Even though we don’t have a crystal ball here at r.o.i. Design, we are predicting an opportunity for building owners and developers to take advantage of the design and construction slow down caused by the pandemic. Many of our contractors tell us they are seeing a soft July and August with a pickup in the fall.
This may a perfect time for that light remodel, that small expansion, that improvement in light and air quality, or that upgrade to furnishings.
Office buildings with empty tenant space may want to upgrade their common areas and improve general first impressions to assist in attracting new customers.
Let us know if we can help you with some speedy design solutions so you can capture some summertime upgrades.
In Michigan, construction projects received the go-ahead start up again on May 6. r.o.i. Design had several jobs that we’re able to resume, most of which are working toward maintaining original deadlines with some schedule challenges. Here’s a summary of some of our construction jobs in progress.
Mars Hill Bible Church
We are partnered with InterActive Studio and Erhardt Construction in Phase 1 remodel of Mars Hill Bible Church’s offices and children’s ministry spaces. Mars Hill sold half of its building to Grandville Public Schools. Though the church isn’t sure when they can assemble for worship, they are optimistic that staff can return to new offices in August 2020. We are grateful for the diligence and flexibility of Erhardt Construction who has had to manage a remote design team and customer while keeping the job site safe and productive.
We are partnered with Pinnacle Construction in the office remodel for Pennell CPA. For this project, we opened up much of the enclosed space to create a more flexible workplace for this growing accounting firm. We are managing the design, with the help of TJA Architects. The goal is for the office to be move-in ready at the end of June. Like many companies, Pennell CPA has had many staff working from home, and they look forward to being able to gather in a larger space that will comply with current requirements for social distancing. Kudos to Pinnacle for keeping this project on track, where, at this writing, finishes are being applied and cabinets installed.
Total Fire Protection
We are partnered with First Companies and Dixon Architecture in the design of Total Fire Protection’s new facility. The new construction includes a large manufacturing and distribution warehouse and a two-story corporate and sales office. Total Fire Protection builds fire protection sprinkling systems, hazard specialty services, and system monitoring. They have outgrown their space on Kendrick Drive and are looking forward to a July move-in. In addition to their space, the building has tenant space making the overall build-out a huge footprint. First Companies are reporting that finishes are being installed, decorative lighting is showing up, and the cabinetry is being installed.
Grand River Bank
We are partnered with Dixon Architecture and BDR Construction on a new construction project at 50 Crahen Avenue in Ada, Michigan. Grand River Bank is the first-floor tenant of this building, which is their second location in West Michigan. This office will duplicate most of the services that they offer in their Grandville branch. The goal is for the bank to be operational this fall while being strategic and methodical about how to keep employees and customers safe. The COVID-19 pandemic and consequential social distancing requirements created a need for a little redesign, which is being addressed now and shouldn’t postpone their entry into the marketplace.
The r.o.i. Design team connected with Ryan Bassett from Evolution Wealth through our mutual friend, BluHouse Realtor Duke Gray. Due to the growth of Ryan’s financial consulting business, he was seeking a space that could reflect his brand and values, while accommodating more new customers. Working with the landlord’s team of remodelers, we helped him imagine a new layout and select finishes. The goal is for Evolution Wealth to occupy its new space in July.
A large part of r.o.i. Design’s success is our collaboration and engagement with each other. So naturally, we are looking forward to our return to the office after the stay-at-home quarantine.
While gatherings are being scrutinized, we know for many groups, being together adds a level of performance and creativity that can’t be achieved otherwise.
So, what can teams do to make safe gathering engaging and enjoyable? Here are some ideas from our customers and peers:
Create an outdoor breakroom with the appropriate distance between chairs. That may mean clearing some space and putting in a temporary railing to give the area a sense of space. Outdoor furniture and accessories, including a fire pit, umbrellas, space heaters, and bug repellents could be added.
Stagger breaks and the use of breakrooms so fewer occupants are present at one time, allowing for social distancing.
Remove some of the chairs, so people are spaced apart.
Post interesting facts about co-workers and the company in the breakroom to encourage staff to leave their desks.
Run games in the breakroom to create friendly competition between shifts.
One of our customers removed the breakroom tables and brought in two ping pong tables for people to eat at, meet at, and of course, play ping pong. They created circles on the floor to help folks visualize safe distances.
A more extreme change was by a medical customer who hung clear shower curtains in the space to create “booths” to maximize the use of their cafeteria. They reorganized seating to allow for wide aisles that lead to the booths. The reports are that folks are sitting in adjacent booths so they can still have a conversation during lunch.
