Olo Acupuncture has officially reopened after a complete renovation and expansion into the neighboring unit. With the help of Architect, friend, and patient Anjie Cho, co-founders Yuka Hagiwara and Michael Waterman first explored various options, including larger units in their current building at 119 West 23rd Street, other buildings in Chelsea, as well as in the surrounding neighborhoods of Union Square and Flatiron. Ultimately, their history and deep appreciation for the current space prevailed. With the landlord agreeing to combine the neighboring unit, it was a way to expand while even keeping the same address.
The result is a completely reimagined Olo Acupuncture, with room to grow as the city rebounds after the pandemic. There are now six private rooms, a reconfigured community room, additional office space, and a beautifully skylit reception area. Olo now has a smaller community room that is ideal for a single practitioner to see up to five patients at a time. The community room is also designed as an adaptable multipurpose room with built-in storage so tables and chairs can tuck away for other activities such as yoga, dance, and small events, including karaoke.
With over ten years of experience as a patient at Olo, the benefits of working with Anjie, with her understanding of the people and the medicine, were immediate. “There is the usual magic that she brings to all of her projects,” says Yuka, “but then there is a deeper connection since she is also a very regular patient. She was able to wear both hats and help us design a space that flows, is light-filled, and healing in and of itself.”
From Anjie’s perspective, it was “an honor and joy to co-create this precious healing space with Yuka and Michael. Kindness and intention are integral at every level. Olo is a jewel and a much-needed oasis in the middle of Manhattan, and I am also grateful to be able to receive the benefit as a patient since day one.”
There were other significant contributors to the project as well. West Elm, through their B2B Program generously provided much of the office furniture, as well as the “patient landing pad” mirrors and chairs in each private treatment room. “They have a wonderful team that helped put it all together,” says Yuka, “we love the results and are tremendously thankful for their support.”
There has also been a lot of interest in the fiber art installation on display in the reception. Created by a dear friend and Himalayan travel buddy Britt Alm, her work uses sustainably sourced yarns and fibers. A friend from college, the co-founders, crossed paths with Britt in Northern India after their first experiences with acupuncture while volunteering in Tibetan refugee communities. “Aside from knowing her work would be a great aesthetic fit for the reception, having such a long history and connection to these formative experiences with the medicine hold a lot of meaning for us,” says Michael.
Living and working in New York City, finding ways to bring natural elements into the project was important. The community room tree–a gift from Yuka’s father, which has been at Olo since the start–survived the renovation and again takes its place as an anchor in the community room. Yuka also took advantage of having the Manhattan Flower District so close to Olo, regularly browsing her favorite stores to find the ferns and other plants for the reception and the other sunlit rooms.
Once the renovation was complete, Yuka and Michael brought in photographer Kelly Marshall. Kelly is known for many things, including making commercial and residential spaces look their best. As a longtime friend who has collaborated with Olo through the years, it was the perfect way to wrap up the renovation.
So far, the response to the renovation has been glowing, with old and new patients alike appreciating the updated space. “This renovation represents the first part in a plan to align the clinic more closely with our values,” says Michael. “After closing our doors for six months during the height of the pandemic, cautiously reopening with limited capacity, and then operating during a renovation, we want to thank all our patients for sticking with us through it all. As we regain our footing, we’re looking forward to sharing more information about our plans in the coming months.”
Photos by Kelly Marshall