When Cuningham Group opened its first office in 1968, founding principal John Cuningham envisioned the company’s own space as the physical and intellectual embodiment of its overlapping ideals. “Today, these “touchstones” are more integral than ever before, to Cuningham Group and its corporate clients,” notes Cuningham Group architect and principal Amelia Doyle Feichtner. For example, “Architects operate in service to society.” “Design excellence through collaboration is always our goal.” “Green solutions for our clients and our planet are a priority.” “Each project should be designed for the betterment of its community, and society, as a whole.” “Sustainability and green design are a natural extension of our core ideologies as architects.” This philosophy remains truer than ever 45 years later for Cuningham Group clients and employees alike, not only in Culver City, CA as the company’s newest office, but at other company offices in throughout the United States, China ad Korea..
Ms. Feichtner points out that the 12,000-sq.-ft. new office is a candidate for LEED Gold certification in 2014. The 18,000-sq.-ft. building itself is an “adaptable reuse” conversion from a 50-year-old concrete “tilt-up” type of warehouse, that has housed creative uses such as movie production and film sets throughout its history. Expansive windows and four large skylights introduce abundant natural light. “Trickle” vents allow outside Pacific Ocean breezes to circulate through the space, cutting carbon emissions from sole use of electric air conditioning. A substantial indoor employee-grown garden filters this interior air, and provides employees with a direct interior connection at all times to Southern California nature. A new vegetable garden is planned for behind the building and will be fertilized by compost created from office food waste.
Visually connecting large glass windows and doors at the front and rear of the building is a semi-circular, asymmetrically curved structure of sustainable wood, which spans 60 feet from front to back and is 17-feet wide. Its three-dimensional wood design is in a uniform, thinly scaled crisscrossing Lamella pattern of parallel wood arches, skewed to one side of this unique covered interior space. This curved wood structure complements the overall three-dimensionality of two meeting rooms contained within. Employees nicknamed it “the Tunnel,” though it is light, airy and displays the richness of the wood and patterns employed.
“The space and its light not only materially foster a creative, collaborative work setting among Cuningham Group employees, its outside specialists and our clients during meetings and presentations, they have become essential elements of the building’s energy-efficient systems altogether, and exemplify smart use of up-to-date technology,” comments Jonathan Watts, a company principal, architect and lead designer of the Culver City space.
Many of the low-energy, low maintenance electric lighting fixtures used throughout the new Cuningham Group office were specified from established Southern California manufacturer, A-Light, which makes energy-conserving, architecturally-designed, interior and exterior linear LED and fluorescent fixtures.
As a collaborating member of the Cuningham Group working on the lighting specification for the company’s new space was professional lighting designer, Justin Horvath, now Director of Design & Development for A-Light.
Abbreviated article by Bill Schoenfisch, PR Images