Helena 57 West Lobby

Combining our expertise in stack lamination and woodworking, we helped STUDIO V Architecture create a striking redesign of the entrance and lobby of Helena 57 West, a residential tower in Hell’s Kitchen.

Residents and visitors are greeted by a monumental wooden canopy which arches upward from a sculptural bench-like fixture located along the lobby’s far wall. Sweeping back across the ceiling, the canopy pierces the building envelope to form a portico over the entryway. A number of custom features are integrated throughout the canopy, including built-in overhead and accent lighting, structural column enclosures and steel toe kicks. The lobby’s twenty-foot-long reception desk runs parallel to the overhead form, sharing its materiality and curves.

Brought on board for fabrication and design engineering, our process began with several mockups that tested connection details, milling techniques and finishes. We developed a system of modules—75 in total—with CNC-milled finish surfaces and plywood substructures that were each uniquely fitted to the 882-square-foot structure. One of the challenges that our team overcame was how to achieve a consistent end grain pattern across the entire form. This subtle but defining detail helps maintain the project’s continuous appearance.

With sections of the canopy outside of the building and such high traffic inside the lobby, the design required specially-suited lumber. We recommended the use of Accoya, a type of acetylated pine that’s treated with a vinegar-like solution to increase its durability. Accoya is resistant to weathering and also highly sustainable (achieving a Cradle to Cradle Platinum certification), which was an important criteria not only for our team but for the building’s developer, The Durst Organization. To highlight this natural material and bring out the distinctive end grain, we used a simple oil finish on all 4,000 board feet.


The Durst Organization


STUDIO V Architecture


New York, NY




Raimund Koch, SITU