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Tag Archives: Zack McKown

Tsao & McKown Lets History Shine at Sunbrella’s North Carolina Headquarters

PROJECT NAME Sunbrella HQ
LOCATION Burlington, North Carolina
FIRM Tsao & McKown Architects
SQ. FT. 100,000 SQF

“We truly cross the divide,” Calvin Tsao begins, meaning: “We’re equally comfortable with architecture and interior design.” So naturally Tsao & McKown wasamong the talented mix-masters that members of the Gant family wanted to meet when they were planning headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina, for their growing Sunbrella brand. The Gants had their eye on converting the early 20th–century former mill they owned across the street from a building Sunbrella shared with its parent company, Glen Raven. “We had the aha moment, literally, in looking at our birthplace,” Glen Raven chairman Allen Gant Jr. says. “So we weren’t looking for an architect who could design us the most beautiful building—we felt we already had that. But instead for someone who could understand the functionality of the business.”

By de­molishing a 60-year-old addition to a 1901 former mill and restoring its original brick, Tsao & McKown created the lobby for the Sunbrella headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Interior Design Hall of Fame members Tsao and his life partner Zack McKown were introduced to the Gants by two reliable sources. First was our own editor in chief Cindy Allen, who had recommended the firm. Then, around the same time, Sunbrella consultant Sherri Donghia also put their name forward—Tsao and McKown having designed furniture for her own family-run company in 2004.

A new custom window brightens samples in the sales showroom. Photography by Eric Laignel.

“Sherri set us up on a blind date,” says Allen Gant III, whose great-grandfather founded Glen Raven, which invented panty hose in 1958 but is now known for its performance fabrics. “We’d interviewed a half dozen world-class architects,” Gant Jr. explains. “Then we met Calvin and Zack,” Gant III continues. “And Calvin said, I want to know how people feel when they get here. He’s so in touch with the human aspect of design that he felt like part of the family. He and Zack are infectious.”

Original pine flooring, which was just refinished, still has imbedded metal shavings from the mill’s old looms. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

And so a year-long courtship began. Tsao elucidates, “After we agreed on this ‘dating period,’ we began interviewing all the staff, creating questionnaires, and holding workshops—‘diagnostics’ we call it.” But both sides continued to keep their options open. “It gave the Gants the latitude to serial date—neither of us wanted to spend a year on this only to end up breaking up and never see each other again. But it was successful, so we got engaged,” Tsao adds with his trademark chuckle.

Removing a floor slab resulted in a central atrium that maintained the original structural pine columns and beams. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Tsao & McKown started by knocking down an unsightly 60-year-old addition to the 118-year-old mill, leaving its original 100,000 square feet over two levels and exposing an original brick facade that was in need of a little love. Luckily, the Gants had a friend with a 1905 mill built by the same brick mason that had recently been torn down, so the architects were able to seamlessly integrate the renovations amongst the original structural columns and ceiling beams. Installing a new glass curtain wall and windows and removing a floor slab resulted in adding copious natural light, most notably in the lobby, where massive stadium seating greets employees as does an adjacent café for their morning coffee fix. A requested auditorium was niftily inserted beneath the lobby seating, with corridors running past to an atrium at the core. There, a new stairway allows access to the employee lounge as well as various office areas and meeting rooms that run to the sunny perimeter. “There’s so much light coming in that you can actually grow plants,” McKown notes. “So we put in two internal gardens.”

A Jens Risom chair and an Eero Saarinen table face a built-in sofa inspired by Donald Judd designs in the café. Photography by Eric Laignel.

The gardens are part of what Tsao refers to as unprogrammed social spaces, “for casual meetings,” he states. “Which is a really hard thing to understand for people trying to get the maximum out of real estate, but we explored that there needs to be a gamut of spaces for working. You’ve got your desk, your meeting rooms, places to hang out, and then there are what we call ‘accidental spaces’. The Gants had to have faith in us that these social spaces are actually effective.” And they did. “I truly believe you need to remove the shackles from people,” Gant Jr. says. “This building provides a place where our associates can innovate beyond our wildest dreams. We’re 138 years old and I expectfor us to be here for another 138.” The staff, many of them locals who have been with the company for decades, even generations, are equally enthusiastic. “I walk in each morning and take a deep breath in awe,” division controller Crystal Coleman says. “This space has relaxed my muscle tension,” assistant division controller Sandy Filarski adds.

Beyond the new glass-and-steel curtain wall, a 46-foot-wide swath of pine stadium seating fills the lobby. Cushions covers rotate a selection of Sunbrella fabrics. Photography by Eric Laignel.

