GrowNYC’s Project Farmhouse

Food and Sustainability Education/Community Space, Union Square, Manhattan, New York

ADG Photography

GrowNYC, New York City’s longest-running sustainability focused Non-Profit, hired us to design  a space that would bring GrowNYC’s far-reaching programs under one roof.  GrowNYC runs 96 farmers  markets, dozens of recycling resource locations, has built hundreds of community gardens, and the educates over 30,000 children each year on meaningful interactions with the natural environment.  Our design for Farmhouse was steered by GrowNYC’s need for a transformative space to match their multi- directional mission.


Educational Hydroponic Wall

What was once an unused space riddled with exposed infrastructure has been reimagined as a multifunctional community space, complete with a classroom, open forum, educational kitchen, vertical hydroponic growing wall, and conference center.

The existing space presented a number of design issues.  The space was long, narrow, dark, incoherent angle changes, and had a high, echoey ceiling that could not be covered with drop ceiling (the hotel above’s infrastructure needs frequent access).

As a single design solution to these issues we devised a ceiling scheme of suspended acoustic baffles made from recycled water bottles to address the spatial challenges and creating a sense of unity throughout the environment. The angle of one half of the baffles align with the geometry of the back portion of the existing space; the other half align with the front. These two angles interlock and form the shape of the Gabled Farmhouse logo, which runs like an extrusion from the front of the space at the entry to the conference center’s feature wall of reservoir- salvaged wood. This feature wall is illuminated with sunlight brought in from an adjacent roof using reflective solar-tubes

An existing mechanical shaft in the center of the room presented a bottleneck in crafting spatial cohesion. We chose to make this a point of interest and transformed the “dead space” into a mirrored jewel box for the space’s central feature, an educational vertical hydroponic wall. The educational kitchen, donated by Boffi, was tucked below an existing firestair to demonstrate cooking farm fresh food from GrowNYC’s adjacent Union Square Market.

Zoe Weatherall Photography

Boffi Demonstration KitchenFarmhouse as educational venue, ADG Photography

Demonstration Kitchen Closed/Open, ADG Photography


Farmhouse as fundraising venue, ADG Photography

Unisex bathrooms

Although the raw space prior to renovation was idiosyncratic, this project was conceptualized to physically unite all of GrowNYC’s programs.  In the same spirit, each discreet physical space was designed to function both as a single educational space, a fundraising venue, or be split into individual program elements.  Large swing out panels all the main hall to be separated into various break-out spaces, allowing many activities to take place simultaneously.


Client: GrowNYC/Union Square Hyatt Hotel
Location: Manhattan, New York
Program: Non-Profit Educational Venue
Area: 3,400 sf
Status: Completed 2016