Let's get physical
Anne Guiney -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
When New York physical therapist James Fowler began to look for new space for his growing practice, he didn't interview design firms. He started by asking his patients. After five months of informal questioning, he chose Daryl Wugalter, a Brooklyn architect who'd been in treatment after a shoulder operation.
Wugalter explains that her design derives from Fowler's approach to physical therapy: "He showed me that posture begins with the way your foot hits the ground. Each successive joint and connection is affected by that. If there's stress in one area, your body will overcompensate in another." As Wugalter realized, the same holds true in architecture.
Following Fowler's directive to "stay as far away from 'medical' as possible," she stripped the 2,500-square-foot space down to its bones. She then placed three frosted-glass therapy enclosures opposite the windows, so sunlight can pass through. The enclosures are framed in economical bronze-painted wood, helping the project come in at $12 per square foot. During the evening, hammered-glass lanterns suspended from the ceiling cast a dappled light on the original oak studio floor, much of which remains open. That way, Fowler has plenty of room to work with clients on their stretching.
Left: At James Fowler Physical Therapy in New York, a model of a spine appears silhouetted in the frosted glass of a therapy enclosure. Framed in bronze-painted wood, the enclosures face the windows of the 2,500-square-foot space.