A Brighter Shade of Pale
Jackie Cooperman -- Interior Design, 1/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
"Forward-thinking, chic, and comfortable don't always go hand in hand," says Danny Errico, who recently partnered with restaurant entrepreneur Stephen Hanson to open the Gym in New York. Being part of the family that founded the Equinox health-club chain, Errico brought the fitness muscle to the Gym project, and he's familiar with the challenges inherent to integrating sweaty bodies and hard-working equipment into an attractive setting.
Will Meyer and Gray Davis are versed in attractive settings of a very different sort. Before the two Tennessee-born designers formed Meyer Davis Studio in 1999, Meyer worked for Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, where clients included Steven Spielberg; Davis, employed by Aero Studios, designed retail stores for Giorgio Armani. "Having worked for really high-end clients, we bring that level of detail to every project," says Meyer. As the principals of their own firm, they've completed dozens of glamorous commissions, including Winona Ryder's Manhattan apartment, the Abbey Hotel in South Beach, and several Oscar de la Renta boutiques nationwide.
The Gym project entailed transforming an existing health club on the third and fourth floors of a building overlooking Madison Square Park. On the 4,000-square-foot upper level, Meyer Davis found a reception area, locker rooms, four cramped offices overlooking an air shaft, and space for a small lounge. The lower level offered 6,500 square feet that became large weight-training areas at each end, flanking two trainers' offices, an exercise studio, and a spinning room.
To bring more light into the upper level, the designers installed a wall of glass with horizontal bands of frosting between reception and the adjacent modeling agency, also the firm's design. "The agency and the Gym are separate," says Meyer, "but they talk to each other through that partition." Glossy white plastic laminate wraps the reception station, keeping the look clean and bright. Instead of the generic gym bulletin board, a kiosk lists classes electronically. In the juice bar beyond, orange vinyl adds verve to Shin and Tomoko Azumi's LEM Piston stools—one of many orange accents that energize the primarily white palette.
Demolishing the four offices yielded enough space for a Pilates studio, open to the corridor but defined by a series of saillike white spandex panels. Core-drilling the acid-washed cement floor enabled Meyer Davis to insert recessed light fixtures. On the windows, oval adhesive decals mask the dreary air-shaft view.
Outside the lockers, the lounge's 12-foot-wide mirrored wall reflects chairs by Verner Panton and Philippe Starck, vintage Tulip tables by Eero Saarinen, and a white vinyl-covered low-slung divan, a custom piece similar to the one in reception. Mahogany shelves hold general-interest and lifestyle magazines.
The locker rooms themselves remain essentially as-is. Meyer Davis retained the lockers faced in clear-finished oak, simply installing light boxes above. New touches include punchy orange-painted walls and white Corian for bench seats and towel shelves. ("Those towels should be stacked higher," Meyer notes on a return visit.) White ceramic tile replaced most of the green glass mosaics in the shower area; sinks received brushed-nickel fittings and a luminous backsplash of white structural glass.
On the lower level, Meyer Davis took advantage of the weight room's park views by building window seats: radiator covers of white plastic laminate topped by medium brown vinyl-covered cushions. The designers also wrapped structural columns in horizontal bands of white, off-white, taupe, and orange padded vinyl and removed low-hanging track lights to regain the 13-foot clearance.
Lower and upper levels are connected by a freestanding steel staircase. Risers are open, and balustrades are steel mesh, allowing for almost unobstructed appreciation of fellow members' toned physiques.