Text description provided by the architects. Our design approach focused on the building’s connection to its surrounding environment, the architectural expression of sustainability, the simple use of basic materials, creation of a team-oriented work environment and a truly integrative process from the very beginning. After programming, but prior to the start of the design process, preliminary energy modeling and material studies were done to explore the potential strategies for design intervention in the existing building. Following these studies there were two community charettes that included members of the community, community organizations, academic institutions, clients, consultants and employees. These charettes were used to explore values, goals, expectations and ideas, both related to the building and the surrounding neighborhood.
After the community charettes, workshops were conducted with the employees to learn what they wanted from their work environment and sustainability charettes were conducted with the entire design team (owner, architect, consultants and contractor). It was at this point we put pen to paper and started designing the building.
Our design threaded around two key concepts. The first was to create an office environment advantageous to all employees and one that encouraged “chance encounters” to generate opportunities for creative interaction and creative reflection. To accomplish this, we planned the spaces to place individual offices and workstations to the interior of the building, leaving spaces along the exterior walls open for common access to daylight, views and natural ventilation.
These spaces along the exterior walls and other areas placed strategically around the office are used for meetings, team work areas, small group interaction and places to get away from your desk and think. A few of these areas are mezzanines above enclosed offices in the two-story “barn” space, which also serve to link the upper level studio space with the “barn” space through interactivity at both levels.
The second concept was to stay true to the industrial aesthetic and materials already inherent in the building and immediate surrounding neighborhood, yet also be sensitive to the residential nature of the larger neighborhood and express the new use of the building. To achieve this, we incorporated many of the existing materials into the aesthetic of our interior design, left new materials like the ductwork with their raw finish and celebrated the expression of the exposed building systems. On the exterior of the building, we incorporated white oak cladding, aluminum panels and stucco.
The white oak speaks to both the residential makeup of the larger neighborhood as symbolic house clapboard and the industrial character of the immediate surrounding neighborhood by its precise lines and exposed stainless steel fasteners; the aluminum panels address the refinement of a professional office and links to the future; and the stucco echoes the historic finish of the original building.