There’s no questioning that COVID-19 has forced many to rethink open offices altogether, but Kavovit emphasizes the layout’s adaptability. “Whoever leases that space is going to come in and take [COVID prevention] to the next level,” she says, referring to the plexiglass dividers and additional glass walls a future tenant might install. As for the construction process itself, which started in March 2020, safety was of the utmost importance. “Personal protective equipment was used throughout the project, and everybody was maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, [and] sterilizing,” she assures me.
For Kavovit, this project was about more than just winning a bid or crafting a well-made space. “It was a very emotional feeling for me because I look at myself as being a very brave woman who’s had to stand up to an onslaught of different situations over the past 25 years,” she says. “I felt like I had a similar trajectory to the women that stood up in the courtroom, so it was important for me to represent all women within the #MeToo movement.”
Working in a male-dominated field, Kavovit “knows what it means not to be taken seriously,” and she’s passionate about helping other women navigate the construction industry. That passion was clearly reflected on the Weinstein project, where the “star project manager is a woman [and] probably 25 women at any given time were doing electrical work, demolition, and sprinkler work.” She took videos on-site, she explains, “because it’s so important to show women that they can break through the glass ceiling and this old boys’ network. We just have to keep chipping away.”
Evergreen Construction completed the renovation of 99 Hudson this month, and the office is now up for lease by its owner, Olshan Properties. The question remains whether prospective tenants will be able to overlook an office space famously associated with sexual misconduct, but Kavovit isn’t concerned. “Knowing that there was so much determination and resilience and grit that went into this beautiful space…it was about so much more than just taking a sledgehammer [to it],” she says. “It’s turning over a new leaf on where we were and where we are going in the world.”