One Main Office Renovation | Offices Interiors | dECOi Architects

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Architects: dECOi Architects
Location: Cambridge, MA, USA
Area: 10000 ft²
Collection: Wood Interiors
Millwork Contractor: CWKeller, Shawn Keller
Consultants: Gensler, Helen Heitman, Pablo Garcia
General Contractor: Tricore, Paul Jacobson
Project Team: Mark Goulthorpe, Raphael Crespin, Gabriel Blue Cira, Matt Trimble, Priyanka Shah
MIT: Kaustuv de Biswas
Mathematics: Alex Scott
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Anton Grassl
City: Cambridge
Country: United States

The project was for the penthouse offices of an investment group in green building & clean energy technologies (CChange). The design was taken from our previous sculpture, In the Shadow of Ledoux, 1993, and Galerie Miran, 2003, proposed the milling of all elements of the interior from sustainably forested spruce plywood using numerical command machines Information: Makes a carves renewable carbon-absorbing resource.

The project essentially consists of two planes – floor and ceiling, both of which are expressed by function as continuous surfaces. The curvature expresses both the digital origin and the seamless fabrication logic, with the architect providing the actual machining files to the fabricator.As far as possible, the ethos was to replace typical industrial components (such as vents, door handles, etc.) with articulated milled timber, which offered a radically streamlined protocol for the delivery of highly crafted interior.

The intention was to offer a reduced carbon footprint, while celebrating both a new formal quality and a radical level of detail finesse. Effectively this allows the architect to completely customize all elements of the building, placing the materials in the space with full authorial control (for the first time since industrial components became standard).In addition to sprinklers, lights, glass and hinges, the substance of the interior architecture was realized through this unitary material/fabrication logic with a high degree of prefabrication.

The initial sketch design fully realized the potential for plastic control of acceptable spatial and detail definition in a CAD-CAM environment. The client asked that work chairs be purchased for liability reasons, but all shelves, desks, benches, storage units, etc. were accepted to be manufactured directly in plylum via the same method.Ultimately, we devised automated algorithms to generate the actual milling files, seamlessly from design to manufacture and with high tolerances and extremely low percentages of error.

The developed design was parametrically fine-tuned to commemorate the CNC machine’s indifference to formal complexity. The entire project was nested on 1200 4ft x 12ft plywood sheets, and milled using a small 3-axis CNC router, which easily carved the ply sections according to our prescribed ‘weeping’ tool paths. Well over a million linear foot cuts were issued, yet the machining process was essentially error free and highly accurate. Assembly proved relatively simple given the precision of the milling, and we enjoyed the grandeur of the emerging forms.

The project was fine-tuned down to the smallest details, such as the ventilation grille for the computer box being split to provide a handle to open the door; or milling of custom mathematical surfaces for each office; Even the door handles were carved as customized elements, Which proved to be cheaper than the stainless steel D-handle! We aimed for formal harmony at macro and micro scales, such as an inflection in the ceiling echoed in benches and carried to the sinuous lines of door handles.

Functional requirements such as ventilation grilles and shrouds for bright LED lights gave the ceiling a finesse of detail; Whereas focal elements such as conference tables or directors’ desks were formed plastically to allow electrical data outlets into the spine, and were mathematically decorated according to the standards of ‘stress’ and ‘ironicity’. Virtually, the physical substance of each space was fine-tuned during the construction period according to the character and mood of each client!


One Men uses Permanent One Finish Spruce Ply with a non-toxic water-based glue. The 10,000sq ft (1000m2) project is nested on 1200 sheets of 1.5” thick 4ft x 12ft ply, which are milled locally by a single 3-axis milling machine. dECOi provided the actual tooling path (over 1 million linear feet of cut), only 3D instructional files, without any plans or sections. The wastage was about 10%, pulped and recycled.

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