Apella & Riverpark: Exclusive First Look at a Mod Meeting Space (Plus Tom Colicchio's Latest)

By Anna Sekula October 18, 2010, 4:10 PM EDT

Photo: David Hechler

On the far east side of Murray Hill is Apella, a modern new meeting spot. Inside the new Alexandria Center for Life Science—a campus for biotechnology firms, science research labs, and pharmaceutical companies—the East River-adjacent venue was designed by architectural firm Bentel & Bentel to match its sleek surroundings. Operated by Arthur Backal of State of the Art Enterprises and Backal Hospitality Group, Apella offers 16,000 square feet of flexible space for corporate and social functions.

Riverpark, a new restaurant chef Tom Colicchio opened with 'Wichcraft partner Sisha Ortuzar, occupies the floor below and is Apella's exclusive catering partner.

Apella, which will host a grand opening on October 26, is divided into 10 rooms, which can be further broken down into smaller, more intimate setups. The largest of these, dubbed Apella 200, measures 2,480 square feet and seats 250 theater-style or holds 300 for receptions. When split in two, one section holds 145 for receptions, while another holds 155. There's also a dedicated executive boardroom, Apella Suite 208, equipped with a 22-seat conference table and  a 114-inch high-definition rear-projection touch-screen. The adjacent Apella Suite 209 can be used as prefunction space and holds 22 for receptions.

To furnish the facility with decorative but functional amenities, Bentel & Bentel added a number of thoughtful and artfully hidden touches. These include power connections embedded into the surface of the conference desks and tables, walls mounted with oversize whiteboards, and open communal kitchen areas that serve as informal gathering points.

Directly below Apella on the ground floor is Riverpark, Colicchio's 174-seat restaurant, also designed by Bentel & Bentel. Suitably subtle and contemporary in its aesthetic, the eatery is marked by natural materials, including burnished bronze, weathered oak, and brushed limestone. The open-plan space, where floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the East River, also includes a 15-seat bar, a 44-seat patio, and a 150-seat private room that can be separated in two.

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