A/D/O – The Workspace – The Studio of Your Dreams
nARCHITECTS, a Brooklyn-based firm, has led transformed industrial space, with funding from MINI, into the creative hub A/D/O, where design professionals can work, develop and play. The 23,000 square-foot space at 29 Norman Avenue is open to the public and home to design programming, workspaces tailored for designers, a startup accelerator, a world-class restaurant, event venues and a design retail store.
“A/D/O is conceived for design professionals, but seeks to promote design in the broader public consciousness. We aspire to be a catalyst for interdisciplinary collaboration, a platform for developing talent, and a wellspring of bold ideas that enhance urban life.” – A/D/O
The Workspace at A/D/O is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to igniting creativity and collaboration across disciplines. Equipped with a range of digital fabrication tools, the Studio caters to design practices from industrial and product design to graphic design, textile design and architecture. Prototyping experts are on full-time staff to reduce friction in your creative process and help advance your concept from prototype to reality.
- The Periscope: A central feature of the design is a large overhead kaleidoscopic ‘Periscope’ that reflects and joins the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines into a single horizon – a remixing at an urban scale that visually and metaphorically brings the city together into the space.
- The Restaurant: Fredrik Berselius (Aska) and Claus Meyer (Great Northern Food Hall and Agern) are partnering with A/D/O as co-restaurateurs to open the restaurant, bar and café within A/D/O. nARCHITECTS’ approach to the design of this 160-seat restaurant extends the idea of remix, by contrasting newly inserted elements with the rough existing brick walls. A zig-zagging “curtain wall” allows the restaurant to be closed off from the Public Space during events. We remixed inside and outside by removing the roof over part of the building and replacing it with an open steel frame, resulting in an outdoor dining and event space.
- Flexible Furniture: Extending the principle of remixing, designed custom reconfigurable furniture for the project, including the large X-shaped modular “Crosstalk Table”, the “Pie Lounger”, functioning as both seating and a stage; the “Design Library” bleacher seating, and custom tables for the restaurant. The flexible nature of this furniture allows the free-flowing spaces to double as platforms for A/D/O programming.
At the core of A/D/O is a design lab that will generate thought-provoking dialogue through topical research, special commissions, exhibitions, talks and workshops. It will gather the world’s leading thinkers and creators to explore the defining issues of the moment—surfacing new points of view, and embracing the resulting controversy. A/D/O is an initiative of MINI and part of the company’s exploration of innovations that improve urban life. It aims to surface great design and be a prolific source of new ideas for the future.
“MINI is an emotional design company: we believe that good design can tip the scales towards a more humane world. The very first Mini, built in 1959, became a design icon, and had a deeply human appeal: in its look, visceral driving experience and accessibility. And it was invented as an answer to a pressing social issue. In the midst of an acute fuel shortage, Sir Alec Issigonis set up a secret design office to develop a small car, that would break all the rules of car engineering at the time. The name of his team: Amalgamated Drawing Office, ADO.
Its approach continues to inspire us to this day. MINI aims at offering products and services that are truly relevant to people, every day. Our design space in Greenpoint was founded with this purpose: to serve the creative community, locally and globally. Proudly named after our first group of innovators, A/D/O wants to spark new creative work and build a meeting place for pioneers from diverse backgrounds. Because we are convinced that meaningful design cannot happen in isolation – it needs exchange. As for ourselves, we are collaborating beyond our walls and our industry to fuel design thinking at large as well as get inspired for our own innovation, beyond automotive. Because we are creators on a journey, too.” – MINI | A/D/O
A/D/O is a design space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that provides a groundbreaking new kind of space for designers. Founded by MINI as part of the company’s own design practice and continued exploration of innovations that improve urban life, A/D/O provides a new kind of platform for designers, aiming to foster a broader conversation across and beyond disciplines.
Occupying a former warehouse at the intersection of Norman and Wythe Avenues in Greenpoint, the new space is open to the general public, combining spaces for events and exhibitions, design education, free communal workspace, a fabrication lab, a design shop, and the new restaurant Norman, by chef Fredrik Berselius with Claus Meyer. The building hosts Urban-X, an accelerator founded by MINI and SOSV, which supports startups working on products and services to improve urban life.
Reflecting the role of A/D/O in actively encouraging the cross pollination of creative ideas, nARCHITECTS’ transformation of the 23,000sf building was guided by a principle of remixing. Rather than simply dividing the existing warehouse into various zones for different activities, or, on the other hand, creating a continuous and undifferentiated space, we chose to create variable connections between gastro, event, design, exhibition and retail spaces. Neither rooms nor an open hall, the spaces kind of bleed into each other, allowing people who are curious to see what would normally be going on behind closed doors. The principle of remix extends to the physical transformation of the formerly opaque one-story building by maintaining the existing building in certain areas and creating contrast between existing and new materials in other areas.
One example of this intentionally ambiguous approach to remixing can be found in the new “porch” at the main entrance. A triangular section at the southwest corner of the building was removed, replacing an opaque facade with full glazing that invites passersby, and offers wide views down Wythe Avenue from within. While this intervention is clearly new, nARCHITECTS has rebuilt the building’s modified outline using the original graffiti covered bricks, resulting in what they now refer to as “reconstituted graffiti.” This approach was also taken with the many new apertures that have been introduced into the existing façade. Leading from the entrance is a large communal area that unifies all of A/D/O and connects the main entrances to the building as well as the outdoor court to the north.
“A central feature of nARCHITECTS’ design is a large kaleidoscopic periscope that reflects both the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines, joining these together into a single horizon – a remixing at an urban scale that visually and metaphorically brings the city together and into the space.”
Extending the principle of remixing, nARCHITECTS has designed custom reconfigurable furniture for the project, including the large X-shaped modular “Crosstalk Table”, the “Pie Lounger”, functioning as both seating and a stage; the “Design Library” bleacher seating, and custom tables throughout the restaurant. The flexible nature of this furniture allows these free-flowing spaces to double as platforms for A/D/O programming.
Project name: A/D/O
Location: 29 Norman Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11222, United States
Coordinates: 40.724667, -73.954841
Type: Coworking Space Interior
Program: Creative hub with work space (public + rentable), maker space, restaurant, and retail
Site area: n/a
Project Area: 23,000 sq.ft / 2070 sqm
Construction Year/Period: 2009-2014
Completion: Fall 2016
Visit A/D/O’s Website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: A/D/O – MINI/BMW
Architects & Interior designer:
- nARCHITECTS – 68 Jay Street, #317 Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
- Eric Bunge, Mimi Hoang (Principals); Ammr Vandal (Associate Principal), Amanda Morgan (Associate), Kyong Kim, Thomas Heltzel, David Mora, Daniel Katebini-Stengel, Gabrielle Marcoux, Jin Jin Chiu, Georgia Williams, Zach Walters, Brian Chen, Liwei Wang, Geraldine Vargas, Grisha Enikolopov.
Construction Manager/General Contractor: Barrett Builders
- MEP Engineer: OLA Consulting Engineers
- Structural Engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
- Civil Engineer: AKRF
- Lighting Designer: Lumen Architecture, PLLC
- Additional Interior Design: HUXHUX
- Code Consultant: Jack Callahan Consulting
- Kitchen Consultant: Jacobs Doland Beer
Selected suppliers & subcontractors, Manufacturers:
- Manufacturers: Kawneer, ABC Stone