Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 5/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Ever wonder where some of those TV reality shows are dreamed up? How about at a site that's refreshingly green as well as efficient and intelligent? That's what Authentic Entertainment—an independent production company that does work for the Food Network and Bravo—would get in hiring Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, which had designed the much lauded Los Angeles house of Authentic executive producer Lauren Lexton years earlier. This time, the project involved renovating a 1950's jewelry factory in Burbank. The frankly playful environment that Flipping Out and Ace of Cakes now come from is light-years removed from what Lorcan O'Herlihy calls the "dark and unpleasant place" this once was.
Just for starters, O'Herlihy took the 15,000-square-foot concrete-block building down to its studs and added eight skylights to the existing three. That gave Authentic a healthy dose of daylight, pushing O'Herlihy to his next move: He concentrated simple workstations in the center, the sunniest area, and placed the 20 editing bays, which require darkness, along the rear wall. Basic layout established, he knew that one big gesture was needed to up his game. "What could I do in the tight limits of $45 per square foot?" the architect wondered. "I could take the ordinary and make it unique." That's where his colorful slatted screens came into play.
"They're the skeleton structures that drove the design," he notes. Nothing more than two-by-fours painted bold colors, these elements give form and a degree of function to the central zone. A pair of full-height cobalt blue slats back the reception desk, incorporating storage boxes and creating an entry that's semi-shielded from the work zone beyond. In the middle of the workstations' unpainted MDF and drywall, shoulder-height chartreuse slats fence in a lounge stocked with beanbag chairs for sprawling. A similar chartreuse-fenced lounge near the kitchen is furnished with tables and chairs. Another full-height slat wall, this one tangerine, affords a layer of privacy to the block of offices occupied by the show supervisors who oversee the Authentic staff, numbering approximately 100.
The supersaturated colors might be glaring in less skilled hands, but O'Herlihy, an accomplished artist, mixed up just the right tonal values to complement one another. "Anyone can choose two or three colors," he says. "The trick is having them work well together."
Then there's the use of green. O'Herlihy automatically approaches all projects with eco-sensitivity, though he doesn't necessarily adhere to a strict checklist. Here, the orange rubber flooring is made from recycled tires, and the fluorescent fixtures are on dimmers. The office of the executive producer is also chock-full of vintage furniture. Since Authentic has no outdoor space, O'Herlihy—who hails from leafy Dublin—provided some of the real thing inside in the form of ficus trees. "The trees absorb carbon dioxide to help purify the air, adding to a healthy environment," he explains. Each ficus has its own little square plot, dug out amid the landscape of workstations.
firm: lorcan o'herlihy architects site: burbank, california
Clockwise from top left: The fenced-in lounge near the kitchen is raised 2 feet. Signage is brushed aluminum. Ficus trees grow behind workstations custom-built from MDF and drywall. The building dates to the 1950's.
From top: Rubber flooring, made from recycled tires, flows past the 12-foot-tall slats screening four of the show supervisors' offices. A 1960's sofa and a Milo Baughman desk furnish the office of the executive producer. At the back of the building are the 20 editing bays.
FROM FRONT THROUGH EARTH FRIENDLY GOODS: BEANBAGS (LOUNGE). IKEA: TABLES, CHAIRS (KITCHEN), PENDANT FIXTURES. OFFICE STAR: TASK CHAIRS (OFFICE AREA). CRATE AND BARREL: FILE CABINETS. THROUGH FUTURAMA: SOFA (OFFICE). HUMANSCALE: TASK CHAIR. KARTELL: GUEST CHAIRS. MARIMEKKO: PANEL FABRIC. THROUGHOUT ECORE INTERNATIONAL: FLOORING. FRAZEE PAINT: PAINT. A.R.K. RAMOS SIGNAGE SYSTEMS: CUSTOM SIGNAGE. FRANCESCHI ENGINEERING: STRUCTURAL ENGINEER. DE-BIBI & ASSOCIATES: MEP. SPACE CONSTRUCTION: GENERAL CONTRACTOR.