Cogs of the Machine:
Artisans use concrete
to get entryway into gear

Hudson River Landing in New York lobby with a concrete table installed
In the lobby of the Hudson River Landing in New York, a giant-sized concrete gear helps invoke an industrial feel. The commercial building once housed the Anchor Brewing Co. Photo by Andrew Federico

A giant-sized concrete gear table inspired by Ayn Rand’s novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” greets all who venture into the lobby of 145 Palisade St. in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Located on the banks of the Hudson River, the repurposed commercial building once housed the circa 1853 Anchor Brewing Co. However, today it’s home to artists, graphic designers, architects, photographers and production studios. It also houses wellness professionals, along with a florist and an award-winning salon.

Overall, it was important to the developer, The Bajraktari Group, to preserve the former brewery’s industrial-chic look. “We wanted to maintain that factory feel in this iconic building,” says Florim Bajraktari, the group’s director of sales and marketing. Formally named Hudson River Landing, some consider it the “Art Building of Westchester,” he adds.

A look at the table that was inspired but Atlas Shrugged
“Atlas Shrugged” inspired The Bajraktari Group’s piece of art named “Cogs of the Machine.” Photo by Andrew Federico
In first gear

Bajraktari, who also serves as the building’s property manager, specializes in acquiring distressed factories and revamping them into vibrant commercial entities. His group has properties throughout New York and in parts of Europe.

Almost six years ago, Bajraktari discovered concrete’s beauty and versatility and says he promptly “fell in love” with the medium. As a result, this affection prompted him to form a restoration division within The Bajraktari Group that specializes in polished concrete. It also inspired him to use concrete for the giant gear display he calls “Cogs of the Machine.”

“This gear represents just a piece of the bigger plans we have for the future,” says Bajraktari, who designed and created the piece with Ivan Djokic, the senior project manager. It took the pair a little over a year to complete the initial piece.

Concrete it is
The giant-sized concrete gear table was designed by two men who hail from Albanian roots. (From left) Florim Bajraktari is a first-generation American from Kosovo, while Ivan Djokic immigrated from Montenegro when he was 20. They chose concrete as the gear’s main ingredient because of its versatility. Photo by Andrew Federico

Bajraktari says they chose concrete because they wanted to demonstrate how such a rigid material could be “extremely malleable.” Combining it with various materials, Bajraktari and Djokic would use it to make a statement that would last many years.

They laminated three sheets of ½-inch plywood to make the internal gear and routed a channel for the larger gear. “We chose this method, as opposed to a solid-steel gear, to reduce the overall weight of the installation,” Bajraktari says. They then coated the wooden gear with a rust-activated paint and topped it with MAS Table Top Pro epoxy.

Around the gear’s outer edge in gold leaf, they imprinted a quote from the book. It reads: “I will stop the motor of the world,” attributed to John Galt, the hero of Rand’s novel.

The team crafted the internal gear out of wood. They made the surrounding gear using rigid foam and created a plaster negative. They then placed concrete countertop mix into the plaster mold. Finally, they finished the piece by applying an epoxy clear coat over the entire installation.
Photos courtesy of Florim Bajraktari 
Getting it in gear

The duo used a multistep process to create the concrete gear. First, they began with rigid foam board cutouts to mimic both external and internal gear teeth. Then they created a rebar brace to support the structure. Finally, they coated the forms with Quikrete Countertop Mix combined with additional small aggregate for added texture.

Meanwhile, the two fashioned the accessory sprockets for the base in a like manner. They created the base of the gear “to give the illusion of the gear levitating” over the Hudson River Landing logo in the main lobby, Bajraktari says.

the mold of the concrete gear table made out of foam cast concrete gear
a cog of the concrete gear table up close
The gear’s accessory sprockets are made with the same high-strength concrete mix as the main gear.
Photos courtesy of Florim Bajraktari
Concrete is the glue

Besides the huge gear, the art installation also features a repurposed steam valve from the early 1900s. They salvaged the valve from the old brewery’s furnace building.

A painting by Polish artist Jerzy Kubina rounds out the installation.

Overall, Bajraktari believes they’ve successfully transformed one of Westchester’s most iconic buildings without losing its original feel. “The concrete gear ties the whole thing together,” he says.

a close up look at the concrete gear table with cogs and intricate details
The finished concrete gear table successfully combines concrete, wood and metal to create a lasting tribute for the sake of art. Photo by Andrew Federico

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