Office Renovations Focus on Occupant Choice of Workspace

05/06/2019 | By Valerie Dennis Craven

Our surroundings affect us, whether we realize it or not. From figuring out where things are in a building for easy navigation, to having a variety of spaces inside and out for work and play, or a focus on health and sustainability, today’s workplace design trends focus on a happy, healthy day.

A Choice of Spaces

Open office design is one example of an idea that hoped to have a positive impact but fell short of its goal. It was expected to be the solution to collaboration in the workplace.

Gensler Research Institute’s U.S. Workplace Survey 2019 states that fewer than one in four people want a totally open or private work environment, with 28% of workers favoring a mostly open workspace with on-demand private space.

The 2019 Staples Workplace Survey had similar findings. Respondents find an open office layout distracting, with 40% saying their office space is too open. What employees want, the survey found, isn’t a closed space, but a choice of environments.

Abrams Publishing HQ
(Photo: Abrams Books transitioned from cubicles to an open plan. The solution Spacesmith came up with was a 6-by-6 inch custom cube with overhead shelving, book display and lots of shelving for things that used to be piled in the offices. The cubicles, as opposed to a more open bench workplace, allowed staff a sense of enclosure. Elements like the book display enable staff to personalize their workplace. Credit: Eric Laignel courtesy Spacsemith)

Workplace Design Trends

In the 2019 office and interiors section, the BUILDINGS staff highlights renovation projects in existing buildings that focus on tenant health, wellbeing and collaboration. These are trends that can set your building and space apart, while offering occupants flexible and healthy options.

Our coverage can be broken down into four workplace design trends:

Shared spaces: Including lobbies, breakrooms, collaborative spaces and more.

Outdoor spaces: Rooftops and outside patios can be an extension of your inside space, designed for work and play.

Sustainability: Green materials and healthier finishes and solutions are often expected in renovations.

Wayfinding: From signage to lighting and design, continue your renovation throughout to guide occupants in your new space.

Tips for a Smoother Renovation

“Renovation projects are always about adapting to existing conditions,” notes Louise Sharp, principal at the Los Angeles office of HLW. Because you are updating a space, there are important factors to consider:

Where and how to spend money.

Look for areas where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck, suggest Jacqueline Castro, principal, and Taunya Carra, corporate real estate project manager for Stantec. They suggest “creating a ‘wow’ factor” in areas clients see, like the lobby.

[Related: Materials Science: The Demand for Sustainable Materials]

Design around an existing space.

While some things can be moved, some, like supporting beams or historic elements, can’t. Use the history of the space to your advantage to create a unique environment. Use the architectural bones to provide inspiration for how to integrate existing elements with new components, suggest Allyson Strowbridge, owner and principal of ctrl+shift+space, and Jamie Willemse, owner of Studio 7 Design.

Kate Macaulay, project manager for The Architectural Team Inc, echoes that thought. “Allowing original aspects of the building to shine through and celebrating the historic next to the modern creates an exciting contrast that makes a workplace feel unique and special,” she says.

Sleep Number Headquarters

<<PHOTO>> PH_180517_N10 <<IMAGE CREDIT>> Corey Gaffer Photography <<CAPTION>> Sleep Number moved its headquarters, bringing together corporate office and R&D facilities with the help of HGA. With a shift to more shared space, HGA created an environment that is focused on a sense of community, communication and collaboration.
(Photo: Sleep Number moved its headquarters, bringing together corporate office and R&D facilities with the help of HGA. With a shift to more shared space, HGA created an environment that is focused on a sense of community, communication and collaboration. Credit: Corey Gaffer Photography)

Work during a renovation.

This can be difficult for everyone involved, even if the pain is temporary. There are ways to make it easier during transition.

During the renovation of the atrium and addition of a café at 7 Sylvan Way in Parsippany, NJ, JZA+D created excitement for what was to come. “We installed a pop-up kiosk for food service to operate during construction, and utilized the renderings of our design to create poster-size installations illustrating the project’s goal,” says managing partner Joshua Zinder.

[Read also: Connected Buildings Save Money, Improve Tenant Experience]

Andrea Schaub and Steve Smith, principals at Cooper Carry (which just renovated its own offices), recommend planning logistics far in advance. Provide temporary spaces and services for people and items needed during the renovation. They recommend working with an expert who knows your space and culture to determine what will work for your space while being displaced.

Have a plan for your space and how you use it.

“Having a strong, well-thought-out program that quantifies the needs for each space enables the execution of meaningful and long-lasting design,” says James Simeo, principal at CO Architects.


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