Gallery: INTERVIEW: We Talk to Massimo LoBuglio About Sustainable Build...

 
There are lots of ways to make green design enticing for people who are just being introduced to it, but we think we've found a method that takes the cake - the cupcake, that is. Situated on a trendy SoHo, NY street corner, the Little Cupcake Bakeshop is a beautifully renovated space that serves up a little taste of Americana with their sweet treats. Behind the nostalgic checkerboard floors, ceramic marble counter tops, wooden book shelves and pastel palette, many serious green considerations from energy saving technologies to recycled materials went into building the charming shoppe. We caught up with Little Cupcake Bakeshop partner Massimo LoBuglio to pick his brain about everything from the inspiration behind the store's design to how the original LCB (in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn) is able to save $20,000 (yes, $20 Gs!) just by being green.

Inhabitat: Your new SoHo location has some very cool green materials and features. Can you tell me about them?

ML: The build-out started with diverting demolition waste from the landfill to a recycling waste center, which saved an estimated 3.3 tons of carbon. Store build and design materials included FSC timber, Low E windows, lighting controls, recycled denim insulation, eco lights, Energy Star equipment, low-flow aerators, recycling and composting stations, and an 18-Sear HVAC unit. The store is also powered by Green E Solutions Wind Power. We use non-toxic cleaning solutions and biodegradable, corn-based utensils and packaging. Ultimately though, there are only so many light bulbs we can change. We can probably have more impact by educating people about the green economy.

Inhabitat: I love the “nuovo colonial” (as Bowery Boogie put it) look and feel of the space! What was the inspiration behind it?

ML: Our design process was part anthropological study. The design honored the history of the neighborhood, while looking to the future and incorporating green design elements. To start, we retrieved from official New York City archived images of the space 70 years ago. We also met with local elder statespeople, like the former store owner, which was a donut shop 60 years ago. These conversations gave us a deeper sense of the local spirit; kids playing in the street, bustling merchant activity on Mott Street, and a strong sense of community togetherness and transparency where “the doors were never locked.”

Inheriting a 100+ year-old cast iron column at the front of the store was like striking design gold before we planted the first shovel in the ground! The store front takes advantage of natural lighting, big (Low E) windows on Prince & Mott Street overlook the historic Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Manhattan’s only Basilica. Our kitchen is at ground level with huge windows allowing customers to see everything for themselves. We could we have built the kitchen in the lower level or at another location, off-site but it would have stripped the project of an important symbolic element and compromised taste. Inside the space, the décor celebrates classic American design, taking influence from architecture in colonial America. Checkerboard floors, ceramic marble counter tops, wooden book shelves and a soft palette give the place a warm and cozy feel. Decor features cultural artifacts, including first edition copies of Henry Thoreau’s Walden and Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring. My favorite item on display is a “Nixon for the Environment” campaign ad. Most people don’t realize he started the EPA; Silent Spring was a precursor. We’re very fortunate the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve even gotten inquires from local neighbors asking us to help them with design projects.

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3 Comments

  1. Joe Vecchio January 13, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for all the positive feedback on the design of the space. This was an incredible project to work on with the Little Cupcake team. I have to commend these guys for being truly committed to green design as well as carbon neutral. They maintained throughout the design build process the need for materials and systems to be in line with the highest environment standards while staying true to their brands esthetic.

  2. natalie.t December 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    The building looks fabulous! What great engineering!

    But I also have the same question as Analily. Is the food ‘as green as’ the building?

  3. Analily December 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Love the idea of a green building,in my opinion the engineer, architect and designer used most environmentally friendly resources cleverly. How “green” is the food? Is it organic, how long do ingredients travel to get there?
    Great job in the building.

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