American Express Lobby, World Financial Center, New York, NY
The Moderns, New York, NY
Janine James (Principal in Charge)
The purpose of Rewarding Lives, featuring more than 80 portraits by Annie Lebowitz, was to bring an uplifting, memorable experience to the lobby of the newly re-opened American Express Headquarters in the World Financial Center, which was nearly destroyed on September 11. Part of the challenge was to fulfill the responsibility artists have after tragedy. Everything about this experiential brandscape is unique. The Moderns insisted on using honest, pure, simple materials throughout the space. Sterile marble walls were covered with phytoremediative English Ivy, selected by the staff biologist for its air-cleansing qualities. Sharp, linear angles created by the lobby's perimeter were softened through the use of undulating paths of smooth white river stones, gracefully curving tensile exhibit pod frames, natural organic shapes, and soft light wood flooring that ripples throughout the exhibit. Healthful, full-spectrum light was enhanced with chromotherapeutic color gels chosen by a staff physicist for optimal emotive effects. In addition, the commitment to eco-advanced design was relentless. The exhibit is designed for disassembly and includes a plan for effective re-use of component materials.
"In an attempt to provide models for inspiration and reflect on the positive aspect of life, the designers have created an exhibit which, in theme and execution, exceeds the objective. The combination of beautiful diaphanous forms acting as a soft and delicate backdrop to the photos is deftly done. The forms are engaging from a distance and reduce the scale of an immense corporate lobby to one that is intimate and graceful. All aspects of this exhibit are beautifully detailed, controlled, and elegant. The lighting deserves special mention in that it is used environmentally and also provides illumination for the photographic portraits. The change in flooring from the building marble to plywood adds an element of humility and visual contrast which contributes to the totality of this exhibit."