First they take Man­hat­tan...

Two Greek ar­chi­tects cre­ate the ‘Flat­iron Sky-Line’ in­stal­la­tion for fa­mous NYC square

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY TASSOULA EPTAKILI *

Few vis­i­tors to New York City can re­sist a snapshot of the em­blem­atic Flat­iron Build­ing, which has stood since 1902 on the cor­ner of 5th Av­enue and Broad­way at 23rd Street and was once the tallest build­ing in Man­hat­tan.

For the past few weeks, though, the Flat­iron has been deal­ing with some se­ri­ous photo-op com­pe­ti­tion from an im­pres­sive sculp­ture/in­stal­la­tion com­pris­ing 10 white steel arches twin­kling with LED lights and com­plete with ham­mocks that in­vite the pub­lic to stop, take a rest and soak in the tran­quil­lity of this small oa­sis in the bustling Flat­iron Plaza.

“Flat­iron Sky-Line” is the work of two Greek ar­chi­tects, Eleni Pe­taloti and Leonidas Tram­poukis, own­ers of the LOT ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign firm, which has of­fices in Thes­sa­loniki and New York.

“We and an­other eight Amer­i­can firms took part in the Flat­iron Pub­lic Plaza Hol­i­day De­sign Com­pe­ti­tion or­ga­nized by the Flat­iron/23rd Street Part­ner­ship Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict and Van Alen In­sti­tute, whose aim is to cre­ate a tem­po­rary land­mark in the heart of the dis­trict, a fo­cal point for hol­i­day events. And we came first,” says Tram­poukis, brim­ming with pride.

The ar­chi­tect has good rea­son to be pleased, as their cre­ation graces Man­hat­tan’s sec­ond most fa­mous plaza, be­hind Times Square. The 7 mil­lion views gar­nered by a video of the project on Time Out New York’s web­site is noth­ing to be sniffed at ei­ther.

What does this achieve­ment mean for the firm?

“That more and more new doors are open­ing to us. We al­ready have a pro­posal for a ho­tel and the of­fices of a ma­jor com­pany in New York,” says Tram­poukis. “Things in the US are not like in Greece. There’s a surge of work but also a lot of com­pe­ti­tion, es­pe­cially for young ar­chi­tects like us. Thank­fully, we have started be­ing able to con­vince clients that we can take on big projects.”

The hus­band-and-wife team first crossed the At­lantic in the early 2000s as grad­u­ates of Thes­sa­loniki’s Aris­to­tle Univer­sity pur­su­ing post­grad­u­ate stud­ies at Columbia. Their first pro- fes­sional steps in the US came right af­ter. Tram­poukis worked, among oth­ers, with SOM, the firm re­spon­si­ble for One World Trade Cen­ter – the em- blem­atic build­ing that re­placed the Twin Tow­ers af­ter the 9/11 ter­ror at­tacks – while Pe­taloti com­bined her love of art and ar­chi­tec­ture with a job at the Guggen­heim Foun­da­tion, later be­ing ap­pointed di­rec­tor at the Faou Foun­da­tion, founded by Ja­panese artist Mariko Mori, with a fo­cus on largescale sculp­tures and in­stal­la­tions.

The cou­ple hung out their shin­gle in 2012 and started de­vel­op­ing their own style. From ob­jects and in­stal­la­tions to in­te­ri­ors and en­tire build­ings, their work is now dis­tin­guished for its ele­gant min­i­mal­ism and its abil­ity to com­bine style with func­tion­al­ity. Their great­est recog­ni­tion came from de­sign bi­ble Wall­pa­per magazine, which ranked them among the world’s most promis­ing up-and­com­ing ar­chi­tects.

Mo­ti­vated and cre­ative, they have so far de­signed a loft in Brook­lyn, a pop-up restau­rant in Bel­gium, a mu­seum in Michi­gan, an exclusive beach club on the Greek hol­i­day is­land of My­conos, as well as the award-win­ning Cu­bic Hous­ing com­plex in Thermi in Thes­sa­loniki, among other projects. They submitted a pro­posal for a school in Fin­land and trans­formed an aban­doned build­ing from the 1950s into a mod­ern univer­sity dorm in Thes­sa­loniki. Their work has also ap­peared at in­ter­na­tional ex­pos and com­pe­ti­tions.

Their most re­cent project is the Nolita restau­rant at the Semi­ramis Ho­tel in the north­ern Athe­nian sub­urb of Ki­fis­sia, owned by con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tor Dakis Joan­nou.

The new year has found Pe­taloti and Tram­poukis split­ting their time be­tween Athens, Thes­sa­loniki and New York, dream­ing big and work­ing hard. “We’ve in­vested in an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer, but not once have we stopped be­liev­ing in our coun­try,” they say. “Things are not easy in Greece, but we refuse to live our life com­plain­ing and be­ing pes­simistic. We will keep fight­ing our bat­tles.” * This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in Kathimerini Sun­day sup­ple­ment, K magazine.

‘Flat­iron Sky-Line’ (below) is the work of two Greek ar­chi­tects, Eleni Pe­taloti and Leonidas Tram­poukis (above), own­ers of the LOT ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign firm.

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