As the winners of the 2014 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.
Shaw Contract Group spoke with Julie Laurin IIDA CID LEED AP – Design Director, Kerry Wilson, AIA, LEED AP – Principal/Architect, and Heidi Hendy, CID, LEED AP – Principal about high expectations, encouraging new interactions, and future success.
Describe this project in one word.
How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact users in a space?
When these two companies—one from a more progressive open environment and one traditional office layout—merged into a single corporate entity, everyone had heightened expectations that something was going to change. Maximizing this opportunity of expectations, we were able to design a space based on how the employees migrated through the space, unlike typical office layout norms. The hub, great room, and casual conferencing were all placed directly adjacent to the main lobby. This location supported a “first place to stop” behavior that encourages cross-cultural and team-centric connections between the newly merged companies.
The strategic placement of these spaces for employee engagement , individual focus and telecommuting touchdown stations has proven to encourage new interactions with all and is quickly uniting the organizational cultures into one. When the managing principle was asked , “what element of design has had the most positive impact on the organization?” He quickly replied, “ The Great Room. If I’m ever looking for an individual that the first place I go. It is always in use!”
Design is a process. Explain your journey.
A new workplace strategy can change only as fast as its organizational threshold and leadership expands their views, which at times can be a painfully slow process. This design had to support new ways of working into a team-oriented space without diminishing the positive qualities of either corporate culture. The project was polarized between the traditional and open layout norms , each had to buy in first, and each carefully considered step forward seemed to be followed by a step back. After several open-plan iterations followed by complete conceptual reversals, the client saw the advantages of leaning toward an environment that would connect and engage the staff.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
Today, there is too much focus on design trends and not enough on sound business principles. The designed space should be a tool for the client’s future success. This is possible only when you understand the client’s current and future goals, organizational process, culture, and leadership dynamics.