Space of the Week: Family Business

Recently I stopped by the Harlem offices of Cheryl McKissack, the civil engineer and CEO of design-and-construction firm McKissack & McKissack. On arrival, I encountered this magnificent vertical living wall designed and installed by Blondie’s Treehouse, Inc., under the guidance of the interior designer Debra Duneier of EcoChi, who worked with McKissack to conceptualize both this office and the company’s midtown outpost on Sixth Avenue. Photo: Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack

This verdant retreat lies behind the ocean waves of the elevator foyer. As I took a seat, I was surprised as the seat started swinging. This is not what you expect in the offices of one of the most important construction companies in the country. This space is used for alfresco meetings when people want to get away from their desks. It certainly is a mood changer. Photo: Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack

The conference room in the Sixth Avenue offices continues the green theme with enlarged photographs of leaves by Amanda Weil. McKissack & McKissack, the oldest minority-owned professional design-and-construction firm in the country, was incorporated by Moses McKissack III and his brother, Calvin, in 1905. The original founding father of the company, Moses McKissack I, was a slave who learned brickmaking from his master, a Scotsman named William McKissack who had a plantation in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Moses starting his own business while still a slave in 1820, growing what would become a historic business model. Photo: Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack

Cheryl McKissack’s Sixth Avenue corner office is furnished with a large desk as well as an Eames lounge chair and ottoman. The adjacent meeting room has a photograph of a tree by Amanda Weil: “It’s grounding,” Cheryl says of her surroundings. Photo: Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack

Family portraits in the conference room include this hand-tinted photograph of the founding father of the company, Moses, and his wife, presumably at the time he started the family business in the early nineteenth century. Photo: Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack

A painting of Gabriel McKissack, Moses I’s son, and his wife also graces the conference room. The company has offices across the country and has worked on projects like the Henry J. Carter Hospital, Barclays Arena/Atlantic Yards Redevelopment, Columbia University Manhattanville Expansion, and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Photo: Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack

Space of the Week: Family Business