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Chic Commercial Interiors

Like home design, building design is constantly evolving. Every year, new building materials and trends find their way to the surface, making spaces more beautiful and functional.

But not all building trends are created equal. Numerous factors, including geographic region, climate and use, influence commercial designs. Whether you live on the east or west coast, you will find examples of all types of architecture and design in your backyard. But each coast does have its own signature style. From New York to Los Angeles, there are some chic design trends that are worth noting and adapting for use in your own neck of the woods.

East Coast

East Coast design immediately conjures images of stacked up spaces, plentiful storage and more traditional, historical designs. From steel and metal skyscraper designs, such as New York’s Chrysler Building, to more formal structures, like the ivy-coated walls of Harvard University, East Coast buildings often embody a strong presence and a more formal feel.

Because buildings on this side of the country are often multi-story, stackable units versus sprawling retreats, efficiency of space is key. Built-in shelving, versatile pieces and flush-mount design and décor elements save valuable square footage. This is especially true in the East Coast’s most famous city, New York.

Every year, more than 40 million tourists visit New York City. With a constant influx of tourists, hotels are built to maximize usable space as well as return-on-investment. Rockwell Group and Softroom Architects made the most of guest room space and experience when designing the recently-opened Yotel New York in Manhattan’s theater district. The smallest of the hotel’s guest rooms measure in at only 170 square feet, presenting a unique challenge: making the space into a stylish, functional environment without feeling too crowded. Space-saving features of the Yotel include combination media/shelving unit that hugs the wall, yet leaves ample storage space, built-in bathroom cubbies and racks and a queen-size bed that goes from full-size sleep mode to a space-saving sit mode with the push of a button. For guests that need to escape their small, functional space for some more wide-open living, the hotel also features a sprawling lobby which uses strong lines to create the illusion of even more space, as well as the city’s largest rooftop terrace.

East Coast designers have become quite adept at incorporating minimal outdoor space for the use of fresh air-seeking tenants and guests. The Cantor Roof Garden at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. Every summer, the dynamic terrace offers a new art installation, which mixes with the constant presence of the New York skyline and the reprieve of Central Park. Similarly, the buildings that make up Rockefeller Center maintain beautiful, spacious rooftop gardens that are reserved specifically for employee use. Located on top of the British Empire and Maison Francaise buildings, as well as on the setbacks of other Rockefeller Center structures, these gardens have bloomed for more than 75 years. Because of the gardens’ elaborate design, which includes vegetation mazes, stone, soil and fountains, Rockefeller Center’s roof is reinforced with extra steel, proving that planning a proper rooftop garden is no small feat.

West Coast

When you think of West Coast design, several ideas come to mind: modern, expansive, low-level buildings, breezy, open-air corridors and windows that put great land and seascapes front and center. The largest and most famous West Coast city, Los Angeles, embodies a more laid-back, sprawling feeling than its East Coast counterparts. Colors are inspired by earth and sky and spaces celebrate the landscape, rather than fight it.

Further up the California coast sits Cupertino, a small town that’s home to a big brand: Apple. West Coast design elements can be seen throughout the company’s plans for its new campus, scheduled to be completed in 2015. The ever-growing company has done its best to blend plans for 3.1 million square feet of office space into the natural beauty of the surrounding California landscape. Set on the company’s 176-acre campus, the modern, glass-heavy, ring-shaped Apple headquarters will be only four stories tall, and will offer sprawling views of the apricot orchard that once occupied much of the campus.

Beyond natural beauty, temperate climate and plentiful sunshine often play a role in West Coast design. Buildings embrace abundant natural light, using it for energy-producing solar panels, as well as mood-improving natural lighting. Innovations in glass design, including electronically tinted glass and even energy-transferring photovoltaic glass, continue to enter the market, helping designers maximize natural light while maintaining efficiency.

The trend toward achieving LEED® certification, as well as CALGreen, California’s green building standards code, has brought heightened awareness and support for sustainable initiatives on the West Coast. From water-saving faucets and flush valves, to energy-saving HVAC and lighting, buildings are doing everything they can to maximize LEED points.

The Seattle-based, LEED Platinum Terry Thomas office building was designed to provide a healthy and creative work environment that would illustrate the possibilities of sustainable design. The exterior of the building is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize daylighting. The building itself also encourages more efficient means of transportation, with access to a new streetcar line, abundant bike racks and even showers for employees who walk or bike to work. Adjacent retail and restaurant space leaves less need to travel, and more room to stay put and enjoy the sustainable building.

Regardless of which area of the country a particular building occupies, chic design is not out of reach. By playing into natural and man-made surroundings and maximizing resources to their full potential, with minimal environmental impact, the building team can create designs that are worthy of any region.