Eight cool things about a consulting firm’s new workplace

Connectivity, openness and focus drove the design for this clean, cool, creative office

Our confidential client, an international publicly-traded consulting firm, wanted to merge two groups, its product design/programming group (which creates apps) and its creative services group (which handles marketing/advertising functions) in a new 15,000 SF workplace within a larger corporate office in Northern Virginia. It wanted a stimulating, creative space where its people could collaborate easily.

In visioning with VOA, words such as “open, focus, collaborative, clean, cool” emerged as drivers for the design. The firm wanted to redefine the company culture in the space, show a youthful influence and develop a space outside its corporate standards. It wanted to showcase its creative talent and allow for client drop-ins at a moment’s notice.  It wanted a space that was interactive, cool, transformative, and more collaborative.

Today, with the space occupied and operational, we’ve made a list of some of our favorite aspects of developing the design for this new office environment.

  1. Process. This engaged client wanted something different to bring these groups together. The end users, who now occupy the space, had input from the get-go, and this resulted in exceptional involvement throughout the design process. The collaboration had us incorporating these user’s ideas for planning, the degree of openness and features for the space.
  2. Budget. Just $58/SF might not seem like enough to make a true transformation possible, but we opted for design with great utility and maximum impact. We added ceiling interest, invested in colorful green fabric panels that slide on tracks and created a variety of work areas. We didn’t expend much on walls, however, as this entire floor was designed without private offices. The client wanted benching-style workstations. They wanted openness in a collaborative space for their creatives.
  3. Rooms. Connectivity drove the design concept for the new workplace. The client said its ideal space would include collaborative spaces for designers, stand-up areas, small quiet spaces, and ones with more privacy for writers as well as spaces for focus work and “phonebooths.”We created a floor plan which provides a flexible, open, agile environment where connections can be made around any corner, within any area and at any time. Clients can participate and connect with staff and get a feel for the cutting-edge technology and solutions the client is developing. It’s a showcase.This work environment supports work processes of the team, accommodates different work styles through alternative work settings. It provides choices that satisfy generational differences. It features a blend of flexible open work neighborhoods, flexible enclosed focus/huddle rooms, individual focus/phone rooms, enclosed collaborative spaces and casual social spaces where work can take place. We also gave the client stand-up meeting spaces it requested. There are no private offices.
  4. Technology. Built-in technology supports what these creatives do. Laptops seamlessly connect to monitors in meeting areas such as the hallway stadium area. There’s even a small room where product designers can observe and record user interactions with software they’re developing from cameras mounted above.
  5. Sustainability. The client performs consulting in sustainability field and is committed to green practices. As a tenant, it submeters utilities. The new workplace features a complete LED lighting package and carefully chosen materials from ceiling tiles and furnishings to the linoleum flooring and 100% recycled polyester wall panels. Lighting is occupancy sensitive by code and bike racks are plentiful. The project is on track to achieve LEED Gold.
  6. Colors. The client wanted a colorful space to inspire its creatives, as exemplified in the hallway stadium area, in contrast to more neutral corporate spaces elsewhere. Colorful walls in the meeting rooms are actually pin-up boards for brainstorming. Perforated green wool panels move on tracks for a measure of flexibility in the open spaces.
  7. Layers. The client added an additional layer of design to the space with imagery and graphics in spaces such as the phone rooms. We anticipated this, so we created opportunities for the client to customize and incorporate another layer of visuals.
  8. How it’s being used. The end users are taking advantage of the features they told us were important. Tackable surfaces, for example, are already filled with flowcharts and imagery. This creative-oriented workplace provides new spaces for new ways of working that the client doesn’t have anywhere else. The new café area has emerged as a gathering place and a casual space for working. There’s nothing else like it within the two buildings the company occupies.

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