New World Design Builders
New World Design Builders delivers a fantasy world in Hollywood and dips its toes into the Northeast residential market.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
New World Design Builders is known for creating “Insta-worthy” environments for its clients in the hospitality industry and has begun translating that imaginative design into the high-end residential sector. “We build everything that we design,” founder and CEO Chris Kofitsas says. “We are not only the architects, but also the interior designers and general contracting company.”
Kofitsas started the New York City-based design/build firm 23 years ago. His goal was to eliminate the typical finger-pointing that plagued the construction industry, and to provide seamless integration of all aspects of design and construction. “I always thought it was unusual, even going back to when I worked in a firm in Manhattan right out of college, to have someone else build your design,” he remembers. “I realize it was the industry standard, but I just didn’t understand it and I wanted to be able to provide both seamlessly.”
Today, design/build firms are more prevalent in the industry but New World Design Builders was one of the first to recognize the benefits of combining the two. “Being a designer and contractor has made me better in both disciplines,” Kofitsas says. “I’ve learned through the years the challenges and strengths of both through building projects.”
New World Design Builders has focused mostly on the hospitality industry over the past two decades, creating and building endlessly captivating spaces. “I keep my office small purposely so I have an involvement in every project we do,” Kofitsas says. “If I’m not familiar with a project I’m not inspired. We do 10 to 15 projects per year and I’m usually working on three to four at a time. Our projects last anywhere from six months to a couple years.”
New World Design Builders has made a seamless entry into developing high-end custom homes in the Northeast because of its work in the hospitality industry in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Florida. “We have received a lot of exposure for our commercial products,” Kofitsas notes. “People see it and are engaged with our work and want this vernacular in their home.”
CATCH LA is one such commercial project that has received a lot of attention from celebrities and the media. The 12,000-square-foot rooftop project has become a visual sensation – voted by Architectural Digest as the third-most-Instagrammed restaurant in the country – because of its garden feel and an entryway longer than a basketball court that makes guests feel as though they are transported to a fantasy world.
“I wanted that first 100 feet to be really important and take you away from where you just were, which was downtown Los Angeles. It’s a little bit of fantasy,” Kofitsas says. “When you land upstairs in the elevator and start the procession into the restaurant, there is a fountain that is parallel to your path so you hear and see water. I also built a metal structure, similar to a trellis, adorned with plants and flowers above the entryway.”
CATCH LA was built on a rooftop in West Hollywood and, taking advantage of the city’s mild-to-warm weather year-round, is an entire restaurant devoted to an outdoor space. New World Design Builders designed a custom retractable tent structure that allowed it to cover 90 percent of the dining room, in case of inclement weather.
“The overtone of the restaurant is a garden feel, which is what I set out for it to have when I first visited the space more than three years ago,” Kofitsas says. “I’ve always been a huge fan of nature and I have always loved being outdoors. I had the unique opportunity here to bring that into an environment that didn’t exist in L.A.”
The 9,000-square-foot dining room space is broken into four distinct areas: the bar, private dining room, main dining room and the exterior space that is not covered. Each space has its own unique feel with lighting, furniture and layouts so that different microenvironments were created in one big environment. “It’s a big restaurant, but I wanted to create pockets of areas so I could get a more intimate feeling in different parts of the restaurant,” Kofitsas adds.
CATCH LA is unique because it is the only restaurant in the world that existed completely outdoors, so New World Design Builders had to get creative with the flooring. “The floor is everything in a space, and we actually had a roof underneath us,” Kofitsas explains. “We had to design a pedestal system where you could walk on pavers that were set above the roof without jeopardizing the integrity of the roof.”
New World Design Builders partnered with a company based in Italy that created roof pavers that looked like tile. The company selected wood grain and porcelain roof pavers to cover the rooftop.
The first CATCH is located in a four-story building in New York City, so New World Design Builders designed the exterior walls of CATCH LA with exposed brick. The company decided to distress the brick to make it look like it had been there for a long time. As the first location is in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, New World Design Builders incorporated railroad ties to give the entry a gritty, earthy feeling.
New World Design Builders recently completed a completely custom high-end home in the Prides Crossing neighborhood of Beverly, Mass. The shorefront property sits on grounds designed by architect Frederick Law Olmsted. “The property is very rich in history and the grounds are amazing,” Kofitsas says. “It sits about 100 feet over the ocean, so it’s shorefront but just steps above the ocean. From the vantage point of that home, you feel on top of the world. It has amazing views.”
The three-bedroom, 3,500-square-foot home sits on the foundation of the original house. The company kept the original foundation to avoid a historical review of the plans, which Kofitsas says could have extended the project six months to one year.
The Prides Crossing home’s star feature is the five connected door panels that span 40 feet across the back of the home, which looks onto the ocean. “I designed an overhang, so when you open the door and have about 35 feet of open air, you feel like the outdoor living area is part of the indoor living area,” Kofitsas explains. “The back of the home is made almost entirely of glass, which is not an easy thing to do today because of the strict energy efficiency codes in the home.”
New World Design Builders partnered with a door manufacturer that insulated the material enough to allow the entire back of the house to remain glass. Although it sits on property designed in the 1800s, the home is very modern with copper and black brick used on the exterior.
New World Design Builders fully customized the Prides Crossing home. “Every single thing in this home is custom built,” Kofitsas attests. “We designed the entire home, curated some of the future, but for the most part we made all the furniture. Everything matches perfectly down to the amazing artwork she has. I didn’t pick anything out of a catalog.”
Although New World Design Builders has always been quality-centric, Kofitsas says high-end residential design/build is on another level. “The level of detail that I expect from someone’s home is entirely different from commercial projects,” he explains. “You are scrutinized to another level in the high-end residential market, and it requires skill and patience.”
Moving forward, New World Design Builders will begin to design/build more high-end custom homes. “I really enjoy it,” Kofitsas says. “What is different for me is that it is a lot more personal and the quality is expected at a higher level.”