Another group with more than 50 employees agreed to stagger its in-office work schedules. They removed cubicles in order to create a much larger open space. They populated the open area with chairs, physical therapy balls, and lounge seating positioned six feet apart. In those areas, large monitors are being used to engage with others, who may be working from home that day. They plan to move people back altogether before the fall.
“The way we gather matters. Gatherings consume our days and help determine the kind of world we live in, in both our intimate and public realms. Gathering—the conscious bringing together of people for a reason—shapes the way we think, feel, and make sense of our world…”
r.o.i. Design has worked with contractors and realtors to transform some not-so-great spaces into spaces that create a WOW factor for occupants and visitors. Here are some before and after stories that we hope inspire our readers to imagine how their spaces could look.
Creston Heights 1960’s Office Building
United Commercial Services had a vision for a forgotten building that, many years ago, was a funeral home. The demo revealed layers of wall covering, antique utilities, and a hint of a ghost. But the transformation from a variety of cavernous rooms to a spacious office paid off for UCS. Thanks, Pinnacle Construction for making this happen!
Downtown Dental Office Building
Complete Health Dentistry was already in an urban setting but moved even closer to the downtown area in Grand Rapids on a highly visible corner on the Medical Mile. They trusted r.o.i. Design and First Companies to come up with an interior that would transform this 1980’s space into something that their patients would find appealing. The change was amazing, and the result feels like it is how the space should have always looked.
South East Grand Rapids Office Building
This property was seeing major transitions in their tenant population and was looking to find an anchor tenant to occupy most of the building. Originally the building was a single-user and the entryway was a reception desk. As more businesses moved into the building, it became obsolete.
N.A.I. Wisinski organized a design competition to show the owners what their entry could look like, and r.o.i. Design was selected to design the reimagined space. Removing walls and adding a floating ceiling, along with new finishes, lighting, and furnishings transformed the space. Within nine months, the building gained a major new tenant.
Downtown Grand Rapids Office Building
This historic property has been a desired address for many years, but it had been more than 20 years since the lobby and public restroom were addressed. Tours by potential new tenants were resulting in some negative comments about how the spaces looked. By addressing lighting, flooring, finishes, and furnishings, the natural beauty of the spaces began to shine again.
Over the past few weeks, our team has been learning how to make our spaces safe for the return to work, visits to doctors, and trips to our favorite retailers. We acknowledge solutions presented by suppliers and manufacturers that impact our work in interior design; their products influence our spaces from the air we breathe to the chairs we sit on. Read on to see some of what we’ve learned regarding COVID-19 protection measures and visit our Facebook page throughout the week to get our full take on these solutions.
A building’s filtration in its heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) can be a part of an overall mitigation approach to protect occupants from COVID-19. To reap the full benefits of an HVAC system, cleaning and disinfecting HVAC components, including ductwork, installing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters, and increasing outdoor air ventilation are critical.
WALL COVERINGS AND OTHER SURFACES
We also pulled research on the longevity of the COVID-19 virus on commonly used wall covering materials, and how to effectively eliminate the virus on these surfaces. Today’s manufacturers are integrating antimicrobial technology into interior design elements to keep them cleaner from multiplying bacteria – window shades, paint, door hardware, and faucets. Additionally, the addition of UV lights for more deeply disinfecting the office at night could help to keep walls and other surfaces cleaner.
TEMPORARY WALL PARTITIONS
In addition to pre-existing wall surfaces, temporary wall partitions find relevancy, especially in open offices, to help ease the spreading of viruses. While plexiglass, laminate, or another hard surface has been preferred, those surfaces must be frequently cleaned. Not all fabrics are a good option for the surface of partition, those that are coated or are made specifically to repel moisture would be best. And, while not as attractive, cardboard has been tested and it may be that the virus lives less on cardboard than on plexiglass.
Presented with the problem of maintaining upholstered surfaces in high-traffic and shared spaces, our fabric manufacturers have risen to the challenge and provided, and continue to seek, solutions for safe fabrics. Referencing the EPA’s recommended products for disinfecting, our fabric manufacturers quickly pulled together their resources to help educate us on which materials perform best in an environment that will not require excessive cleaning. Coated fabrics, vinyl, and Crypton meet these standards for cleanability.
Beyond innovations for public and private spaces, the design community is contributing to the solution for your personal space – personal protection equipment. We’ve seen manufacturers and design firms shift their resources and brainpower in response to COVID-19. Fabric manufacturers and independent designers are using their resources to create face masks, and many donate face coverings for each mask purchased.
No one solution protects us completely and it will be a combination of behaviors and tools that gets us through this time. We look forward to more virus testing, and then, of course, the vaccine.