Originally published in Interiors & Sources

06/01/2007

Substance Beneath the Stereotype

By Elzy Kolb

The new headquarters for San Diego-based Biosite Inc. employs the function of Bauhaus principles while keeping people and the planet in mind.

 

Bauhaus architecture may not be the first thing that comes to mind when visualizing an employee-friendly work environment that encourages human interaction and provides an abundance of intimately scaled informal gathering spaces. This particular style, pioneered in Germany in the early 20th century, is often mistakenly pigeonholed as hard-edged, austere and strictly functional.

But the owners of San Diego-based Biosite Inc., which develops and manufactures diagnostic tools for the healthcare industry, understand the substance beneath the stereotypes. For company co-founders Kim Blickenstaff, chairman and CEO; Ken Buechler, president and chief science officer; and Gunars Valkirs, senior vice president, Bauhaus was the only way to go when planning for the company's new headquarters.

The three lifelong architecture buffs admire Bauhaus and have traveled around the globe to view prime examples of this design style. They saw the construction of a new facility as not only an opportunity to consolidate Biosite's far-flung executive offices, research and development, warehousing, and manufacturing units on a single, incrementally expandable site, but also as a chance to create an architecturally exciting, new campus reflecting the Bauhaus principles.

Additional project goals included improving workflow and opportunities for collaboration in buildings that are energy efficient, sustainable and have an abundance of natural light, even in interior spaces.

"Bauhaus was the credo: the theme used on the whole project," says principal-in-charge Frank Ternasky, AIA, of the architectural firm Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker. "It was used in the site planning, the master planning ... we always referred back to that."

Michael Dunbar, Biosite's head of facilities, comments, "The architects really took time to make sure the style was achievable; they listened to how individual departments work, how they work together, and kept us involved in the whole process."

The human element played a key part in the design of the four Biosite buildings, which are garnering high marks from the occupants for their functionality and comfort. "The thought, inside and out, was to create spaces people would enjoy going to and spending time in," says Michael Wilkes, CEO and principal of Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker. "The interior spaces [are] not very long or tall, [and are not] grand, open spaces. This was intended to create an intimacy of space."

To ensure that employees didn't retreat to their closed offices and miss out on chances to interact with their co-workers, the buildings' intersecting corridors contain numerous collaborative seating areas. "We tried to keep it so we'd offer places for people to congregate; [to] sit and hold a conversation. We tried to keep it so people would feel comfortable," says Dunbar. When employees run into one another, the chance of mixing and mingling often leads to spontaneous sit-down sessions for swapping ideas and getting the creative juices flowing.

"The corridors are slightly wider than normal; the intersections are exuberantly expressed and furnished so that colleagues can get together and speak if they meet in the hallways. There are nooks along the corridors that provide locations where they can talk, meet, or even just sit quietly by themselves," describes Wilkes. The buildings surround a courtyard, another area designed to bring people together, and contain break rooms, garden rooms and a cafeteria with outdoor views.

Since many of the materials the company uses have to be kept in a controlled environment, bridges facilitate the flow of people and products through the buildings' 325,000 square feet of space-making it possible to move about the campus without ever needing to go outside. The bridges' geometrically patterned stained glass walls evoke the paintings of 20th century Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.

Each facility is constructed of tilt-up concrete. "The budget required us to look for efficient ways to design the buildings," says Wilkes. The result is "very vigorous architecture," with angles "punching out and punching in," within the exposed structural system. The concrete interior walls are finished with a process called "sacking": where a skim-coat of cement is troweled on, filling in pits and imperfections and adding texture and color. A reactive stain is then mixed into the skim coat and reacts with the lime in the concrete, resulting in a mottled look and a soft tone that picks up other colors.

Even the stairwells were designed to be inviting, so people would be open to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The railings are crafted from steel-patterned mesh and frosted glass, and attractive blue and white fixtures illuminate the space. Small colored glass openings punctuate the walls, bathing the surface areas in soft hues as sunlight flows through, highlighting different spots throughout the day.

Throughout the facility, describes Ternasky, "We tried to get light as far into the building as possible. The introduction of light was a big thing with the owners-they didn't want the buildings to feel dark. They went to a little extra effort with the cost so that as many people as possible could see natural light." Transom windows on perimeter offices share light through the walls. The offices also have light shelves to bounce daylight into the interior, so it's almost always possible tell if it's still daylight without looking out a window.

Taking advantage of San Diego's abundant natural light was also part of the energy-efficiency planning, as it helps to reduce the demand for artificial lighting. High-efficiency lighting systems are equipped with sensors that turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Skylights made of calwall-a thick, insulating fiberglass and plastic material-mimic the Mondrian graphics and brighten up the interiors.

"They're energy conserving buildings, made from sustainable materials," notes Wilkes. "Almost all materials we used were chosen because they're recyclable or made from recyclables. Energy efficiency and sustainability were goals we achieved."

In keeping with the Bauhaus tradition, white is used liberally throughout the campus, and this hue is warmed with rich marble flooring and a wood accent wall in the lobby. Vibrant contemporary art, including framed Bauhaus posters from the 1920s and art commissioned by the owners carry on the theme.

