Keeping ahead of the curve
Cindy Coleman -- Interior Design, 10/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
As law offices increasingly trade in their three-piece suits and mahogany wall paneling for a contemporary aesthetic, Dutch firm Simmons & Simmons Trenité decided to adopt a more forward-thinking philosophy. The timing was just right—Simmons & Simmons had recently merged with Nolst Trenité—and the combined global practice enlisted Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects to renovate the main floor of the former Simmons &Simmons space, part of a prominent 1980's building in the center of Rotterdam. "This firm is all about using the legal system to enable innovation," says EEA principal Erick van Egeraat, who oversaw the 8,800-square-foot project.
The first phase involved relocating Simmons & Simmons Trenité's reception area from the building's lobby to the firm's own sixth-floor entry, where Van Egeraat would have greater freedom to express his client's individual style. Anyone stepping off the elevator on six is now immediately greeted by a custom reception desk of carved cast resin and wood. "It's an organic form, a contrast to the hard lines of the architecture," explains Van Egeraat. A piece of sculpture in its own right, the volume complements Simmons & Simmons Trenité's extensive collection of modern art. To brighten the reception area, EEA installed a high-gloss parquet floor inset with an oblong of limestone tile.
Beyond reception, parquet replaced carpet, and a series of private offices became Simmons & Simmons Trenité's new conference center, which encompasses a main conference room, eight smaller meeting rooms, two lounges, and a library. The architects increased reflectivity and sleekness in the corridors by lining one side with backlit glass panels and the other with polished Venetian plaster. Evenly distributed indirect light enhances the glow.
Some of the project's most important changes are heard rather than seen. For improved acoustics, EEA recessed the reception area and conference center's ceilings. The heavy double-glazed doors to the conference and meeting rooms close with a satisfying click, a sound that seems to guarantee the security and privacy necessary for closing the highest-powered of deals.