Group Projects recently completed a 12,000 square foot interior renovation for 3RD Space - a coworking office, event space, and cafe located in the Ironbound District of Newark, New Jersey. The building 3RD Space occupies was originally a garment factory built in the 1920s, and is very much a product of the construction methods of the time. Heavy timber columns, exposed steel beams, a raw concrete slab, and a 150' solid masonry wall that bisects the space provide an unexpected level of warmth and character.
"We wanted 3RD Space to maintain much of the original details and texture of the original building, while also creating a bright and warm environment that would blur the boundary between the comfort of the home and the traditional office," the studio stated. While preserving these details became a critical aspect of the project, the continuous brick wall blocked necessary circulation paths and created a fragmented feeling to the space, which was inconsistent with 3RD Space's desire for a more free-flowing communal environment. Therefore, a series of large openings in the masonry wall was designed to unify the space, providing multiple connection points and view corridors between zones. Additionally, the openings allowed for natural light from the perimeter windows to penetrate deeper into the floor plan, considerably brightening the 3RD Space environment.
To complement the rough textures of the existing building, a lighter material palette and more refined aesthetic were chosen for the new architectural elements that were inserted into the space. White aluminum storefront offices, frameless glass windows and doors, and white oak custom furniture elements provided a subtle contrast to the existing building. Pops of color were introduced through the integration of plants into the custom furniture design, which added another layer of vibrancy to the space.
This counterpoint between the original structure and the new architecture also influenced the design of the main lounge located in the center of the space. Bracketed by four large brick piers, the tiered seating element playfully winds its way between and around the columns providing a landscape for various types of interactions between the 3RD Space patrons. The amorphous seating structure is made up of bending plywood and white oak flooring for the seating surfaces. A large circular table that is integrated into the shape of the lounge for informal meetings was rendered in striking avocado green, while a concrete planter embedded in the seating structure lends additional contrast to the subdued tones of the wood.
Servicing both the public and 3RD Space members, the cafe was designed with a similar material pallet of white oak, brick, and rough aggregate exposed concrete to reference the overall 3RD Space aesthetic. Details unique to the independently run cafe were introduced creating a distinct experience for the space. A continuous marble bar wrapping the perimeter of the space was offset by a white oak wainscot adding a domestic feeling to the cafe, while delicate lighting fixtures and exposed ductwork contrast the heavy architecture of the original building.
Photography: Daniel Terna