Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE) is a firm steeped in history. Schwartz himself has
been on the cutting edge of communicating traffic patterns and civil engineering in
New York City for decades. So their new offices needed to reflect that in a fun and
engaging way that would foster a new generation of forward-thinking engineers—all
converged onto a very tight floorplate.
The first task for Vocon was to create a unique experience within the reception
area. “They didn’t want to be the same old stagnant engineering company,” explained
Lance Amato, RA, LEED AP BD+C, IIDA, director.
Amato recalled piling into a van and taking a trip to the New York City Depot
of Signs (yes, there is such a thing) where signs of all types and direction from the
1930s on go to die. They gathered up a number of them and for more than 16 hours
screwed them into the ceiling in the reception area. Underneath it is a reception desk
constructed from railroad ties. “That’s their culture: very hands-on, and they love what
they do,” Amato said.
Recurring elements throughout include the wheel (as biking is very popular within
the Sam Schwartz team), and materials such as metal and concrete. Traffic lights are
used to signal conference room occupancy, while silhouettes of pedestrians adorn the
walls. High-traffic zones are noted with stripes down the center of the carpet to create
the sense of a roadway.
SSE also wanted the opportunity to expand in the future. A collaborative, open
environment achieves that with benching solutions that allow for flexibility if additional
employees should come on board. Additionally, sliding cubby units can create privacy
or be moved closer to make room for the new talent who will undoubtedly be attracted to a space that embodies such original thought.
OPPOSITE + LEFT The Sam Schwartz offices
achieve an industrial aesthetic with Edison
bulbs and raw wood in the pantry and “biking”
conference room, where you’ll also find
custom wheel lights by Crystal Omara
of Remains Designs.
ABOVE + BELOW Edison lightbulbs
are featured over the island in
the pantry; private offices open
up into the collaborative work
space, providing a variety of
ambiances and privacy levels.