"We tried to use simple materials," says Ternasky. "We were interested in simplifying things ... not using a lot of patterning." Vinyl floor covering was chosen because of its ease of maintenance. At Biosite, "They work with a lot of dyes and chemicals and the floors have to be cleaned nightly," he adds. "We used vinyl tiles in the hallways, with geometric patterns that are decorative and also serve as a wayfinding device. The patterns support the overall design."
The Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker team also consulted on the project's furniture applications-right down to the custom veneer and laminate desks-to help keep the design consistent and ensure that durable furniture was selected.

Dunbar offers high praise for the team effort put forth by Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker. "This project is a testament to their ability to really listen to what the client wants, and to expand on that," he says. "It's a phenomenal project. We get positive comments all the time about the facility and the unique job done with it. It gives people a positive mindset, [and] a new, fresh, enjoyable building to work in."

Dunbar also credits the success of the project to Biosite's co-founders: Blickenstaff, Buechler and Valkirs. "Their interest in and involvement with architecture is unusual, in my experience. Beyond ‘make it look pretty,' most people don't usually understand what goes into a building. The executives here understand architecture and what goes into it. That made my job easier."

Since the site can accommodate up to nine buildings and a total of 800,000 square feet for additional office space, warehousing, R&D, and manufacturing needs, there might be even more exciting developments on the Biosite campus in the future.

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Sources:

ARTWORK
artstudio 1.0.1 ltd.
(480) 663-0751

Tucker Robbins
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Palecek
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BANQUETTE BACK CUSHION
Donghia
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BANQUETTE SIDES, SEAT FABRIC
Maharam
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BANQUETTE
Klein Upholstery
(928) 853-4285

BAR STOOL
Andreu World
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(978) 632-2900

CABINETS
Custom-Hillcraft
(608) 221-3220

CARPET
Shaw | 8
(800) 441-7429

CEILING TILE
Armstrong
(480) 985-9087

CHAIR FABRIC
Donghia

CHAIR LEATHER
Moore & Giles | 5
(800) 737-0169

CHAIRS
Andreu World
America | 5
Berman Rosetti
(310) 476-6242

CHAISE CUSHION FABRIC
Donghia

CHAISE LEATHER BACK
Moore & Giles

CHAISE
Janus et Cie
(310) 601-2927

Silverline | 4
(305) 663-9560

CLIENT MANICURE CHAIR
Andreu World
America

COFFEE TABLE
Crate & Barrel
(800) 967-6696

Mimi London
(310) 855-2567

Perry Fuld
(800) 880-5152

DOOR HARDWARE
Forms+Surfaces
(800) 451-0410

FLOORING
Mannington
(800) 241-2262

Sant' Agostino | 7
39 0532844111

LEATHER WALL TILE
Robus
(812) 273-4183

LEATHER
Moore & Giles

LIGHTING
Lithonia
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LOUNGE CHAIR FABRIC
Carnegie
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Donghia Innovations in Textiles
(888) 899-6810

Moore & Giles

LOUNGE CHAIRS
Bright Chair
(888) 524-5997

Mimi London | 3

Silverline
Smith & Hawkins
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Ted Boerner
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MANICURE TABLE
Custom-Hillcraft

MANICURE TECH CHAIR
Harter
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OTTOMAN FABRIC
Donghia

OTTOMAN
Bright Chair
Crate & Barrel
Palecek

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Sherwin Williams
(800) 474-3794

PEDICURE STOOL
Living Earth
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PEDICURE THRONE
European Touch
(800) 626-6912

PENDANT LIGHTING
Foscarini
Leucos
(732) 225-0010

PENDANT LIGHTS
Terzani
(480) 998-5505

PILLOW
Diane's Draperies
(608) 222-1552

PILLOW LEATHER
Moore & Giles | 1

PILLOW FABRIC
Alaxi
(800) 453-5777

Donghia
Zoffany
(480) 675-8828

Innovations in Textiles

RECESSED LIGHTING
Lithonia

RUG
Bradford's Fine Floors
(480) 948-8908

Scott Group
(623) 594-5980

SIDE TABLE
Crate & Barrel
West Elm
(888) 922-4119

TABLE LAMP
Crate & Barrel

TABLES
Brent Comber
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Jeup Furniture
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West Coast
Industries Inc.
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TECH CHAIR LEATHER
Moore & Giles

TILE
Sant' Agostino

TRACK LIGHTING
Liton | 6
(323) 904-0200

TREATMENT TABLES
Living Earth Craft
(800) 925-0370

WALLS
Kirei USA | 2
(619) 236-9924

Contact:

CLIENT

Biosite Inc.
Heidel House, Evensong Spa
643 Illinois Ave.
Green Lake, WI 54941

PROJECT TEAM

ARCHITECTS

Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker
2265 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 299-6690
www.a-dwrb.com

ASSOCIATES

Randall Dolph, AIA
Clayton Herndon, AIA
Wan Su Lim, AIA
Markley Mills, AIA
Earl Y. Miyamoto, AIA
Russell Rex, AIA
William J. Rindone, AIA
Larry Rose, AIA

 

PRINCIPALS

Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA, CEO
M. Andrew Rodrigues, AIA, president
Michael L. Asaro AIA, principal
Paul E. Schroeder, AIA, principal
Frank S. Ternasky, AIA, principal

DIRECTOR OF INTERIORS

Adel Smith-Chapman, NCIDQ
Berns Schultz

PHOTOGRAPHY

Scot Conti Photography

 

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


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