For this episode, we welcome Matthias Hollwich, Founder and Partner of the architecture firm HWKN (“Hawk-in”). This episode takes a deep dive into 25 Kent, HWKN’s recently completed commercial building on the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn. Totaling 500,000 square feet, the development is divided among office, light manufacturing, and retail. It includes 1.8 acres of open space and, for grateful dog owners, a pop-up puppy spa and camp. The owners of the project are Heritage Equity Partners and Rubenstein Partners.
About Matthias Hollwich
Matthias started his firm in 1999 after working for the world-renowned architect, Rem Koolhaas. He knew before setting out on his own that he would need to take time to understand his individual design point of view instead of simply replicating the style he learned from Rem. He experimented with teaching at ETH in Zurich, founded an architectural tech company at the height of the dot com bubble, and traveled through Europe before moving to the US. Only then did he found his firm, HWKN.
Matthias describes HWKN as more than an architecture firm. It is “a collection of design, construction and communication specialists led by an architect and tech entrepreneur”. Particularly in the early days, Matthias knew that he didn’t want his work to be defined by one thing. Instead, he used experimentation to take on many different projects, clients, and theories. It was that same sense of curiosity that drew him to Toby Moskovitz of Heritage Equity Partners.
Finding the Right Development Partner
When Toby Moskovitz called Matthias about the opportunity to design a large project in Brooklyn, HWKN jumped at the chance. It was clear, however, that Toby wasn’t the typical development partner. Although she specialized in tech investment out of Israel, she wanted to make a name for herself in New York real estate. She had a vision to create a building that embodied the future of real estate while acknowledging the DNA of the location, in this case, Brooklyn. Together, Matthias and Toby walked the waterfront of Williamsburg, admiring the old warehouses that have come to define the neighborhood. It was the warehouse aesthetic that surfaced as the primary inspiration for 25 Kent after multiple design workshops were completed together.
Designing for the Future
The design of 25 Kent established more than an aesthetic, it created an intent for how the site should and would be used. By breaking away from the typical office dimensions, structure, and materials, Matthias was able to design a site that feels more like a campus where the ideals of collaboration, the collective, and cross-pollination could flourish. This shift in thinking about 25 Kent as an asset for the future means Mattihaus believes it will not suffer from criticism surrounding open office and coworking. He believes 25 Kent can adapt to the needs of workers now and long into the future. It can also easily accommodate uncommon tenants such as Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg. This flexibility will make it a site designers and developers admire and draw inspiration from for years to come.
About your host:
Atif Qadir is the Founder & CEO of REDIST, a technology company making it easy for commercial real estate professionals to find and use the $100B of real estate incentives given out every year in the US.
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