WORK's Fashionable Brand of Architecture

With projects for Diane von Furstenberg and Anthropologie, this Manhattan-based firm draws strength from diverse perspectives

Having worked on major projects such as the Seattle Public Library, Prada flagship stores, and the master plan for Universal Studios  in Los Angeles while at Rem Koolhaas's Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Dan Wood, AIA, and Amale Andraos knew they would have to downshift scales when they opened their own firm, WORK Architecture Company, in 2002. But they had no idea that their first commission would be a doghouse. Undeterred, they applied their notions of creative programming, intense research, and collaborative design to developing a canine residence that would be auctioned to raise money for an organization called Puppies Behind Bars. Rethinking the function of a doghouse (typically just a place for a pooch to sleep), they designed a high-tech Villa Pup where an urban Fido can run on a treadmill while watching videos of chasing cars and catching Frisbees. They even added an odor machine to provide the lucky dog with all of the smells of such activities.

Since then, the husband-and-wife team of Wood and Andraos has moved up the architectural food chain and is designing a six-story headquarters and retail complex for Diane von Furstenberg in Manhattan’s newly hip Meatpacking District, three stores for the Anthropologie retail chain, the master plan for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Cultural District, and several lofts for wealthy clients. They have also entered major design competitions, including one for a “green-belt city” in Las Vegas that is not going forward, and one for a cultural complex in the central Chinese city of Xian that should be decided soon. As they did at OMA, Wood and Andraos start every project with an intense examination of program—pulling it apart, reassembling it in different ways, and imagining new components. “We’re interested in the world of ideas,” says Wood, “but ideas made physical.” This emphasis on building, not just theory, generated the firm’s name. “We wanted to define ourselves through what we do, through the work itself,” explains Andraos.

From their studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Wood and Andraos are working mostly locally, but thinking globally. Wood comes from Rhode Island, but has lived in Paris and Rotterdam. Andraos was born in Beirut and has lived in Saudi Arabia, Canada, France, and Holland. Their 12 employees come from places such as Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Korea, Spain, and Australia. “We see difference as a strength, as a source of ideas,” states Wood. Both of the principals teach and see their academic work as a critical part of their practice. Not only do they use their teaching studios to research topics such as eco-urbanism that they apply in their practice, but they stay connected with other young architects who are also teaching.  Comparing themselves to their contemporaries, Wood says with a laugh, “We’re boxes, not blobs.”

With Andraos’s roots in the Middle East, she and Wood have traveled to Beirut and Dubai. “There’s a lot at stake in these places—for cities, for cultures coming together,” she states. She and Wood hope WORK can contribute to that convergence.

Founded: 2002

Design staff: 14

Principals: Dan Wood, AIA, and Amale Andraos

Education: Wood: Columbia, M.Arch., 1992; University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1989; Andraos: Harvard, M.Arch., 1999; McGill, B.Arch., 1996

Work history: Wood: Practice—OMA, Rotterdam and New York, 1993–2002; Keenen/Riley, New York, 1991–92; Academic—Ohio State, 2006; Princeton, 2004–present; Cooper Union, 2004–05; Andraos: Practice—OMA, Rotterdam and New York, 1999–2002; Atelier Big City, Montreal, 1996–97; Academic—Harvard, 2005–present; Ohio State, 2006; Princeton, 2004–present

Key completed projects: The Good Life exhibition, Van Alen Institute, New York City, 2006; D’Amelio Terras Gallery, New York City, 2006; 7 Essex Street Loft, New York City, 2005; Lee Angel offices and showroom, New York City, 2004; Creative Edge Parties offices and tasting room, New York City, 2004; Isaac Mizrahi for Target store, New York City, 2003; Big Love stage set, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas, 2002

Key current projects: Anthropologie stores, Dos Lagos, Calif., Shrewsbury, N.J., and Nashville, Tenn., 2006–07; Diane von Furstenberg Studio headquarters, New York City, 2007; Eden Lun showroom, New York City, 2007; Creative Time offices, New York City, 2007; White Street Residence, New York City, 2008; BAM Cultural District master plan, 2010

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