and 37 registered architects.

Last year, it generated $40 million in revenue from its work, and it is currently working on about 10 million square feet of interior design projects in the city. Another major interior design project TPG is doing is the new 170,000-square-foot offices for The Associated Press at 200 Liberty Street in Brookfield Place.

The new offices include a newsroom and high-tech broadcast studios. AP plans to move in early next year, because, of course, it has major deadlines to meet. “The schedule driver from the very beginning was they had to move between the inauguration of the new president and the Super Bowl,” Phillips said.

“They can’t move in one move, so it’ll probably be two weekends in between those dates.”—Liam La Guerre

“Many design firms see clients as an obstacle,” said David Koren, TPG’s executive director of marketing and communications. “ ‘We could do really good work if it weren’t for the clients.’ That’s how a lot of firms and architects think, and that’s not how this firm thinks at all. It’s not about the designers’ egos; it’s about serving the clients’ business objectives.”—R.M.

In an admittedly hyper-competitive market for commercial interior design, Swartout said M Moser’s competitive advantage comes in its emphasis on “end-to-end services” that address every aspect of conceptualizing, designing, engineering and constructing a space, as well as its ability to adapt to continuously evolving corporate trends.

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