A Workplace Project from Kostow Greenwood Architects

The main work area is designed to have breakout team areas adjacent to the open desks to support social and small group work interactions.
Extensive felt tackable wall facilitates group work processes and efficient exchange of information, brainstorming and decision-making.
The soffit houses recessed lighting and also delineates the ceiling plane within the exposed ceiling system.

The Shop East at VSP Global

8 West 40th Street
9th & 10th floors

5,450 usable square feet over 1.5 floors

Executive offices: 2
Management office: 1
Open workstations: 24 (22 on the 9th floor and 2 on the 10th floor)
Technology Areas: 3 (known as The Toaster, The Color Library, and The Rapid Prototype Machine Room)
Conference rooms: 3
Break room with pantry: 2


VSP Global has established a new home in The Shop East, an innovation lab that focuses on developing technologies for the physical and digital aspects of eyewear and eye care.  For their new Manhattan location, VSP Global tasked Kostow Greenwood Architects to create a workplace to meet the demands of a team of creative entrepreneurs – designers, technicians, and researchers – meant to push the boundaries of industrial design and alternative manufacturing as they revolutionize the eyewear industry.

The result of a technology design firm collaborating with an architectural design firm is an efficient, solution-oriented, visually appealing work environment that is also fun, flexible and casually comfortable.

The Shop East at VSP Global is a workplace designed to encourage creative disruption within an organized work environment. The intent is to maintain an open collaborative space, while simultaneously defining zones for different types of work for teams and individuals.

Three types of work environments in harmonious proximity – a casual grouping of chairs, an open workstation and a conference room with original wall art by artist Dave Weidetz.
An open spiral staircase with glass panel curved wall contributes to the open flow loft environment.
17 resin treads allow light to penetrate the spiral staircase, which connects the two floors.

Design Challenges

  • An unfinished interior with little natural light despite having windows on three sides. Anticipating that there will be even less natural light with the future completion of new construction blocking the western exposure.
  • Connecting two floors to allow easy circulation and communication between the executive offices and the work teams.
  • Creating a fun, flexible and open environment answering the diverse needs of technicians, fabricators, designers, executives and visiting clients.
  • A desire to have break-out work areas adjacent to the open office desks to support social and small group work interactions.
  • The collaborative collective consciousness of the work team produces a trail of ideas that need to be captured and easily displayed in a way conducive to their workflow.
Convertible conference room to ping pong table team room.
The overhead light for The Color Library, recessed in the soffit, can be customized to present “scene settings” to best understand how the product will look in context of daylight, retail light or stadium light.
The Color Library, a work area for independent and group work adjacent to the open desk area, includes visible and hidden storage as the soffit transitions to become a vertical cabinet.

Design Relevance

  • A playground space for creative, open work space that encourages collaborative working sessions and exchange of diverse viewpoints within the studio.
  • Specific areas are designed for group collaboration. Standing-height long narrow “tables” with writable surfaces are located between the workstations and are ideal for brain storming and sketch sessions.
  • The suspended soffit articulates the beautiful open loft space of the early 1900’s NYC commercial building. It visually defines the open work areas and the support spaces, terminating at the floor in two locations – as storage cabinetry in The Color Library and a drink station for one of the pantry areas.
  • The soffit houses the recessed lighting over The Color Library and work counter adjacent the spiral stairs. The soffit is also the boundary for the major mechanical equipment thus hiding the locations of supply air grilles/ductwork that feed the open workstations and keep the main space ceiling open. The soffit, along with the circular lights, delineate a ceiling plane within the exposed ceiling system and neither item extends above this line, making the underside of the structure above appear higher than it actually is.
  • Customized storage solutions. Since innovative product design is an evolutionary process, the cabinetry in The Color Library was designed to permit effortless storing and retrieving of eyeglass storage trays which contain countless design iterations.
  • Extensive felt tackable wall facilitates group work processes, efficient exchange of information, brainstorming and decision-making. The felt wall covering also provides some sound absorption to mitigate some of the acoustical challenges of creating an open space that supports creative work and collaboration.
  • Economic and sustainable results of having selected certain energy-efficient elements like LEDs.
The second level landing of the resin panel tread spiral staircase crowned with a Moooi Orb light is the entrance to a communal work area and executive offices.

Design Details

Ceiling circular light fixtures:

  • Manufacturer: Zaneen
  • Product Name: Glorious – Suspension
  • Model #s L3032103 (112”) and L3031303 (61”)
  • Color: Crystal White
  • Lamp: LED
  • Lamp life: 50,000 hours
  • Total number installed:
    • 9th Floor:
      • 61” diameter (5’-1”): 12 in total
      • 122” diameter (10’-2”): 8 in total
    • 10th Floor:
      • 61” diameter (5’-1”): 6 in total

Spiral Staircase:

  • Number of Treads: 17
    • The stairs treads are made of 3form resin panels that allow light to penetrate
  • Orb Light:
    • Manufacturer: Moooi
    • Product Name: Raimond
    • Model # R89 (89cm, 35” diameter or 2’-11”)
    • Lamp: LED
The pocket door window identifies “The Toaster” Technology Area, which houses the Rapid Prototype Machine Room.

Q&A with the Color Specialist about the Design of The Color Library:

  • How many pull out trays?

Depending how it is configured it can hold 56 large trays, or 112 small trays, or some mixture of the two sizes.

  • How many settings for the overhead light?

The countertop controller allows for four customizable scenes which are programmed from a computer where the lights to any color in spectrum can be altered. Each of the four settings can also be dimmed up or down from the countertop controller.

  • What are the different light settings and how do they differ? Why are different settings important?

The four preset scenes are: Daylight, Retail, Incandescent, and Stadium. Daylight and Retail are probably the two most used to understand how the product will look in context.

  • Briefly describe the types of work tasks performed in this area.

The color library area with the overhead color correct lighting was designed mainly for accurate color selection from color chips to final product.  The types of work tasks depend on the phase of a project. Tasks can range from pulling initial material samples to begin to “sketch” what direction a project might take, or presenting final samples for production.

  • How is this area designed to best allow you to perform the tasks, both individually and working with a team?

Having a dedicated space to physically arrange materials and products makes for a much more inclusive and collaborative process. We have had this before in the past, but always in a separate room and not integrated into the greater design area.  Ideally everyone, designers, technicians, and researchers, will use these area to brainstorm and develop new design.  This way of working relates directly to our mission that color is not the last step of the design process, but is an integrated part of the design process from beginning to end.

Design Team

Architect: Kostow Greenwood Architects

MEP/FP Engineer: Ensign Engineering

Structural Engineer: Hage Engineering

Contractor: JRM Construction Management

Expeditor: Walter T. Gorman Engineering

Metal Fabricator: Argosy Design

Furniture/Glass wall: Haworth/Meadows Office Interiors

Panel Vendor: Panelite

Artist, Wall Painting: Dave Weidetz

Credit for Photography: Studio Brooke