“It’s a match made in heaven,” McKown concludes. “Rarely do we work with someone who doesn’t lord over us but instead sits beside us. The Gants respect people, which makes them an extraordinary client.” A client that has him and Tsao finishing up a contiguous ground-up visitor’s center and a footbridge that will connect the old and new buildings in what will be a three-building campus. The relationship also led to the Sunbrella Great Hall by Tsao & McKown, a magnificent swooping fabric installation at the River Pavilion in New York for Interior Design’s annual Hall of Fame gala. So do architect and client finally consider it a marriage? “Of course,” Tsao laughs, “we’re already in therapy.”

Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >

A lounge is scattered with custom sectionals. Photography by Eric Laignel.
The auditorium seating 118 was added beneath the lobby. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A newly landscaped courtyard adjoining the entry accommodates indoor-outdoor events. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A Sunbrella acrylic-blend covering the auditorium’s chairs. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A new staircase in wood-clad steel. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Ferns growing in one of two indoor gardens. Photography by Eric Laignel.
An original structural column. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A sample of Ghislaine Viñas’s Mr. Dimple, an HBF Textiles fabric made with Sunbrella acrylic. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Lievore Altherr Molina stools in the design studio covered in Shift, a Sunbrella acrylic-polyester blend. Photography by Eric Laignel.
The design team’s Sunbrella-covered pin-up boards. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Sunbrella’s acrylic Select collection. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A custom stool made from a roll of Sunbrella acrylic-polyester felt. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Project Team: Richard Rhodes; Justin Scurlock, Chandler Oldham: Tsao & McKown. Plageman Architecture: Architect Of Record. Burohappold Engineering: Lighting Consultant, Facade Engineer. Silman; Structural Solutions: Structural Engineers. Landmark Facilities Group: MEP. Harrison Industries; Structural Wood Systems: Woodwork. Samet Corporation: General Contractor.

Product Sources: From Top: Miles Talbott: Sofas, Chairs (Showroom). Unique Concepts: Coffee Table. Big Ass Fans: Fans (Atrium). Knoll: Chair, Table (Café). Stitch NYC: Custom Sectionals (Lounge). Sien + Co: Pillows. Sedia Systems: Chairs, Desks (Auditorium). Coalesse: Stools (Design Studio). Throughout: Glen Raven Custom Fabrics: Upholstery.Liz Collins: Custom Curtains.

> See more from the May 2019 issue of Interior Design

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Tsao & McKown Lets History Shine at Sunbrella’s North Carolina Headquarters

PROJECT NAME Sunbrella HQ
LOCATION Burlington, North Carolina
FIRM Tsao & McKown Architects
SQ. FT. 100,000 SQF

“We truly cross the divide,” Calvin Tsao begins, meaning: “We’re equally comfortable with architecture and interior design.” So naturally Tsao & McKown wasamong the talented mix-masters that members of the Gant family wanted to meet when they were planning headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina, for their growing Sunbrella brand. The Gants had their eye on converting the early 20th–century former mill they owned across the street from a building Sunbrella shared with its parent company, Glen Raven. “We had the aha moment, literally, in looking at our birthplace,” Glen Raven chairman Allen Gant Jr. says. “So we weren’t looking for an architect who could design us the most beautiful building—we felt we already had that. But instead for someone who could understand the functionality of the business.”

By de­molishing a 60-year-old addition to a 1901 former mill and restoring its original brick, Tsao & McKown created the lobby for the Sunbrella headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Interior Design Hall of Fame members Tsao and his life partner Zack McKown were introduced to the Gants by two reliable sources. First was our own editor in chief Cindy Allen, who had recommended the firm. Then, around the same time, Sunbrella consultant Sherri Donghia also put their name forward—Tsao and McKown having designed furniture for her own family-run company in 2004.

A new custom window brightens samples in the sales showroom. Photography by Eric Laignel.

“Sherri set us up on a blind date,” says Allen Gant III, whose great-grandfather founded Glen Raven, which invented panty hose in 1958 but is now known for its performance fabrics. “We’d interviewed a half dozen world-class architects,” Gant Jr. explains. “Then we met Calvin and Zack,” Gant III continues. “And Calvin said, I want to know how people feel when they get here. He’s so in touch with the human aspect of design that he felt like part of the family. He and Zack are infectious.”

Original pine flooring, which was just refinished, still has imbedded metal shavings from the mill’s old looms. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

And so a year-long courtship began. Tsao elucidates, “After we agreed on this ‘dating period,’ we began interviewing all the staff, creating questionnaires, and holding workshops—‘diagnostics’ we call it.” But both sides continued to keep their options open. “It gave the Gants the latitude to serial date—neither of us wanted to spend a year on this only to end up breaking up and never see each other again. But it was successful, so we got engaged,” Tsao adds with his trademark chuckle.

