Commercial Architecture July/August 2016 - (Page 6)

DEPARTMENT the architects Informal Workplaces Make Play Productive Christopher Bockstael, AIA Partner, Svigals+Partners I n recent years, commercial and institutional groups increasingly ask designers to create office settings that are more friendly, comfortable, and informal. "Lighten it up" is the new rule, not the exception. This has opened the door for real innovation. It's also part of the stated mission at Svigals+Partners, New Haven, CT, to conceive productive playgrounds: environments that are condu- For break rooms, develop ideas for lounge spaces with a mix of comfortable seating and family-style tables. Furnishings that can be easily grouped together for staff meetings and presentations stretch the versatility of these spaces. cive to open participation and creative collaboration, and the kind of grown-up play that supports progress, inspiration, and productivity. Along with these opportunities come challenges, For a major soft drink brand, Svigals+Partners created an "ideation lab" that incorporated digital media, flexible furniture solutions, and floor-to-ceiling writeable walls of whiteboard or blackboard paint over a level 5 drywall finish. however. For example, interpreting what "friendly" or "informal" mean to different clients or corporate cultures wireless charging systems are advancing rapidly. Mean- and reclaimed and rustic materials. New research shows is essential. Many workplace projects demand some level while, well-designed plug-and-play pods in the floor or the benefits of such finishes-as well as views of the out- of flexibility, too. But different organizations define flexi- furnishings can serve electricity and data needs. doors, interior plantings, figurative art, and other such el- bility in vastly divergent ways. The key to success and the Modular furniture, re-locatable partitions, and raised ements, often referred to as biophilic-to occupant health most supportive workplaces is to engage each client in a floors allow quick refreshes of the workplace look. Com- and productivity. Mixing these materials with bold colors collaborative process from the earliest possible pre-plan- pany divisions or employee groups can completely recon- and patterns creates vibrant, visually stimulating spaces. ning phases. figure at will, rearranging workspaces, break rooms, meet- The ideation lab described above, for example, incorpo- ing areas, and lounges to support their needs and even rated a rich maple discovery wall. The feature serves as a their whims. storage space and idea center, with sliding cubbies backlit Programming to support flexibility and a friendly environment requires rethinking how open-plan offices work. For example, traditional break rooms and kitchen- The most playful and productive playgrounds of all ettes are out. Forget those usual two- and four-top tables employ unique ways of customizing work space. An in- tucked away in a small non-descript room. Instead, devel- vestment banking firm's Connecticut headquarters, for Everyone needs a productive playground in their lives. op ideas for lounge spaces with a mix of comfortable seat- example, takes inspiration from its leadership's shared love But change is hard for many organizations. Fortunately, ing and family-style tables. Using adjustable and move- of music. The result? Smack dab in the middle of the trad- innovation and creativity can be introduced with small able furnishings that can be easily grouped together for ing-room floor is the Quiet Room, as it's known, which gestures as well as big ones. Encouraging play and infor- staff meetings and presentations stretches the versatility looks like a recording studio enclosed in sound-treated mal collaboration can offer surprising rewards, including of these spaces. to display images from nature on transparent polycarbonate 3Form panels. double-glazed walls etched with the company's branding increases in employee focus and morale. Once our clients This flexible approach promotes workplace collab- and fitted with color-changing lighting and an illuminat- see that playgrounds can be productive, they tend to ask oration and communication. Add to this some focal el- ed "In Use" sign. Inside, a high-tech sound system stocked for more. CA ements that support office culture, such as an art wall, with the employees' collected music libraries provides an a coffee bar, or a ping-pong table. These add a comfort oasis in the middle of the trading floor, suited for private lifestyle that can benefit recruiting and retention of the meetings, chat sessions, and reflective moments. Christopher Bockstael, AIA, is a partner at Svigals+Partners, New Haven, CT, and director of innovation space for the firm. Bockstael approaches design through the holistic integration of client vision, culture, and sustainability to develop meaningful environments, weaving together the creative aspects of architecture with pragmatic design solutions. He spearheads quality assurance for the firm, and identifies strategic business opportunities. best people. For one client, a major soft-drink brand, we Speaking of lighting, integrating daylight into our created an "ideation lab" that incorporated digital media, workplaces is essential today. For the below-grade ground- flexible furniture solutions, and floor-to-ceiling writable floor offices of a leading pharmaceutical company, Svi- walls of whiteboard or blackboard paint over a level 5 gals+Partners brought together glass walls, transoms, and drywall finish. In another case, we specified back-painted bright finishes to maximize natural illumination. Years glass as a striking alternative. In each instance, the design ago, calculating the number of lighting fixtures for an in- featured a splash of color, texture, branded graphics, or all door office space only required determining the average of the above, to reinforce the client culture. uniform horizontal illumination in a space. Now, how- Interview With Christopher Bockstael With wireless technologies, informal workplace ap- ever, non-uniform approaches to office lighting design proaches are even more effective. Furnishings are more are taking the lead, thanks to an increased emphasis on Learn more about creating informal and flexible moveable without wired data ports, and Wi-Fi eliminates energy conservation and a shift toward task lighting at workspaces in our interview with Christopher Bockstael cable-management issues and the unsightly runs of visible workstations. at wires. Power continues to be a connectivity challenge, but 6 COMMERCI A L A RCHI T EC T URE JUL/AUG 2016 We're also specifying far more natural-wood finishes

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Architecture July/August 2016

The Architects
Re-Imagining Detroit
Cigar Factory Embarks On A New Life
Windows & Door Products
Historic Renovation Includes Geothermal
Church Sings Praises Of Condensing Boilers
HVAC & Plumbing Products
Raising The Roof On Historical Bath House
Two Paws Up For Rubber Floors
Interiors Products
Library Blends Stone And Glass
Exteriors Products
Lighting For The Future
Lighting & Electrical Products
High-In-The-Sky Safety
Building Technology Products

Commercial Architecture July/August 2016