via Facility Executive: Fir Tree Partners is a New York City-based, private investment firm that invests worldwide in public and private companies, real estate and sovereign debt, managing assets on behalf of leading endowments, foundations, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. Founder and President, Jeffrey David Tannenbaum, established Fir Tree Partners in 1994 and distinguished the company by establishing a work and life culture respectful of people and their work environment. What would become known as a “sustainability mission” was at the time, an innovative approach to raise the standards on workplace design for the benefit of the employees.
Fir Tree Partners engaged Kostow Greenwood Architects for four separate office designs beginning in 1999 (NYC – 535 Fifth Ave; NYC – 505 Fifth Ave; Miami; NYC – 55 W 46th) and through incremental and determined decisions, has proven that the relationship-focused financial industry can thrive in a people-centric office designed with the highest standards of wellness.
The most recent project that Kostow Greenwood Architects carried out for Fir Tree Partners is for the firm’s office at 55 W. 46th Street in New York City. This project was designed to exceed the LEED Silver standard in terms of sustainably sourced materials and MEP systems and controls. Further, in order to support a healthy and productive workplace, many concepts of The WELL Building Standard were incorporated including: improved air quality, drinking water and nourishment, access to natural lighting and lighting control, acoustical and thermal comfort, and ergonomic seating and workstations.
Design challenges included:
- Abiding by an “eco scorecard” while identifying construction and design components that meet industry code and serve the function and purpose of the workplace environment.
- Defying the industry assumption that incorporating sustainable elements into corporate design is costly, Fir Tree Partners’ directive to Kostow Greenwood Architects was to identify sustainable solutions within an established budget and to raise the awareness level among employees as to the reasoning behind the design elements.
- Repurposing of existing and in good condition furniture, as well as other notable elements from the previous NYC office location was a driving principle to reducing waste. The client’s now famous directive that “Not one thing goes into a landfill” (including furniture) guided several decisions.
To deliver on the client’s vision, the project team executed the following design elements in a number of areas:
- All Architectural Materials and Furniture were specified for low VOC, Particulate Matter, Inorganic Gases and Radon content as well as Fundamental Material Safety: Asbestos, Mercury and Lead Restriction
- Smoking Ban: No smoking indoors or within 25 ft of the exterior entrance
- Ventilation Design: Complies with all requirements set forth in ASHRAE 62.1-2013
- Ventilation Balancing: After substantial completion the Ventilation System was balanced
- Construction Pollution Management was enforced throughout the project
- Building Entryway is Air Sealed
- Fir Tree Partners has a Cleaning Protocol that incorporates Natural Products
- No Pesticides are allowed
- All drinking water is filtered for sediment, microorganisms, dissolved metals, organic pollutants
- Water is periodically tested and system is maintained
Nourishment & Fitness:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as healthy snacks are provided on a regular basis
- High calorie juices, snacks and heavily processed foods are not provided
- Nutritional information is provided
- Hand washing supplies, clean cutting surfaces and proper cold storage facilities are provided
- Cafe and Break out Areas are designed with optimum light and convivial spaces
- The building has a gym open to all occupants, with Cardiorespiratory and Muscle Strengthening Equipment
- Bicycle Storage is provided in the building
- All workstations are Height Adjustable enabling working while standing or sitting
- Lighting is designed with criteria with a focus on visual acuity, as well as brightness management with minimum glare
- Window shades are provided to manage daylight and heat loads
- Hi Color Rendering Index lamps specified
- Work surfaces are designed for low reflectivity
- All offices and workstations are provided with natural daylight
- The workspace is 100% Accessible
- Acoustics are designed to minimize sound transmission within open areas as well as from Conference Rooms and Offices to Open Areas
- Several Quiet Rooms and a Wellness Room are designed for comfort and privacyThe space was designed to be visually pleasing with neutral and warm color accents.
- Live plants were incorporated into all open and shared spaces
Design solutions included:
Demolition and Construction Management:
- Furniture and materials from the existing space were re-used, re-cycled or properly disposed of
A daylighting system was incorporated to minimize the use of electrical lights when daylight is adequate
Repurposed wood was used to construct the table and cabinetry in the Cafe