Removing a floor slab resulted in a central atrium that maintained the original structural pine columns and beams. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Tsao & McKown started by knocking down an unsightly 60-year-old addition to the 118-year-old mill, leaving its original 100,000 square feet over two levels and exposing an original brick facade that was in need of a little love. Luckily, the Gants had a friend with a 1905 mill built by the same brick mason that had recently been torn down, so the architects were able to seamlessly integrate the renovations amongst the original structural columns and ceiling beams. Installing a new glass curtain wall and windows and removing a floor slab resulted in adding copious natural light, most notably in the lobby, where massive stadium seating greets employees as does an adjacent café for their morning coffee fix. A requested auditorium was niftily inserted beneath the lobby seating, with corridors running past to an atrium at the core. There, a new stairway allows access to the employee lounge as well as various office areas and meeting rooms that run to the sunny perimeter. “There’s so much light coming in that you can actually grow plants,” McKown notes. “So we put in two internal gardens.”

A Jens Risom chair and an Eero Saarinen table face a built-in sofa inspired by Donald Judd designs in the café. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

The gardens are part of what Tsao refers to as unprogrammed social spaces, “for casual meetings,” he states. “Which is a really hard thing to understand for people trying to get the maximum out of real estate, but we explored that there needs to be a gamut of spaces for working. You’ve got your desk, your meeting rooms, places to hang out, and then there are what we call ‘accidental spaces’. The Gants had to have faith in us that these social spaces are actually effective.” And they did. “I truly believe you need to remove the shackles from people,” Gant Jr. says. “This building provides a place where our associates can innovate beyond our wildest dreams. We’re 138 years old and I expectfor us to be here for another 138.” The staff, many of them locals who have been with the company for decades, even generations, are equally enthusiastic. “I walk in each morning and take a deep breath in awe,” division controller Crystal Coleman says. “This space has relaxed my muscle tension,” assistant division controller Sandy Filarski adds.

Beyond the new glass-and-steel curtain wall, a 46-foot-wide swath of pine stadium seating fills the lobby. Cushions covers rotate a selection of Sunbrella fabrics. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

“It’s a match made in heaven,” McKown concludes. “Rarely do we work with someone who doesn’t lord over us but instead sits beside us. The Gants respect people, which makes them an extraordinary client.” A client that has him and Tsao finishing up a contiguous ground-up visitor’s center and a footbridge that will connect the old and new buildings in what will be a three-building campus. The relationship also led to the Sunbrella Great Hall by Tsao & McKown, a magnificent swooping fabric installation at the River Pavilion in New York for Interior Design’s annual Hall of Fame gala. So do architect and client finally consider it a marriage? “Of course,” Tsao laughs, “we’re already in therapy.”

Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >

A lounge is scattered with custom sectionals. Photography by Eric Laignel.
The auditorium seating 118 was added beneath the lobby. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A newly landscaped courtyard adjoining the entry accommodates indoor-outdoor events. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A Sunbrella acrylic-blend covering the auditorium’s chairs. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A new staircase in wood-clad steel. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Ferns growing in one of two indoor gardens. Photography by Eric Laignel.
An original structural column. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A sample of Ghislaine Viñas’s Mr. Dimple, an HBF Textiles fabric made with Sunbrella acrylic. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Lievore Altherr Molina stools in the design studio covered in Shift, a Sunbrella acrylic-polyester blend. Photography by Eric Laignel.
The design team’s Sunbrella-covered pin-up boards. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Sunbrella’s acrylic Select collection. Photography by Eric Laignel.
A custom stool made from a roll of Sunbrella acrylic-polyester felt. Photography by Eric Laignel.

 

Project Team: Richard Rhodes; Justin Scurlock: Tsao & McKown. Plageman Architecture: Architect Of Record. Burohappold Engineering: Lighting Consultant, Facade Engineer. Silman; Structural Solutions: Structural Engineers. Landmark Facilities Group: MEP. Harrison Industries; Structural Wood Systems: Woodwork. Samet Corporation: General Contractor.

Product Sources: From Top: Miles Talbott: Sofas, Chairs (Showroom). Unique Concepts: Coffee Table. Big Ass Fans: Fans (Atrium). Knoll: Chair, Table (Café). Stitch NYC: Custom Sectionals (Lounge). Sien + Co: Pillows. Sedia Systems: Chairs, Desks (Auditorium). Coalesse: Stools (Design Studio). Throughout: Glen Raven Custom Fabrics: Upholstery.Liz Collins: Custom Curtains.

Continue reading Tsao & McKown Lets History Shine at Sunbrella’s North Carolina Headquarters

10 Simply Amazing Vacation Homes

Design-minded retreats to jump-start a getaway.

