David Briggs, AIA, LEED AP, Principal and Founding Partner of Loci Architecture shared his journey through four decades SoHo at the Initiative’s Fifth Annual Meeting. We caught up with David again to introduce him to our SoHo Broadway community readership.
Year of arrival on SoHo Broadway: 2004
Address: 594 Broadway, Suite 506
What brought you to SoHo Broadway? What do you do here?
In 2004, I was looking for new office space and a broker brought me to 594 Broadway; I clicked with the building (and Donna Vogel!). This was the first time that I would not be subletting office space, so taking space solely for Loci Architecture was a big deal. I signed a lease and have been here ever since, expanding into the adjacent suite in 2010. I had been in SoHo many times before, including working for a firm in the Singer Building—one of my favorite buildings in New York City—in the late 1980s. I’m an architect and enjoy working as one in SoHo. I started my practice in a one-bedroom apartment that I shared with my future wife and am proud of being able to grow a firm in one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the world.
What does your organization do and what industry are you in?
We’re an architecture and planning firm. Most of our work is for charter and private schools, residential and commercial development, work spaces, private residences, and community spaces. We were recently commissioned for a 4,000-square-foot gallery project in Chelsea. We’re a general practice firm—I like the diversity of our projects and clientele and it really helps us navigate the economy’s cyclical nature.
What do you like about SoHo Broadway?
I love the area’s buildings, character, and manufacturing history. A lot of the unique texture that drew me here has either disappeared or been burnished with new types of industry—flagship retail, high-end living spaces, and increased tourism.
It is easy for me to get to the surrounding neighborhoods which still have a rich and diverse character. It will always be important for SoHo to strike a balance between serving visitors and those who put roots down living and working in the neighborhood. I am curious to see how the 21st century economy will impact our historic community. I also see it as a fascinating opportunity to reimagine how the street life and public realm will adapt to new conditions.
What is your favorite SoHo Broadway memory or experience?
I worked in New York City during the summers while I studied architecture upstate, living up in Morningside Heights near Columbia University. One summer I paid $133 per month in rent, the next summer I paid $250. I would come downtown every weekend to see the performances in Washington Square and visit the galleries in SoHo. I grew up in the suburbs so it was a real supernova for me— everything was new and exciting, and even a little unsettling. All I could do was watch people and try to square it with my upbringing. It took a long time, but I eventually realized that the suburbs were the strange place and the city was my home. I remember going to stores like Canal Jean Co. to buy cool and very inexpensive clothes. I bought my first boxers in SoHo at Ad Hoc for $18. I even did the touristy thing and purchased a sweatshirt on West Broadway with SoHo’s “10012” ZIP Code printed on it in big block numbers and wore it back at college. My friends laughed, but I felt like it gave me some sort of SoHo citizenship and a much coveted imprimatur of coolness.
If you had 20 minutes, where would you go?
I’d walk west or east of Broadway, and then south. As one gets closer to Canal and away from the main corridor, there are still pockets of SoHo’s colorful past (and fewer tourists). It is a night-and-day contrast with Broadway. I like eating lunch on the cast iron steps in front of many of the old buildings. I also love going to the Mulberry Street Library on Jersey Street; it’s great to have one so close. Housing Works Bookstore Café is a marvelous space and a true SoHo institution. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had impromptu meetings/interviews there.
What should we know about you outside of working here? What do you do for fun or are you looking forward to doing?
I’m a community activist in Brooklyn and run a nonprofit called Gowanus by Design, focusing on urban design issues related to the Gowanus Canal Superfund site. I’m on Community Board 6 in Brooklyn and chair the Landmarks Committee. I am also a painter—I have a studio near where I live and participate in the annual Gowanus Open Studios.
SoHo is a gift to our city and I’m humbled to be part of its incredibly talented community. I look forward to creating and advocating on its behalf for many years.