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A Fresh New Beat

By Jenn Danko

As the first LEED-certified nightclub in the United States, Manhattan’s Greenhouse pulses on a fresh vibe of eco-sensibility, sustainability and the “wow factor.”

On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, hip, urban party-goers at the Greenhouse nightclub have plenty to talk about as they sip cocktails and mingle to heavy bass beats. As the first LEED-certified nightclub in the United States, Greenhouse — a winner in IIDA’s 2009 Interior Design Competition — has commanded much aesthetic attention from the public and industry alike since opening in December 2008.

The club, designed by Antonio Di Oronzo, Principal of New York’s Blurach Architecture + Interiors, features 6,000 square feet of eco-friendly design and construction spanning two levels. Throughout the space, Di Oronzo marries sustainable elements such as LED lighting and bamboo flooring with glass crystals to create the stylized shine of a SoHo nightspot.

Greenhouse owner Jon Bakhshi had a clear vision for his third nightclub venture in New York: to create an eco-friendly space that would still provide a “wow factor” for his guests. The nature-inspired design achieves Bakhshi’s goal by bringing the outdoors in. “I think we accomplished just that with the lush greenery and real leaves that outline the club and the thousands of individually hung crystals that come down from the ceiling, at the same time emulating a rolling landscape and a summer rain,” Bakhshi says.

Di Oronzo further aimed to convey the dynamic richness of nature by outfitting the walls with six-inch round panels organized in a pattern generated through fractal algorithms, an expression of the mathematical equations that occur in nature. A third of the panels are lacquered in plywood, a third are covered in boxwood and a third upholstered with sustainable vinyl. “Instead of covering the walls with greenery with no apparent patterns, we emulated the way in which nature works,” Di Oronzo says. The result is a space that oozes an organic easiness — even if patrons aren’t consciously aware of it.

In the case of Greenhouse, Di Oronzo and Bakhshi both saw an opportunity to transcend the negative connotation of nightclubs by channeling the power of design. “When you go to a nightclub, it works best if it has something new to say every time you go there,” Di Oronzo says. He chose to convey the complexity, elegance and whimsical nature of the space through attention to detail and use of materials. The result is a unique club that playfully stimulates patrons from every angle of the venue. “The design of a space is about the experience, and that  experience relies on different systems, which include materials, aesthetics, color themes, 3-D design elements and the lighting,” Di Oronzo says. “Everything works together — that ultimately has to contribute to the performance of the venue.”

And at the end of the night, Bakhshi and Di Oronzo agree that if the nightclub’s interior creates an entertaining environment for guests to kick back and relax in, the design has achieved its goals. “‘Aesthetic’ is a term that tries to convey complexity, elegance and fun through design choices,” Di Oronzo says. “Ultimately, it’s about making people happy, and that comes through every aspect of this design.”

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