Browse successful projects implemented for small businesses that have been a product of Design Corps volunteers’ dedicated work.
Jing Fong, the iconic Dim Sum restaurant in Chinatown, went from an 800-seat banquet hall to completely closed during the pandemic. They wanted to offer outdoor dining immediately, and envisioned a way to serve Dim Sum al fresco style that would be sustainable throughout NYC's changing seasons. The restaurant partnered with architect Olivia Lau at Lalire March Architects, who designed a patio which embodied Jing Fong's branding and held up to the harsh winter elements. The addition of floral arrangements was the perfect final touch to create a patio that is both beautiful and comfortable for dining.
With a corner lot in New York City’s historic Seaport District, the owner of SUteiShi, a sushi and Japanese restaurant, requested two outdoor dining pavilions to serve his customers. Located in the Front Street redevelopment, 24 Peck Slip is a modern building completed in 2006. It is heavily influenced by its neighboring historic neighbors as well as the area’s nautical past. Rather than opt for the least expensive option, the owner requested a design that felt like it belonged in the district while still representing the casual and elegant feel of his restaurant. Modern in spirit, the design takes a number of cues from the area. Exposed cold rolled metal studs are used for vertical structure to reference the exposed steel in the neighboring buildings, and exposed steel roof framing with translucent infill panels recall the adjacent suspended canopies. Balancing the lightness of the roof are the more massive forms at the base and side walls created with fiber cement panels, a modern take on the juxtaposition of the district’s ubiquitous masonry walls. Similarly, the wood slats along the rear of the structure continue the dialog of the horizontal shading devices along the building. The vibrant atmosphere inside the existing restaurant carries into the pavilion with the use of a vibrant red fiber cement panel and decorative lighting. Initial conversations about comfort within the pavilion during the colder periods drove the design of a radiant heating system to replace what was felt to be an uneven warmth of overhead heaters. The electric system is set in a sand bed and covered with tumbled concrete pavers to create a wheelchair friendly version of the cobblestone street beneath. Designed on a 4’-0” module to minimize construction waste, the structures can be reduced or increased in size depending on the owner’s needs, without additional design work. Currently, the larger pavilion meets the city’s size limit of 400 sf while the smaller pavilion is just over 70 sf due to the narrow lot and proximity to the crosswalk.
Construction of our first pro-bono Design Corps project has been completed – the outdoor dining build-out for Pro Thai in East Harlem. The completed project is truly the result of a team effort and a great example of how the architecture, design and construction industries are coming together to help small businesses survive during this pandemic – epitomizing the goals and ideals of the Design Corps. The key challenge at Pro Thai was the steep hill it is located on that complicated the design and detailing of their outdoor dining setup. To overcome this challenge, we had to innovate and expand on the basic DOT guidelines to incorporate a build-out that allowed handicap accessibility while complying with the other requirements of NYC’s Outdoor Dining program. Another key challenge was to keep the design and detailing simple to keep costs down. This goal was achieved through teamwork – since wood frame construction is not common within NYC, we consulted a structural engineer and collaborated with a contractor who has built hundreds of wood framed houses. Together, we developed the details and proper wood sizing to ensure strength and durability for withstanding NYC’s harsh winter and able to survive in the outdoor elements for at least 1 year.