JOIN THE CONVERSATION
  HOME       LOGIN      CONTACT
 

01/01/2014

Inside The Modern Design Office

From building a corporate culture to integrating technology in intuitive ways, here’s how three leading design firms are redefining the modern office.

By Adam Moore and Robert Nieminen

 
  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_1.jpg

    Visitors to the Cannon Design Chicago office are greeted by a dramatic, sculptural steel wall and a 40-foot video mural with content by artist Thomas Gray. Polished surfaces create a sense of volume and openness.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER BARRETT View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_2.jpg

    Generous spaces abound in this studio, designed by Ziegler Cooper.
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_QA3.jpg

    Casual meeting spaces and bench style desking promote interaction and a work-anywhere mentality at Quadrangle Architects. All workstations are naturally lit.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_3.jpg

    Glazing on all of the meeting rooms in the offices of Quadrangle Architects ensures that a majority of interior spaces receive natural light.
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_4.jpg

    The ZCA Cafe in the Ziegler Cooper Houston office includes a variety of collaborative seating arrangements, as well as a unique "vendor wall"-—a 40-foot-long, 14-foot-high magnetic surface where fabric vendors can leave samples for designers to review.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_ZC1.jpg

    Another view of the ZCA Cafe. "The cafe has exceeded my expectations on how important of a cultural space it is," says ZC Senior Principal Scott Ziegler.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_5.jpg

    Large central gathering spots, like the Annex in the Quadrangle Architects office, provide opportunities for collaboration and social connection.
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_6.jpg

    Large central gathering spots, like an open cafe in the Cannon Design office, provide opportunities for collaboration and social connection—-what Mark Hirons calls "the learning work."
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER BARRETT View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_7.jpg

    Seamless digital meeting technologies exist side-by-side with "analog" touches like whiteboards and tackboards in the modern design office, allowing ideas to flourish in any medium. Cannon Design created a "Black Box" space, which features movable pin-up panels on overhead tracks for even more flexibility.
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER BARRETT View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_QA1.jpg

    The reception area in the new Quadrangle Architects office features a hand-finished, cold rolled steel wall that incorporates an abstraction of the firm's symbol set.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_QA2.jpg

    The reception waiting area at Quadrangle Architects features bespoke light fixtures and provides a great view of the Incubator and design studio in action.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_CD1.jpg

    The Cannon Design office fosters a single, collective culture with a center forum area that offers a cafe, resource area, lounge spaces and a large gallery.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER BARRETT View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_8.jpg

    Seamless digital meeting technologies exist side-by-side with "analog" touches like whiteboards and tackboards in the modern design office, allowing ideas to flourish in any medium.
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_QA4.jpg

    The model making area in the Quadrangle Architects office supports the making and display of hand-made and digitally printed models. The area is also adjacent to large layout and critique spaces.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY NAOMI FINLAY View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_ZC2.jpg

    The Resource Lab in the Ziegler Cooper Houston office features six different track and dome lights so designers can evaluate different materials under different lighting conditions.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_ZC3.jpg

    The Innovation Lounge is located among the workstations in the Ziegler Cooper offices, encouraging employees to mingle and collaborate more often.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/online/0114/I_0114_ZC5.jpg

    The "Critic's Corner" in the Ziegler Cooper Houston office allows designers to leave their desks and discuss work in a creative, flexible environment.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2014/0114/I_0114_Web_Ftr_Inside_9.jpg

    Laser-cut models, seen here on display in the Ziegler Cooper reception area, are made in a high-tech shop on site at an early stage in the design process, wowing potential cients.
    PHOTOGRAPH BY JUD HAGGARD View larger

tech that works (and wows)
This is something desired by most companies in the digital age, but it seems that design firms have been among the first to figure out how to integrate all of the necessary systems smoothly, and in ways that enhance productivity without interrupting the flow of the design process itself.

At Quadrangle's new office, employees can take advantage of office-wide Wi-Fi and AV support, allowing them to work anywhere in the 17,000-square-foot space, from the bench-style desking overlooking the city's skyline or the numerous glazed meeting rooms. "We have a work-anywhere technology backbone," Robbie says. "This freedom allows us to leverage the collective knowledge of our firm better." Lighting systems can be controlled remotely by smartphones and each staff member's VOIP phone and computer, conserving energy and improving lighting quality, particularly for those with low vision.

The technology found in Cannon Design's Chicago space is similarly integrated, with differing levels of technology support spread across the office's 20 different work settings. Teaming areas include projectors and whiteboards, or flat screen monitors. Magnetic wall surfaces can be written on, and include e-beam tools that enable electronic mark-ups that can be saved and shared. Employees can log onto their computers from anywhere inside or outside of the office.

"Pretty much everything is electronic, so if [an employee] is bringing a client through for the first time, they can sit down in front of a teaming area or go to the lounge, pull up a monitor, and tell a story or share insights on any given project live," says Hirons. "It really brings [technology] to a much more intuitive perspective, as opposed to it sometimes being a barrier."

Employees in Ziegler Cooper's Houston office enjoy many of the same tools, including 90-inch plasma screens and software that allows them to make live markups on drawings and images for clients hundreds or thousands of miles away. ("Our clients have gotten so comfortable with the technology they don't even come to our office," Ziegler quips.) As of last year, the firm also equips all of its new designers with iPads, allowing them to make presentations on any of the Apple TV-equipped monitors around the office.

But for all of this, perhaps one of Ziegler Cooper's most forward-thinking tech investments has been in wood. The firm invested in a laser-cut model and paint shop in its basement space, giving it the ability to create "seductive, miniature-scaled" basswood models early in the design process. According to Ziegler, it provides the firm with the ability to "bring the sculptural aspects of the design and the materiality in the renderings" to the client more quickly. It also has a way of capturing clients' imaginations in irreversible ways.

"We have won more assignments with those laser-cut minis," he says. "When you create one of those objects of desire, your clients become attached very early on to design, where you don't have to ever defend your design anymore."


Pages: 1  2  3  View All  
 

 

©Copyright 2013 Stamats Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. / Interiors & Sources