Verso Technologies, a telecommunications company with headquarters in Atlanta, GA, is the finished product of a merger among several growing companies. The company offers a variety of technology infrastructure solutions to financial services, retail and other telecommunications clients. The technological nature of the business and Verso's bright, young staff necessitated having an office design that is both intriguing and energetic.
To achieve this, designers from Niles Bolton Associates, Atlanta, combined forms, lines and design elements in unexpected ways throughout Verso's 50,000-square-foot space located on two floors of a new Class A office building. This effort begins immediately at the elevator, where employees and clients step into the company's third floor lobby. Here, the existing barrel vaulted ceiling was painted blue, and then suspended drywall forms were installed to recreate the space. The blue ceiling peeks out from between two forms, one with a straight edge and the other curved. Curved lines reappear on ceilings, walls and floors throughout the office space and are one way the designers created a cohesive design from many parts.
"If you consider each area within the space by itself, there seems to be peculiar forms, lines and angles," says Hiro Isogai, principal, Niles Bolton Associates. "But when you consider the whole, you see a complete storyboard that is interesting."
The walls in the elevator lobby have a textured finish and are covered in a metallic paint. Randomly placed screw heads, wall sconces and decorative steel rods link walls to ceiling, and complete the walls' unexpected presentation. The floor of the elevator lobby combines hardwood and marble, which meet in a gentle curve that slices gracefully through the space. The marble leads to the reception desk and waiting area.
A tufted fabric panel on the face of the reception desk is the unexpected feature that greets clients as they walk further into the office. The remainder of the desk is
constructed from cherry wood, with a side portion made of drywall coated with metallic paint that is similar to the walls in the elevator lobby. Metal legs support the desk.
Moving from the desk toward the four lounge chairs in the waiting area, clients walk first on marble, then hardwood and finally carpet. The three floorings intersect at a "T." Why three floorings in one space? Why not, answers Isogai?
"We wanted hard flooring in the elevator lobby and the client liked both stone and hardwood," he explains. "So we opted for both in the lobby and then added the carpet, which is the flooring that is dominant throughout most of the office."
Above the seating area, a curved ceiling form mimics the one in the elevator lobby. Here, however, the cutout is covered with perforated metal chosen to conceal an air diffuser for heating and air conditioning. The lighting throughout the entry space sets the walls, floors and ceilings aglow. Halogen lights sparkle like stars against the ceiling, or create halos of light on the walls. On the wall opposite the reception desk, sconces mounted unexpectedly close to the floor enhance the marble's shine.
The remainder of this floor houses private offices and conference rooms along the two perimeter sides of the building with systems furniture in the remainder of the space. A combination of four carpets, alternating between solid and patterned, was installed. The intention of the carpet placement was to carry the energy of the reception and lobby throughout the large expanses of cubicles, while at the same time laying the foundation for a flexible environment if work stations need to be reconfigured in the future. This was achieved by designing an overall carpet pattern with unexpected angular strikes separating one carpet from the other.
The lower floor contains the boardroom, the network operations center (NOC) and data center—the most high profile areas in the office. A large call center is also located on the lower floor. The call center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is a sea of low paneled cubicles arranged in pods of four. A similar carpet pattern as the main floor was incorporated to continue the overall rhythm and energy of the space.
The NOC and the data center are Verso's lifelines. Thus, their proximity to the boardroom was critical in order to entice high profile clients. The NOC is approached from a curved lounge niche where, once again, marble, wood and carpet flooring merge as the elevator lobby blends into the corridor. The sidewall of the NOC is a custom metal design with clear and ribbed glass storefront that provides a glimpse into the room. Two large screens, encased in a custom metallic painted millwork wall, are the focal points of the room.
The boardroom is adjacent to the NOC and is entered through doors that are seemingly a continuation of the NOC's storefront wall, only the glass changes from ribbed and clear to ribbed and frosted. A floor-to-ceiling glass wall separates the two spaces and with the push of a button, a curtain recedes to fully reveal the NOC to clients. The boardroom is equipped with a large rear-projection screen that, like the screens in the NOC, has a custom metallic painted wood surround. The maple wood table here features power and data ports double stacked down the center. The chrome frame chairs have leather seats and basket weave fabric backs.
The high security data center is located on the opposite side of the floor and houses the inner workings of the company. A series of vertical fire glass sidelights in varying widths conceals the view from the boardroom, and automatic blackout shades match the wall color.