Often the first corporate interior design firm to come to mind when New York’s commercial building owners need to attract quality tenants to their office buildings, MKDA is just as often called upon by global corporate space users like TD Bank, and apparel retailers such as Rainforest, which recently engaged the firm to create the concept for its overseas stores.
No matter the type or scope of the corporate interiors requirement, MKDA’s experience and expertise has been called upon for over 52 years to provide interior design services to commercial building owners as well as office, showroom and retail space users.
It was MKDA’s early innovation in assisting building owners and their agents in marketing available office space that has earned the firm the opportunity to work with the city’s most prolific ownerships. Among them are Silverstein Properties, The Durst Organization, Boston Properties and Vornado.
Having honed its real estate market expertise over many years, MKDA has successfully cultivated a niche creating “built” environments, including prebuilt and turnkey spaces as well as marketing centers, renovated lobbies and entrance facades, for diverse ownerships, many of which have been long-term clients of the firm.
Boston Properties Senior Vice President Andrew Levin, who is currently working in collaboration with MKDA on prebuilts at 599 and 601 Lexington Avenues, recently said of the firm: “MKDA listened and shaped our vision to meet the needs of our potential tenants with speed, intelligence, creativity and perseverance.”
Added Waterman Interests Founder Philip Waterman III (“Tod”): “Working with MKDA on the transformation of 400 Park Avenue back to a world-class asset is a real thrill for me personally, as the MKDA team possess the rare ability to act as architect, advocate, and trusted advisor.”
MKDA has throughout the years earned this reputation by remaining flexible to meet the needs of its clients. This is particularly true of the design work the firm undertakes for its corporate clients, which range in size from start-up ventures to established global corporations and which present the firm with varying corporate identities and requirements that necessitate unique and targeted space solutions.
“An additional advantage we offer all of our clients is our commitment to managing a project with utmost respect of their budgets and schedules,” said MKDA President Michael Kleinberg.
The firm’s corporate clients span the accounting, finance, law firm, non-profit, government and new media sectors, among others, and high-profile brands such as Dewitt Stern, T&H, Heineken, Design Within Reach, Springs Global and HSN.
While there are many reasons for the firm’s longstanding success in the highly competitive New York market, it is perhaps the firm’s commitment to diversification that has had the most impact. In fact, throughout its history, MKDA has never had to let an employee go due to economic or workflow fluctuations.
The firm uses its experience in working with various sectors to grow and shift with changing market conditions. The firm did this, for example, when hedge funds exploded into the marketplace in the early 2000s, and has been utilizing its strengths with landlord work for the duration of the nation’s recession.
In addition, MKDA is committed to remaining on top of current international design trends as well as trends in designing “green” environments. MKDA’s LEED-accredited professionals most recently received LEED-CI Silver certification on a space the firm designed for Humanscale, a designer and manufacturer of ergonomic products that improve health, comfort and work life quality.
In addition to assisting corporate tenants in defining their space, the firm also frequently assists brokers with preliminary test fits and layouts in order to help them quickly close lease transactions. Establishing and building relationships between landlords, brokers and corporate office tenants—thus facilitating and streamlining the leasing process—has always been the Kleinberg family forte.
Of the many factors that have led to the firm’s stability over 52 years, it is perhaps the tenacity, commitment and forward-thinking quality of its partners, Michael and Jeffrey Kleinberg, along with principal emeritus Milo Kleinberg, that has most earned the respect of its clients. The firm’s hard earned reputation was first won in the early years shortly after Mr. Kleinberg, who had worked as a draftsman for a renowned architect for 13 years, founded the firm.
“When I founded the firm in 1959, I established a set of guiding principals that would form the foundation of all of the firm’s work,” said Mr. Kleinberg. “These principals—commitment, focus, excellence and integrity—continue to guide our work decades later.”
Today, Michael leads the firm’s new business development, growing the firm’s project valuations from $15 million to more than $75 million. He has also been responsible for expanding the firm’s reach into multiple sectors and markets, establishing in 2006 the firm’s Stamford, CT office, which has grown today to become the most in demand design firm in Fairfield and Westchester Counties.
“Since meeting the MKDA team in the early 1990’s, and working together on more than nine assets over the course of three decades, I have always found Michael to be attentive to project execution details, innovative with design without being ‘trend-oriented’, and collaborative instead of rigid in terms of new ideas or answering questions that our team comes up with in its evaluation of all projects,” said Waterman.
Complementing his brother’s strengths, Jeffrey leads the firm’s creative initiatives by cultivating new and innovative space planning and design solutions. He ensures the quality of the firm’s creative output and grows and strengthens its talent by training, teaching and enlightening the firm’s employees.
Jeffrey is also in charge of modernizing the firm’s operations. Just as he computerized work methods, design criteria, telecommunications and resource library during his early years at the firm, he continues to spearhead the firm’s state-of-the-art approach to design and management to this day.
Over the years, Jeffrey has applied these and his project management skills along with an intimate understanding of the unique spatial requirements of showrooms, to create exciting environments for G-III, Calvin Klein, Marcraft, Tawil Associates, Kahn Lucus Lancaster, Isabella and Lafayette 148, among others.
“Jeffrey can see both the big picture and the smallest details, which is an exceptional skill to have as a designer and business partner, as it enables him to successfully meet the needs corporate space users as well as commercial building owners and brokers, who he assists in driving deals forward,” says Michael.
Now a three-generation family business, Jeffrey’s sons Jarad and Matt have in recent years become more involved at the firm, with Matt taking an active role in business development. His daughter Marissa, who is currently studying interior design at the New York School of Interior Design, is anticipated to also join the firm in the future.
MKDA has earned its strong reputation over the years by providing the highest standard of client service, and proven expertise in space planning and design. By consistently exceeding clients’ expectations, it has won repeat and referral business at many of the city’s toniest towers, including 7 World Trade Center.
According to Jeffrey: “Looking forward, we will continue to provide the same exceptional client service and innovative design solutions that have been the hallmark of our firm for years.”
(The Mann Report)