WORK Architecture Company: Generating Form Through Program

Dan Wood, AIA, and Amale Andraos have an illustrious past in the field of architecture; and gauging by the contents of the portfolio from their own firm, WORK Architecture Company, their present and future projects confirm their status as creative, innovative, and dedicated architects. For many years, both Wood and Andraos were principal designers in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and were involved in numerous high-profile projects, competitions, and research studies, including the Prada Epicenter Stores in New York and California, the Universal City Master Plan in Los Angeles, and the CalTrans Headquarters competition. Wood, in fact, was instrumental in opening OMA's offices in New York City. In 2002, the pair decided to branch off and create WORK Architecture Company -- or WORKac, as the firm is known. These architects brought with them experience in planning, interiors, and technology for projects at all scales.

The firm approaches each project with one prevailing programmatic detail that dictates the way in which the rest of the project is designed. Andraos explains, "We will come up with many singular concepts for a project, and we test each one until one particular notion clicks." WORKac executed the expansion and renovation of a Manhattan-based jewelry design showroom and office with the creation of a bead wall. A promenade, which stretches from the reception area to the showroom, is lined by a backlit wall that contains hundreds of containers of polychromatic beads. This design element not only gives an idea of the breadth of the company's jewelry line, but also acts as a functional storage area.

In the future headquarters of Diane Von Furstenburg Studio, WORKac will employ this single-element design concept once again. The renovation of two adjoining buildings into one large site will result in a multiprogrammed, five-floor building whose unifying element will be a stairwell running through all the floors, which the architects call the "stairdelier." The stairwell will be sheathed in a beaded curtain made from thousands of Swarovski crystals. Designed in collaboration with artists and technicians, it will serve as an energy-efficient way to distribute natural light from the penthouse's diamond-shaped rooftop into all levels of the building's interior.

In 2003, WORKac was commissioned to create a sustainable condominium apartment in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Broken down into two separate structures, the apartments will have a variety of views of the interior gardens, the street, and the neighboring sea. Each building will consist of two distinct areas -- the "wet zone" and the "dry zone." The wet zone will include the shower areas and the interior gardens within the apartments, and this zone will act as a frame to the outside views.

Wood is emphatic that when it comes to architecture, the process is often about who you meet and where the projects take you. Currently, Wood and Andraos both teach the same design studio at Princeton's School of Architecture. It's no coincidence that the topic they're exploring is the urban planning of the same city in Panama where they will be building. "We're working with students and looking at topics such as containment versus sprawl for the city of Bocas Del Toro," says Wood. "We are challenging the students to create a plan that will consist of buildings using sustainable practices with cutting-edge technologies. What's also important is the design of these buildings -- the time has come where you shouldn't have to apologize for the look of the building simply because it's sustainable."

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