Muji – Hudson Yards

With divisions in design, timber framing, and woodworking, along with a sister company that specializes in reclaimed wood and timbers, collaboration is something that happens often at New Energy Works. Now and again there are projects that highlight when we’ve really had everyone involved, often realized at the close of the job where things have gone smoothly and everyone stands back with a beer to say, “hell yes.”

Muji at Hudson Yards in New York City is one of those projects of collaboration. Pioneer Millworks brought the project to us after working with Muji’s design team to get just the right reclaimed timbers for the store’s aesthetic.

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Cottage Life: High Craft, Low Impact

The owners of this timber frame lakeside retreat enjoyed the original lake farmhouse on the site for many years. When it became apparent that their beloved lake house had outlived its use, they made the bittersweet decision to deconstruct it in favor of a new home.

The land, the lake, and home’s impact there was a driving force in the design. Our design team started with respecting the local vernacular and maintaining existing trees and then included advanced enclosure and mechanical systems, FSC-certified® and reclaimed wood flooring and siding, roofing made of recycled wood fiber and rubber, and a geothermal heat system—all resulting in energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

In keeping with local vernacular, the road side facia of this cottage home is modest and welcoming.

From the road, the home is quaint and charming, modest in scale much like the neighboring cottages and the original home. The garage and parking area are accessible via a sloping drive, resting a level above the lake shore, neatly tucked away from the passerby on the lake road above while allowing a closer entry point to the home–especially appreciated after a grocery run. Entering from the road places one at an open sitting area and staircase. Sometimes referred to as an “upside down” design, this road level has guest bedrooms and bath as well as the master suite. A gently curving staircase funnels those entering at the street level downwards to the public shared spaces.

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It’s About the Journey. Stairs: furniture that flows.

Transitioning from public to private space, from one level to another, from inside to outside: the staircase. We enjoy the creativity that can be expressed in the functional and essential staircase. Stairs are like furniture that flows, curving, lifting, descending; solid, floating, short, or lengthy…and always dependable.

Our fine woodworkers and our designers think of stairs as sculptural and architectural elements. Often a focal point in the home the options for customization are many. Materials, shape, location, and integration with the frame.

The stairs play a large design element and integration with the frame in this NJ home.

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Functional Art: The Flat Track Door

Flat track doors, also known as barn doors, are a great way to add an industrial design element into a space. They’re space savers and a form of functional wall art. Jay, door guru, and Rob, general manager, of our fine woodworking division NEWwoodworks, gave us some insight into custom track doors:

Reclaimed hand hewn timber skins bring texture and character to a lower level rec room entry.

Reclaimed hand hewn timber skins bring texture and character to a lower level rec room entry.

Start with wood: “You can do a lot more with wood than you can with metal or fiberglass,” explained Jay. “There is so much more character and story in wood than any other material. Wooden doors fulfill our biophilic desire; they’re tactile, interactive, and functional.”

Flat tracks are top hung systems employing a top rail or mounted track above the door opening. A pair of hangers are assembled to the specific door (thickness, width, and weight of the door are all considered). A second bottom track/rail, subtle bottom guide fins, or cradle fins are employed to help maintain the door’s vertical alignment with the wall.

Get creative: “Yet,” added Rob, “There’s such a broad range of material and stylistic options: glass and metal accents…think Steampunk. Or think contemporary, colorful, slick, fancy, or classic. There’s clean oak, ash, and cypress…then there’s crazy wood like reclaimed ‘confetti’ gym flooring, Teak Colors of Indonesia, Shou Sugi Ban Color Char. The depth of possibilities is nearly limitless.”

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Challenge Accepted: Integrating technology and artisan craftsmanship.

Deep in our core there is a desire to continually learn and expand our capabilities so our clients receive the highest level of craftsmanship…always with obsessive attention to detail. Our fine woodworking group, NEWwoodworks, has some of the most woodcraft obsessed folks you’ll ever meet and they love a new challenge. Enter CNC technology. As this technology has evolved, the NEWwoodworks team has pushed the capabilities of their 3-axis CNC router to better meet their high expectations.

Stepping up NEWwoodworks already notable capabilities is “Thelma”, a Thermwood CNC MTR-30 5×10 3-axis router. Much of their work is done with reclaimed timbers and board stock so a raised z-axis to accommodates the larger timber stock, additional table reinforcement and stiffer axes to aid in cutting denser material and an upgraded vacuum table to make complex jigging and complicated hold-downs easier and faster are all incorporated into the CNC.

What does this integration mean? Some of the rough cutting work and sculpting work can be hogged out by the CNC, then finessed and finished by the artisan’s hand. It helps afford a level of speed and precision that while possible by hand, is difficult and time-consuming work. It can be the best way to get that fine detail after the rough-in, which really eliminates multiple shapings and sandings.

“The CNC allows us to be more productive, even with highly custom designs like our live edge cabinetry. It excels with, and really helps us on, the simple bulk work like plywood cab parts and solid wood parts and pieces, significantly reducing handling and touches,” shared Rob D’Alessandro, general manager of NEWwoodworks. “Complex joinery, carvings, curves, and even typical furniture parts can be created more quickly leaving our craftsmen free to focus their unique capabilities on details, fit, and finish.”

The stringers for this floating stair were cut using the CNC. Photo by Don Cochran Photography.

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