1. Miami Beach Pied-à-Terre by Alessandro Isola

A laid-back, sand-between-the-toes spirit pervades this sophisticated Miami pied-à-terre. “The look is intentionally unusual, but there’s also a sense of fun because we’re in Miami Beach,” Alessandro Isolasays. Working within the building’s minimalistic 1,500-square-foot layout, Isola creates a multipurpose two-bedroom apartment that can accommodate a couple and four children. The master bedroom doubles as a private lounge with the bed’s leather-upholstered platform and the children’s room features padded leather wall and flooring panels for a soft play area.

2. 15th-Century Croatian House by Rees Roberts + Partners LLC and Antonio Zaninovic

Rees Roberts + Partners LLC partnered with Cape Town-based architect Antonio Zaninovic to create a 2,200-square-foot island retreat off Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. As the original high walls were removed and the underbrush cleared, the elegant shapes of the olive trees were visible and revealed a spectacular view of the Adriatic Sea. Ruins once buried under rubble were repurposed as a foundation for the swimming pool and an ancient limestone cistern became a sink basin in the powder room. 

3. Hamptons Weekend House by MODE Interior Designs and CCS Architecture

Mode Interior Designs founder Sharon Bonnemazou and her husband enlisted CCS Architecture to create a “rustic, low-key, quietly luxurious” 5,000-square-feet weekend house on a secluded waterfront property in Water Mill, New York. Bonnemazou‘s vision was informed by the modernist residences she remembered from her childhood in Southern California and the style of houses her real-estate developer father built in South Korea. 

4. Marble Falls Vacation Home by Lake | Flato Architects and Plus Two Interiors Design

Lake | Flato Architects and Plus Two Interiors Design collaborated on an easygoing, contemporary vacation home and boathouse near Marble Falls, Texas. Architect Ted Flato’s design was simple: a single three-story building poised midway up the rise, 120 feet uphill from the boathouse. “The main house is nestled between the peak and the lake,” Flato says. “The configuration celebrates the land as well as the water.” The home’s structure is all about movement and connections with a freeflowing dialogue between the indoors and outdoors; only 2,700 of its 4,900-square-feet are interior.

5. Berkshires House by Tsao & McKown Architects

Tsao & McKown Architects were commissioned to build a 7,000-square-foot house in Alford, Massachusetts, facing the distant Berkshire Hills. Architect Zack McKown says, “There would be a specific view from the kitchen, during breakfast, and another from the bedroom, in the evening.” To make that possible, architect Calvin Tsaonotes, “We realized that a normal, orthogonal building wouldn’t do.” The house instead follows the path of the sun, resulting in a C configuration composed of smaller asymmetrically angled volumes, which allowed the windows to frame the unique mountain views.

6. Cape Cod Guesthouse by Hariri & Hariri

Hariri & Hariri Architecture built a 2,400-square-foot guesthouse for the Cape Code residence that was originally designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. The Hariri sisters and their client were inspired by Gropius’s Cape Code National Seashore manifesto to modernize the city’s landscape, and so they chose a “revolutionary yet livable” design. It was important “to respect the architecture of a place but at the same time push forward to our time,” Gisue Haririsays. 

7. Australian Holiday Retreat by O’Connor and Houle Architecture

There’s a pleasing balance between unpretentious simplicity and cosmopolitan sophistication in this Australian holiday retreat that Stephen O’Connor and Annick Houle designed for their own family in the village of Blairgowrie. The property’s pair of single-story structures, a main house and a separate studio with a home office, fit in nicely with the village’s summer beach-shack character.

8. Duplex Penthouse at Ski Resort by PeNDa

Architecture firm PeNDa designed this duplex penthouse apartment in the Zhangjiakou ski resort, located in the mountains north of Beijing. PeNDa designed the upstairs for their client’s own use and downstairs as semiautonomous guest quarters. Throughout the 1,800-square-foot lower level, the white walls and ceiling may remind you of the cold outside, but with radiant heating, “it’s actually very cozy,” principal Chris Precht says.

9. Hamptons Beach Cabin by Bates Masi Architects

This 600-square-foot beach cabin in Amagansett, New York, was difficult to build given its inverse proportion to size. A legal judgment allowed Bates Masi + Architects to construct the Hamptons cabin on a footprint of 15 by 20 feet, more than 6 feet above-grade, but not more than 25 feet tall. To maximize the height, glass walls help visually enlarge the bedrooms and the exceptionally lean floors and ceilings were built without integral ductwork. 

10. Scottish Beach House by WT Architecture

The clients, a family with two teenage children, wanted a Scottish beach house to spend weekends and holidays. Their 1970’s bungalow in the harbor town of Elie pays tribute to “the big, pale, southern sky,” WT Architecture principal William Tunnell says. The 3,000-square-foot beach house has two wings that frame views of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth lighthouse. “As the tide flows in and out, colors reflect off the golden beach and the water,” Tunnell says. To capture those reflections, he designed the inside “as clean and simple as possible.”

Continue reading 10 Simply Amazing Vacation Homes

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