Last month, the privately held insurance brokerage and risk management firm DeWitt Stern Group, Inc. earned a LEED Gold rating under Commercial Interiors for the redesign of its corporate headquarters space at the Graybar Building. Led by interiors firm MKDA, DeWitt Stern combined separate suites and negotiated various tenant locations to renew and expand its lease for a total of 37,000 square feet on the 26th and 27th floors.
DeWitt Stern’s design charge to MKDA was a modern, Scandinavian-inspired design, which the firm accommodated with an interior wood, glass, and metal staircase, blue stone, back-painted glass, and walnut finishes, which are are replete throughout the space. Special use areas like the large boardroom and the company’s multipurpose lounge were also outfitted with specialized design elements, including banquet seating, stone top serving areas, and glass wall systems with large, expansive sliding doors.
In addition to upgrades to the technologic, electrical and mechanical infrastructures, MKDA also specified pre- and post-consumer recycled content, low-VOC carpet tiles and paints, as well as lighting systems that reduce power density to 35% below code. And a substantial amount of existing materials were diverted from area landfills.
“The challenge of this redesign was to bring the office environment of this third-generation, family-owned business into the twenty-first century, which required an in-occupancy multi-phased renovation,” said MKDA Director of Design Daniel DeSiena. DeWitt Stern’s existing space was outdated and dimly lit. Natural light now penetrates into open work spaces while the firm’s corporate color (persimmon orange) was incorporated into the office and signage package to emphasize its corporate identity and brand.
Located above Grand Central Station at 420 Lexington Avenue and owned by SL Green, the 30-story Graybar Building is named for Graybar Electric – one of its original tenants – and was once the largest office building in the world. The 1.3 million-square-foot tower dates from 1928 and was originally designed by architects Sloan & Robertson. After acquiring the property in 1998, SL Green upgraded the lobby, entrances, facade, and retail storefronts. And in 2011, SL Green earned an Energy Star award for the Graybar Building, with a score of 87.
In addition to DeWitt Stern, other major tenants currently include SL Green, Bank Leumi USA, Metro-North, and New York Life.