Central Park Conservancy (CPC) approached MKDA with a strong vision for its new workplace at 717 Fifth Avenue, viewing it as an exciting opportunity to creatively reimagine Central Park and its environmentally-conscious mission within the built environment. The organization’s prior office was spread across multiple, non-congruent floors, presenting a significant communication barrier and stifling collaborative efforts between departments. As a result, MKDA’s design concept was centered on fostering an inclusive, cohesive setting by creating a number of inspiring vignettes and experiences that mirror the rich and diverse landscapes of Central Park. The project team similarly prioritized sustainability and wellness initiatives, utilizing natural and eco-friendly materials, optimizing energy efficiency, and maximizing access to greenery and natural light throughout the workplace. It is expected to achieve LEED certification later this year.
“The Central Park Conservancy was very satisfied with MKDA’s final design for our new office space, especially with their hands-on and responsive method of working.The Board of Trustees shares our pride in the functionality of the layout and in the elegant modesty of the furniture, materials, and finishes.” – Betsy Smith, President & CEO of CPC
The elevator lobby and reception area celebrate Central Park’s natural beauty and picturesque scenery, capturing its tranquil, yet vibrant spirit. Porcelain tile flooring mimics the paving stones found along the Park’s main pathways and a striking mural of the Mall’s canopy of trees immerses users into its natural wonders and peaceful bliss. Continuing into reception, one of Central Park’s iconic rustic benches is situated next to a wood slat feature, which complements the coolness of the stone flooring and reception desk. The adjacent graphic wallcovering of Bow Bridge showcases dazzling fall foliage and adds a colorful touch, providing employees and guests with a welcome escape from the pace of urban life.
The general work area incorporates biophilic design principles, engaging all of the senses to strengthen the connection between employees and nature. MKDA scattered an array of plants among wood, height-adjustable workstations and lined the corridors with soft green pendants, echoing the Park’s greenspace and boosting overall wellbeing. High exposed ceilings and glass office fronts with customized leaf distraction markers allow natural light to permeate the space without sacrificing privacy needs. The integration of these elements ultimately promotes a healthier, happier, and more productive work environment, further underscoring the importance of CPC’s work.
Much like the varied terrains and experiences of Central Park, MKDA devised an ecosystem of places for individuals to work, meet, and enjoy throughout the course of their day. For example, the team created multiple touchdown spaces next to murals of memorable attractions like Bethesda Fountain and the Park’s scenic woodlands that serve to invigorate and stimulate users. MKDA similarly designed a cozy, inviting cafe for socializing and a conference center with full video conferencing capabilities for communal meetings. Notably, these two spaces are separated by Modernfold’s movable walls and thus provide the flexibility to transform into a larger event space or smaller, independent rooms for more intimate gatherings. Additional amenities and support areas include: huddle rooms for heads down work or impromptu collaboration and chats; numerous coffee bars; and a video editing room.