Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

Rick Cook on the need for sustainability, wellness and resiliency in design

You might as well look at three billion years of evolution to see how problems are solved instead of thinking we're going to do it in the next three days.
– Rick Cook

Since being established in 2003, COOKFOX Architects have gained a reputation for being proponents of architecture at the intersection of sustainability and wellness, which co-founder Rick Cook says is more pressing now than ever.

"Our current studio is LEED Platinum, but it's also the first WELL Gold certified project in New York," he explained to CLAD in an interview by way of example. "Which has much more of a focus on human health and wellness and ways that we can achieve those. And, go figure, they're now topics that we're all going to be focussed on moving forward."

Future wellness

Cook was talking from his home overlooking the Hudson River, social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and suggested that the current situation would draw wellness in architecture into sharp focus.

"We're all going to be very interested in our health – and there are technologies that are showing some promise for how we can continue to provide healthy environments when we gather together – but a big blanket statement for COOKFOX is that we like to go back to nature under the theory of biomimicry. You might as well look at three billion years of evolution to see how problems are solved instead of thinking we're going to do it in the next three days."

Sustainable beginnings

Needless to say, this is a far cry from when he and Bob Fox set up the firm with a simple desire to pursue beautiful, innovative and sustainable design.

The firm's mission to "create environmentally responsible, holistic and biophilic architecture that fosters occupant wellbeing and a healthy urban landscape" is now particularly pertinent, but Cook explains that he rather stumbled upon the concept of sustainability through his work in the late nineties designing the Ross Institute Center for Well-Being, which educates students to become effective global citizens

"The thought at the time we did the Centre for Well-Being was that the world of architectural design had been really obsessed with the visual," he explained. "The way we conveyed the art of architecture was through pictures in magazines, but the way you experience architecture is with all of your senses."

"Around that time, the US Green Building Council and the LEED rating system were founded and they were really focussed on energy and carbon. We had a global perspective, but it was really focussed on energy.

"So, when we all started making buildings that we tried to ensure were better for the planet, it was really about energy, technology and how we could reduce the carbon footprint. But what we stumbled on was that when we made buildings better for the planet, we could make buildings better for people."

Benefits to business

COOKFOX recognised that the energy costs for a typical company in the US was a tiny fraction of the cost of running the business, whereas its people could account for anywhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of that cost.

"If you could increase productivity, you could more than pay for the stuff that we were interested in. Radically cutting the energy – where the cost for a company is 1 per cent – that's nothing. But if you can impact productivity by 1 per cent, you can have a huge economic impact," explained Cook.

With that in mind, the firm started pitching in terms of human health, wellness and wellbeing, but it was the output of these that captured the attention of prospective clients.

"The funny thing is that it wasn't so much that people really cared that much about people's health as much as we'd like at the time," Cook said. "It was that there was a lot of competition for the best talent, which there still is today, so we started to talk in terms of recruitment and retention – and when you talk about recruitment and retention of talent, people really listen."

Varied projects

Today, COOKFOX's work ranges in scope from small "jewel" projects and single-family homes to complex urban transformations and large institutional and commercial spaces. All, however, are built on the firm's underlying principles.

Its 150 Charles Street residential development in New York, for example, saw the adaptive reuse of a massive abandoned warehouse made of concrete, brick and glass. The firm sought to integrate the development with the natural and historic environment of the West Village and, as a result, it features biophilic elements throughout, as well as over 30,000sq ft (2,800sq m) of landscaped space, including green rooftops, planted terraces and courtyards.

The mixed-use 550 Vanderbilt development in Brooklyn was designed to integrate nature for the health and wellbeing of its residents, with natural materials like wood and stone used to create an inviting, tactile experience that transitions residents from the street to their homes.

And One South First/10 Grand, a residential, commercial and retail development in a converted sugar refinery also in Brooklyn, not only features a gym, a café and common areas for its occupants, but also a roof garden with greenery and outdoor recreation space.

An evolving vision

As these projects show, COOKFOX remains true to its original vision, but that vision has been – and continues to be – distilled and refined over time, not least recently during a project for Oxford Properties, of which Google is now a tenant.

"When we did the research for the new Google headquarters, there were three overlapping things that came up over and over again about the workplace of the future," said Cook. "One was wellness, another was authenticity and the third one was flexibility, which you can substitute for resiliency."

"We talk about resiliency from natural disasters, in environmentally responsible work and, now, we're all going to be confronted with resiliency in the way we work."

This idea of resiliency is a more macro concept for providing insulation against many individual threats as whole – be they from the climate, to health, against economic upheaval or anything else – and Cook sees it being the next major trend in architecture and beyond.

interview  COOKFOX Architects  sustainability  wellness  resiliency 
Since being established in 2003, COOKFOX Architects have gained a reputation for being proponents of architecture at the intersection of sustainability and wellness, which co-founder Rick Cook says is more pressing now than ever. "Our current studio is LEED Platinum, but it's also the first WELL Gold certified project in New York," he explained to CLAD in an interview by way of example. "Which has much more of a focus
ARC,DES,CLD
COOKFOX's work ranges from small
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7676     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7676     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Unrelenting drive to be the best at what we do underpins activity throughout our vertically integrated business life cycle.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Last word: Tina Norden
Tina Norden
"We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional"

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on playing with colour at Prague’s newly redesigned Hotel Maximilian

Landscape design: Back to nature
Alan Metcalfe
"When people are a bit scared, they gather together"

Featuring a vibrating glass platform and one of the US’s longest tree canopy walks, Whiting Forest has been designed to bring visitors closer to nature and to one another

Francis graduated as a landscape architect in Belgium. He returned to Lebanon in 1993
"I believe gardens are where the soul rests"

With a focus on desert landscapes and collaborations with Zaha Hadid and OMA, the principal of Francis Landscapes has a deep belief in the power of nature

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The hotel features two restaurants and two bars, including the Julep Herbal & Vermouth Bar
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

Manuelle Gautrand
"The cities where you have good cultural buildings and facilities – it’s a way for people to mix, to share the city in a much deeper way"

The French architect and winner of the 2017 European Prize for Architecture tells us why she is determined to surprise

CF Møller’s Storkeengen climate adaption project will see the creation of a new public nature park
"Funding woes and murky timelines are common problems. It can be easier to make a difference one small project at a time"

From parks designed to mitigate the effects of flooding to warming huts for one of the world’s coldest cities, these projects have been designed for increasingly extreme climates

The hotel has just two floors above ground; the other 16 floors are below
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

The award-winning mixed use Santana Row project in San Jose, California
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
cladkit product news
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
cladkit product news
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates
x
Email this to a friend or colleague
I am happy for Leisure Media to contact me occasionally by email and understand that I can opt out at any time.
Rick Cook on the need for sustainability, wellness and resiliency in design
Since being established in 2003, COOKFOX Architects have gained a reputation for being proponents of architecture at the intersection of sustainability and wellness, which co-founder Rick Cook says is more pressing now than ever.
Technogym
Technogym