An unused basement located below street front retail spaceprovided a raw starting point for the design of a new office space in a desirable northwest Washington, DC location. Sloping topography afforded the unexpected opportunity to incorporate windows at the south end of the 22-foot-wide, 110-foot-long space. The entrance is located at the rear of the property, a full story below the sidewalk level, between two buildings.
A series of planar walls oriented north/south organizes the plan andprovides visual penetration through the entire length of the office. These planar walls are painted white,in sharp juxtaposition tothe charcoal infused concrete floors. Perpendicular wooden walls and furniture elements punctuate the attenuated space and provide a warm contrast to the stark walls and floor. Acentrally located glass-enclosed conference room provides acoustical privacy without disrupting the visual axes. A floating wood ceiling plane, concealing HVAC infrastructure, extends through the 110-foot volume and serves as an element to further unite north and south work spaces. With the exception of bathrooms and mechanical rooms, the entirety of the space is open.
Almost all of the furniture is custom designed for the space. The vast majority of built-in millwork is constructed of quarter-sawn white oak and humble black plastic laminate. The conference room table is constructed with 18-inch steel channels while another steel and glass table anchors a smaller meeting space beyond. These components continue a theme of contrasting raw elements, including the concrete floors and exposed brick walls, with the more refined oak panels and glass walls. The light fixtures adopt this juxtaposition, through a combination of asymmetrically hanging bulbs and carefully placed recessed lights.
This project hopes to elevate the perception of “basement space” without employing expensive finishes, materials and light fixtures.