A Look Inside HOLT Architects’ New HQ

22 04 2016

Most of my photos are from the outside, so it’s pretty cool when I get a chance to inside.

HOLT moved into their new digs at 619 West State Street a few weeks ago, a few minutes’ drive away from their old location at 217 North Aurora Street (a building that used to be Ithaca College’s gym). First walking in, one of the first things that stood out was that there was little street noise coming in from West State, even though several large windows front the road; the secretary said that even she was surprised with how quiet it is.

I like that HOLT displayed not just their latest work, but also several older building models in their reception area. Among the projects on display were the Educational Opportunity in Center in Buffalo; the Peggy Ryan Williams Center at Ithaca College; the Roy H. Park Building downtown, and a campus setting I didn’t quite recognize. The Roy H. Park Building was done in the early 1990s, so the Strand Theatre was still standing when the model was produced.

The spaces are pretty wide open; it was explained that this was purposely done to make it easy to exchange ideas between staff, who are often split into groups according to the projects they’re working on. Some of the desks are sitting, others are standing-enabled. The principals have personal offices on the east side of the building, the left side of the first photo below. The southern space / rear section is a miniature shop area to assemble models of projects.

I did get a chance to speak with a few of the architects on staff while visiting; one was Tom Covell, a long-time architect who recently joined the company from Rochester’s SWBR. SWBR was involved in the Cornerstone proposal for the Old Library project, but Covell said he was not a part of that work. Another architect who was nice enough to take out some time to chat was Andrew Gil, who specializes in architectural design of lab spaces; this led me off on some tangent about my primary employer, who is a major stakeholder/tenant in plans for a new building, and all of our senior research staff are essentially like kids in a candy store, while the architect is like the babysitter whom the parents only gave so many dollars to work with. Andrew, if you read this, thanks for tolerating my babbling.

Briefly, a few younger staff also introduced themselves – one was from the West Coast, another went to school in the region, and the third immigrated to the United States. It was definitely a mix of background, which hopefully translates to a variety of ideas.

The building is designed to be net-zero – the energy that goes in is equal to the amount of energy the building produces, so on the balance it has no impact on the power grid. This includes automated lighting systems, solar panels, and roof and building envelope improvements among other things. More info about the green features and the construction progress can be found in the blog’s “HOLT Architects” entries here. More about HOLT and their interest in the West End of Ithaca on the Voice here.

For the sake of acknowledgement, there were a few of their latest projects on the tables; but that wasn’t the point of the visit. They’ll hit the blog pages when they’re ready.

A big, big thanks to HOLT’s Maria Livingston for the tour!

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6 responses

22 04 2016
Airtight Spray Foam, Inc.

I have to say that I’ve seen the outside of the building and I’m totally UN-impressed.

Now seeing the inside I’m REALLY unimpressed.

I see no inspiration at all.

How do they expect to get work, when their (new) offices are so BLAH??

Regards, Gregory Szabo http://www.airtightsprayfoam.com http://www.kingtownbeach.com 607-227-2313

22 04 2016
drill deep

You were expecting the Taj Mahal? An indoor water feature? Maybe some spray foam would spruce it up a little.

I see a huge improvement and a practical work space. This isn’t where Google tries to shift the predominant paradigm. It is where billable hours are accrued and projects are completed for clients. Looks like a great space for that.
That’s just one opinion.

23 04 2016
Cornell PhD

The interior actually looks okay to me (if a little dark…is this what net zero looks like, gloomy because not much lighting?) Agree about the exterior though; it’s a shame more wasn’t done here by people who presumably know what better urbanism looks like.

24 04 2016

I agree the exterior is certainly nothing special (looks like a neighborhood 24 hour laundromat). I think the skylights are a plus, even though Ithaca has more gray days than not. Additional lighting would be an improvement. Otherwise it looks functional enough.

29 11 2016
602 West State Street Construction Update, 11/2016 | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] for the $1.7 million project, which is expected to be completed in March 2017. HOLT Architects, headquartered just across the street, is the design firm on record. The primary change during the review process was to limit the house […]

19 07 2017
602 West State Street Construction Update, 7/2017 | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] a block, one has the new Planned Parenthood (2014), the 17-unit Iacovelli Apartments (2013), the renovated HOLT Architects office (2016), a gas station renovated into the Jade Garden restaurant (2015), and the new microbrewery […]

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