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Cover Story - December 2006

Best of 2006 Awards

Le Cirque Restaurant

AWARD OF MERIT: Interior Fit-Out


The $14 million project to transform raw space within the 731 Lexington Avenue tower into the new home for Le Cirque restaurant in Manhattan left the Best of 2006 jury hungry for more. “It’s absolutely gorgeous,” said one judge.

The project transformed 16,000 sq. ft. within the $630 million, 53-story mixed-use tower, which opened last year and serves as the headquarters for Bloomberg, the financial services company.

The fit-out to recreate the circus-themed restaurant, which had previously been at 455 Madison Ave., started in October 2005, and the restaurant’s grand reopening was held in May. A strict opening deadline required work to proceed on a fast-track schedule, particularly in the last four weeks, when workers were onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The restaurant has a main dining room and private dining area, as well as a two-story steel and glass wine tower that rises 27 ft. and has an interior ladder so the sommelier can reach the top-shelf wines. Specialty metal and glass consultants created the wine tower, which features a climate- control system separate from the rest of the dining space.

The main dining area has two-story-high windows; high-gloss Macassar Ebony woodwork; plush, custom carpeting with a monkey pattern; and a huge metal “monkey cage.” Wrapped around many of these features is a massive, C-shaped, 12-ft.-tall “lampshade” that evokes the sensation of being under a giant circus tent.

The private dining room is located on a mezzanine level, accessible from the main entrance by stairs or by a new elevator that that project team installed.

The project included the fit-out of a 20- chef-capacity kitchen that features handmade ranges and ovens from France. The kitchen also features a center table where the chef and restaurant owners can entertain guests.

Some design elements of the restaurant required expert installation, such as the individually hand-laid tiles of marble, mother of pearl, and onyx, which make up checkerboard flooring in the restrooms.

In addition, the team had to install intricate black iron ductwork in the kitchen to remove smoke and grease. The ductwork is connected to large precipitators that the project team installed with cranes on the building’s ninth floor.

The entire project, and in particular the precipitator and wine tower installation, required extensive coordination with mechanical and electrical consultants who planned the 731 Lexington tower so that the restaurant would be completely operational by the time it opened.

“I hope they invite us all there for lunch,” one judge said.

Key Players

Owner: Maccioni Family

Owner’s Representative: JW Finnerty Consulting

Construction Manager: Structure Tone

Architect: Costas Kondylis & Partners; Kondylis Design

Structural Engineer: WSP Cantor Seinuk

M-E-P Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles

Interior Designer: Tihany Design

Lighting: Focus Lighting

Vertical Transport: Van Deusen Associates

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