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This story first appeared in the May 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
One of the most striking details at CAA’s just-completed New York offices in the iconic Chrysler Building is the black terrazzo floors emblazoned with a giant gold starburst, a motif that recurs throughout the 75,000 square feet.
The motif is a fitting visual for an agency known for star power. The giant starburst, located near a see-through staircase that connects the offices’ three stories (floors 18 through 20), was created by CAA’s in-house design team and elegantly echoes the building’s art deco theme. What’s unusual is the middle of the star, which contains a simple dot, slightly off-center.
“It’s an eyeball,” explains L.A.-based agent Thao Nguyen, who, with head of facilities Bruce King and partners Bryan Lourd and Michael Rubel, spearheaded the three-year project. “We wanted to create a sense of movement. As you walk by, the eyeball moves with you.”
Movement abounds throughout the space, which houses 200-plus employees who moved in November from CAA’s previous location at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street. Take James Turrell‘s Pella (2008), which graces a wall in the 19th-floor lobby. The piece, on loan from a private collection, is a constantly morphing play of light.
While interplay between contemporary design and iconic architecture was key to creating the new atmosphere, achieving a modern sense of openness did not come easily in the 1930 building, which has notoriously narrow floor plans. Ceilings were opened to add volume, and glass office walls were utilized to let in natural daylight.
Gensler, the architectural firm behind CAA’s Century City offices, melded the historic with the modern. “[CAA had] a strong desire to create an identity that wasn’t derivative,” says Gensler principal Gene Watanabe. “We worked hard to achieve a fresh and unique character without mimicry or superficial art deco detailing. Close attention was paid to what related to the past and what was clearly new but still respectful of the landmark stature of the building.”
Adds agent Rick Marroquin, whose clients include Pitbull and Ricky Martin, “When you look at every single establishing shot of a movie set in New York, you always see this building. It’s amazing to work in a building so steeped in history.”
Mark Cheatham, who reps Justin Bieber and Jason Derulo, thinks the space has fostered a greater sense of camaraderie: “We are literally able to see each other more than we did in the old offices. Between these stairs and the glass offices, we are now almost forced to interact with each other.”
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