June 7, 2017

Centerbridge’s New Seagram Building HQ by LSM Nods to Transparency

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, completed for the Canadian whiskey distiller in 1958, is New York’s modernist jewel. But sometimes even icons need an update. After renewing a lease for three levels there, Centerbridge Partners knew it was time to rethink its headquarters. So the private-equity firm called Interior Design Hall of Fame member Debra Lehman Smith and James McLeish’s firm, LSM, to devise a plan that would visually define Centerbridge’s current identity and set the stage for future growth.

Lehman Smith says she encouraged Centerbridge to undertake “one big move,” architecturally. So she opened up a double-height atrium that anchors the office and symbolizes Centerbridge’s commitment to transparency and collaboration. From the atrium’s ceiling, an installation of glass panels commissioned from artist Spencer Finch is suspended on near-invisible wires.

Renovated elevator lobby. Photography by Peter Aaron/Otto.

Meanwhile, care was taken to respect the landmarked building. LSM restored the existing travertine in the elevator lobby and worked with the original structural engineer, Severud Associates, to expose some steel columns. Lehman Smith calls the result “a present-day view into Seagram.”

“It doesn’t feel as if something new has been inserted, though,” she continues. “Rather, through restoration, the space unfolds to embrace the integrity of the structure.” Let’s raise a glass to that.

> See more from the May 2017 issue of Interior Design

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