Connect and Create.
That about sums it up. Several months ago, Brandon Sampson and Marty Frana connected with 9.SQUARE to discuss how to fit-out an old building in downtown Rochester for their prosthetic and orthotics company called Limb Lab. We hit it off and loved the concept for their business: breaking down the stigma associated with losing a limb and empowering people to take that first step toward recovery. Jeff Kiger recently revealed the closely held secret in the Post Bulletin and construction is well underway for this innovative start-up.
Once they settled on a building (which was no small feat) 9.SQUARE set about designing a space that gives them future flexibility for seeing patients and expanding their practice, yet leaves room for evolution. They found a beautiful--while unconventional--space on the ground floor of the Riverside Building on the corner of 4th Street SE and Broadway. The space was originally a retail business which had utilized the large plate glass windows for product displays. This didn't phase Limb Lab as they wanted to place their lab space prominently on the highly visible corner in order to show off the construction and fabrication of custom prostheses.
In fact, across the entire Broadway facade display windows they wanted the look and feel of a department store with glossy white mannequins in the window, each sporting a custom prosthesis. Indeed their presence will be felt to the cars stopped at the traffic light and to pedestrians passing by.
From a design perspective, the company offered us a chance to translate the fundamental approach of their craft into architectural decisions and statements. For us the concept of connecting two materials--the organic and the synthetic--was extremely stimulating and provided a footing to make design decisions throughout their space. The more the space was deconstructed, the more beautiful and challenging surprises we found. Truly this was an awesome opportunity to remove and update decades of cobbled together construction and to expose major construction alterations to this historic building. Furthermore, finding raw steel beams with bolted connections to reinforced concrete columns extended the "connection" metaphor to its desired end. Some things you just can't plan.
The final plan is a combination of both 1) a high profile, transparent, dynamic entry/waiting room that highlights their products and people, and 2) private, flexible patient rooms that offer a chance to take that difficult first step.
Be sure to check back on the 9.SQUARE blog as we will post construction photos, material studies, and the latest news for Limb Lab. For now, keep your eye out for new awnings and signage coming soon to the 4th and Broadway corner with the help of the RDA Facade Improvement Grant. You can also follow the Limb Lab on Facebook for updates.