McAlpine: Inspired Design in NoMad

March 1, 2024
By Keith Dale Gordon

In the world of architecture and design, where creativity meets craftsmanship, McAlpine stands as an iconic firm of architecture and design in NoMad. Founded by Bobby McAlpine, this renowned firm has carved its path with a unique blend of Romantic Modernism, pushing boundaries while embracing emotion and individuality in every project. I had the privilege of speaking with Greg Tankersley, Partner at McAlpine for almost 30 years, to discuss the essence of their success, the growth of their Manhattan office, and the allure of their NoMad location in Kew Management’s historic St. James building.

Design in NoMad
Founder Bobby McAlpine with Partners Greg Tankersley & Ray Booth in McAlpine’s NoMad office. Photo: Paul Colliton

Distinctive Approach to Design

McAlpine’s approach to design can be summed up in two words: Romantic Modernism. Unlike their Ivy League peers, they don’t confine themselves to classical norms but rather revel in the freedom of expression, utilizing a visual vocabulary that ranges from classical to modern and everything in-between. Tankersley explains that it’s freeing when “all the crayons in the box are available.”

He emphasizes that McAlpine’s work is deeply personalized, resonating with clients on an emotional level. “They see something in our work that they feel and it speaks to them.” This ethos has allowed McAlpine to establish a strong foothold across 30+ states. The portfolio of residential work out of the New York office spans from the Hamptons to Boston and Greenwich to Philadelphia and beyond, reflecting a diverse range of architectural languages.

Unwavering Growth Amidst Change

Despite the challenges initially posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, McAlpine experienced a surge in business. Tankersley recounts how he returned to the office in May 2020, with the phone ringing off the hook. Shortly after, the office buzzed back to life as restrictions eased, with the entire team returning to the workspace by June 2020 to design in NoMad with “Pink Floyd blaring.” The camaraderie and creative synergy that surfaces when collaboration is in-person proved to be indispensable – reaffirming the importance of designing together. This dedication to collaboration and a strong, kind culture has been integral to McAlpine’s sustained growth.

The Rise of McAlpine’s Manhattan Office

With longstanding headquarters in Montgomery and Nashville, McAlpine expanded with offices in New York City & Atlanta. Tankersley muses, “We have grown our business by intuition – like the way we design.” The journey of McAlpine’s Manhattan office is a testament to their expansionary vision and intuition. What began in 2015 with a modest team of two grew into their largest office with 16 exceptional individuals.

Design in NoMad
McApline office hallway; Conference area with floating lacquered ceiling panel; Artfully composed service & file area.

Kew Management has given us great support and been amenable with our continued growth – first in 2019 and again in 2022. They are amazing to work with and responsive to their tenants. We now have the entire north end of the 14th floor.” Tankersley adds only half-jokingly that he’s eyeing the office next door for further expansion.

Firmly established in the historic St. James building in NoMad, McAlpine’s New York hub offers a panoramic view of the city skyline, with every desk overlooking the iconic Empire State Building and from Tankersley’s office a view of Madison Square Park. This strategic choice of location reflects McAlpine’s affinity for vibrant spaces and a commitment to being where creativity thrives.

Design in NoMad
Bay window desks outfitted with computers and drafting boards (left). View north of the Empire State Building (right).

Embracing NoMad’s Creativity

For McAlpine, NoMad isn’t just a location; it’s a lifestyle. Tankersley shares his love for the neighborhood, from its proximity to cultural gems like theaters to its bustling green markets and culinary delights. “Eataly has the best butcher in the city.” For Tankersley, living and working in NoMad is ideal. The NoMad office allows the McAlpine team to immerse themselves in NoMad’s creativity and culture of art, cuisine, and architectural detail, enriching their creative endeavors. Tankersley strongly believes that “bringing a full life back into the office” only makes the work better.

A Hub of Design in NoMad

Beyond its cultural offerings, NoMad is known as a destination for design resources. With an array of marble, stone, and tile suppliers within arm’s reach, designers at McAlpine find inspiration around almost every corner. Proximity to design hubs like the New York Design Center at 200 Lex facilitates access to premium product and materials, enabling McAlpine to weave their vision into every project with ease.

In essence, McAlpine’s journey epitomizes the essence of design as a fusion of artistry, innovation, and human connection. With a steadfast commitment to pushing boundaries, nurturing creativity, and embracing the spirit of collaboration, McAlpine continues to redefine the landscape of architecture and design, one project at a time. In the heart of NoMad, amidst the pulsating energy of the city, McAlpine finds not just a location but a culture where the imagination can soar.

To learn more about McAlpine, find their books McAlpine: Modern Romanticism; Poetry of Place: The New Architecture and Interiors of McAlpine; The Home Within Us: Romantic Houses, Evocative Rooms at Rizzoli Bookstore on the NoMad Piazza.