Apr 02, 2009 ellen leahy Uncategorized
King & King Architects slash ribbon on sustainable design office building in downtown Syracuse:
King & King Architects newly renovated $6,000,000 building is not just downtown, but rather on a tightrope between Downtown’s upscale entertainment district, Armory Square, and the Near West Side, a neighborhood that garnered first place as the poorest census tract in the United States in 2000.
“The near West Side is a great neighborhood with a lot of potential,” said Jim King, one of four partners at King & King, “we hope to be a catalyst to a very diverse neighborhood.”
The four partners and their team at King & King hosted a ribbon cutting Thursday, March 26. Honored guests included Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, retired King & King partners Bob Secor and Russell King, Darlene Kerr, president of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and Marilyn Higgins, Syracuse University’s vice president of Community Engagement and Economic Development, Scott Allyn from RedHouse a neighboring performing and visual art space and Ed Green of Green and Seifter, located at One Lincoln Center. The partners, Peter King (managing partner), David Johnson, Kirk Narburgh and Jim King (Peter’s older twin brother), also had a special guest, Carol Coletta, president, CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders dedicated to building and sustaining the next generation of great American cities.
Narburgh said the move took almost four years in planning including two years on selecting the site, before the firm relocated from Manlius into the new 52,000 square foot building at 358 West Jefferson Street on Jan. 12. It is expected to be completed in April with a grand opening in June. The move is projected to save $30,000 a year in commuting miles.
Jim King said they were 25 years in Manlius, where the firm transferred to from the 19th floor of MONY towers. The firm was downsizing a bit at that time, as the 1980s were a rough time in architecture. He said King & King had 18 employees at the time.
Why is this building and location so startling?
The building is intended to be a gateway for development on the Near West Side, which speaks to the firm’s principals of taking a leadership role in the coalition working toward a revival in that important and diverse neighborhood.
“We at King & King are excited to become part of the movement of those rededicating themselves to the revival of downtown Syracuse as a business hub,” said Peter King. “Our firm is proud to trace its roots back to 1868 and to have had a hand in shaping the skyline of Syracuse with the many landmark buildings we have designed. This new site is the next step in continuing our tradition of leadership in design practices that will positively affect the community.”
King & King’s founder was the architect, Archimedes Russell. Melvin King, Peter and Jim’s great grandfather became one of Russell’s partners. The firm has literally changed the Syracuse and Central New York skyline throughout the course of its 140-year history. Its masterpieces include the National Grid (former NIMO) building, the Onondaga County Courthouse, Crouse College, Bird Library, Manley Field House, the Carmello Anthony Basketball Practice Facility (under construction), Onondaga Community College Gordon Student Center renovations, the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce building and more. The firm is also the local architect for the Golisano Children’s Hospital attached to Upstate and the architects of SUNY-ESF Sustainable Campus Master Plan among many others having to do with schools K through 12 and beyond to higher education, health care facilities and it is fast becoming the designers of choice for community organizations interested in sustainable design, which this new building represents gloriously with its clean lines, many views, high tech and old world design hanging together.
Peter King said presently his favorite building designed by King & King, is their new headquarters that sits on Jefferson Street between the Onondaga Creek border of Armory Square and West Street. Jim King said it was once the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company, which back in 1913 started with threshing machines, and then, moved into tractors until around 1959. This explains the heavy timber construction, which is fashioned more like a barn than an industrial building. The space was eventually taken over by the company, Dupli Graphic, and finally purchased by its neighbor Hanford Pharmaceuticals, who sold it to King.
This building walks Syracuse “Green” talk.
The building being a reuse of an existing structure helped to cut down on energy used to produce and transport new materials. And, construction waste was reduced by 75 percent because materials were recycled and reused.
Many energy costs have been cut in half in this updated structure including water and electricity, which is given a boost by the addition of solar panels and wind energy.
The building’s cooling systems uses refrigerants that will not deplete the ozone layer; while the roof is made of materials that help reduce the amount of heat around the building during the summer.
More than 50 percent of the new wood in the building is from sustainably managed forests, while the desks and countertops are made with wheat-board cores (a fast growing agricultural waste product).
There are indoor bike racks and shower and changing rooms so people can commute on bike. And, 95 percent of the working space has natural light.
Truly the list goes on and will continue to as technologies emerge.
Peter King said perhaps one of their consultants said it best, when after a two hour meeting in the firm’s red conference room overlooking West Street, he noted that it was very peaceful, and that he didn’t want to leave.
Creating that feeling was intentional Peter said. One’s work environment really helps outlook and performance. He noted that when it is all said and done, King & King’s people are their biggest asset.
King in the community, too
The firm strives to be an employer of choice, offering personal development accounts (money allotted annually for personal/professional development), flexible hours, volunteer time off and telecommuting. It is a two-time winner of the Society for Human Resources Profession’s Employer of Choice Award.
One of the firm’s architects Fouad Hussein spoke of King’s commitment to community involvement. He said the staff is encouraged and supported financially to get involved and take a role in Syracuse. Oddly enough, he came to SU and fell in love with Syracuse’s weather. But also, he said, Syracuse is a city small enough that you can become involved and you can make a difference from holding a position on a board, to gathering up a group of friends to go clean up some litter in a city park.
In 2007, the firm’s employees volunteered more than 3,500 hours in the community and the firm itself donated more than $60,000 to community organizations. The firm also hosts an annual charity golf classic that this year raised $7,000 for Vera Hose. And just this past Friday, 18 of the firm’s male associates slipped on high heels and walked in Vera House’s Walk a Mile in her shoes – to raise awareness toward violence against women.
Peter King said they regularly check back in with the firm’s core values, which have remained constant in all these years: teamwork, innovation, people, integrity, winning – and perhaps one of their most honed skills starts with communication and especially listening, and then the design work begins.
Come visit the palace
Architecture is the merging of art and technology, Dave Johnson said, and this building speaks to this concept well. This building is intended to be a demonstration model, giving the public access to sustainable design in practice. Tours can be scheduled by anyone interested in learning more about sustainability, especially student groups, businesses and community organizations.
In 2008 the firm received the Central New York American Institute of Architecture’s Design Award for the third consecutive year and the Professional Services Management Journal Circle of Excellence Award – recognizing the country’s 46 top performing firms based on financial benchmarks related to overall operational success. This year the firm was designated as the Onondaga Historical Society’s Glorious Workplace.
If this all sounds to good to be true, it’s not, instead here is a long standing, talented group of purposeful individuals who are working hard to make Syracuse, the heart of Central New York, a better place to work and live.
This firm’s new home is certainly fit for a couple of Kings.