NoMad has increasingly established itself as New York City’s center for the tech and creative industries. Many of our neighbors are having major impact on the world, and recently, we were delighted to learn about one of them — Atema Architecture and some of the firm’s incredible projects.
Atema Architecture is an award-winning small firm, founded by Ate Atema in 2003. It has an expansive portfolio that includes design for apartments, homes, offices and public spaces.
The firm has received premier attention in the media, including from The New York Times, for experimental project proposals, such as its ingenious redevelopment plan for Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal and its surroundings. Visit TEDxGowanus to see Ate Atema’s presentation on the project, which features handsome walkways near the Canal and a street runoff system that replicates the natural wetland drainage of pre-settlement Gowanus.
The TEDx presentation brings us to another of Atema’s most noteworthy projects: the design of the TED headquarters in New York. As can be seen in the photo below, the office design speaks to TED’s spirit of transparency with its clear walls and open spaces.
We asked Atema about how the vibrant project came to pass. He replied, “I met Chris Anderson (the owner and head of TED) several years ago at a holiday party, and he mentioned he was interviewing architects for their new office. He asked if I could send him some material, but by then it was late in the process and they’d already committed to someone. Two years later, when they’d outgrown that space, he called me. We met for a coffee near his office and discussed his inspiration and vision for the company. Chris distilled the essence of TED down to sharing ideas and theater. I knew then that the office needed to be organized around an actual theatre. He loved the idea, hired us, and that was the genesis for the design we created.
“The theater became the heart of the office, an easily transformable circular space with mobile bleachers and curtains used for everything from informal meetings to a quiet work area, lunches, reception seating, and performances and lectures that became TED content.”
We asked Atema about some of his favorite NoMad memories, and he surprised us with some real gems from the days before NoMad and Madison Square Park enjoyed the recent resurgence. “I remember being in the neighborhood in those early days,” Atema told Experience NoMad, “as Danny Meyer was helping start the Madison Square Park Conservancy and Shake Shack was just a very good hot dog cart. It’s hard to believe what a sad park it was before that effort, given what a magnet it is now with its excellent public art program, a beautiful playground, and the mothership of all Shake Shacks.”
In part due to their proximity to Madison Square Park, the transportation options, amazing food, and the design showrooms in the neighborhood, NoMad was a no-brainer when it came time to settle on a home for Atema Architecture.
We’re glad they are here and wish them every success as we look forward to their next big project. In terms of what lies ahead for the company, Atema is looking to scale up in the near future with larger projects. See his interview on Archinect.
79 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016