A technology consulting company focused on the classroom, Communications by Design (CBD) recently moved into their new offices on Sparks Drive in Grand Rapids. CBD Consulting provides solutions and services to help their clients create innovative, transformational learning environments that are supported and inspired by technology in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
While their new office is the workplace for consultants, engineers, and administrators, it is also a laboratory, classroom, and learning lab for teachers. CBD asked that their offices reflect their technical style, so r.o.i. Design included several details using cable. They describe the training as taking the teacher on a journey, so using birch plywood, we created a row of columns leading the visitor from the entry to the classroom. They asked us to keep the design light and inviting, with flexible spaces for multiple uses.
Some of the architectural design features include polished concrete floors, open metal ceiling decks with organic ceiling clouds, and a partially-covered outdoor deck. Finishes include neutrals with pops of orange and green, clusters of small hanging lights create the illusion of one big light, and a custom designed community table which features a laminate wood top and u-shaped bases.
Maybe it’s because we attended NeoCon this month, or maybe
because we have so many projects going on where we are being asked to help
create the optimum plan, but we are amazed by the positive impact of
r.o.i. Design subscribes to a process for office programming
that requires teamwork. The architect and contractor have to be willing to take
the time at the beginning of a project to engage the user with thoughtful
questions, even before walls are drawn on a plan.
We like to meet with owners and stakeholders and set out a
plan to have meetings, with all levels of employees, where we ask them
questions about their perception of the structure of their company, how they
work together, the constraints of their current office and their hopes and
fears of the “new” space.
We are hearing from our customers the importance of meeting and collaborative spaces with a willingness to compromise on the personal space to get more “together” space.
The open office concept is tough and more and more companies are looking for ways to give staff visual and acoustic privacy without burying everyone in tall walls
We respond to the meetings with a summary and the beginning
of a program. The program is a list of room names and areas along with some
estimated square footage requirements.
It is easy to forget to include adequate storage or
secondary hospitality areas for the quick cup of coffee or refreshing the water
bottle. The program also includes the circulation space, which can be between
30 and 35% of the entire square footage needed. The smaller the space the
larger the percentage.
Circulation space is typically where the non-planned meetings occur, so r.o.i. Design likes to design a little more room around some corridor intersections to encourage those conversations. Stair landing and coffee pots are also where productive exchanges happen “by chance”. This buffer square footage is typically eaten up over time by growth, and the cycle continues.
The written program calculates total square footage needed and from that build out budgets are imagined. Typically, at this point, the user looks at spaces and has the hard task of deciding between needs and wants, but more importantly trying to think about growth.
After a written program is approved, bubble plans are created. A bubble plan is the beginning of physical planning, no hard walls but just circles of areas proportionate to the program. This is where department and resource adjacencies are tested out for users review. Sometimes at this stage, there is a building footprint that has to be considered, and the bubble plan works within it to assist architecture in planning for entries, stairs, and windows.
Depending on the type of end user, management sometimes
engages more of their staff in the process to review bubble plans and early
plans to bring everyone along.
Planning for a new space is a huge management opportunity. Not only can managers find ways to recognize staff and address their workspace concerns, but they can also often engage them in performance improvement and branding ideas. Change is rough, but if more of the people who are going to be impacted by the change are involved at some level in planning, they are able to process for themselves what is expected of them and can contribute energies and ideas to make transitions easier.
It is at this point in the design that hard-line plans are created, walls, ceilings, etc. r.o.i. Design is sometimes introduced to a plan and project at this point, and in some cases, if there wasn’t programming completed initially, the process of interior design could trigger some plan changes. And no one likes going backwards in planning.
r.o.i. Design is involved in creating spaces, but in reality, we are creating business improvements through design, and programming is the first step to understanding what those improvements need to be.
NeoCon, the world’s leading expo of commercial design, took
place last month, June 10 – 12, in Chicago. Three designers from r.o.i Design
attended this year, Mary Witte, Ryan Bright, and Megan Hoekzema. We travelled
down to the Windy City for a day to see what’s new in office design and take in
the overall trends.
After walking around NeoCon, it became apparent the colors that were changing in furniture and design. White and gray are old news!
Now there are shades of pink, emerald green, deep blue, and
a sea of taupes and tans. The shift in
the color trends are being used to promote a home-like feeling and give people
an environment that can foster creativity and comfort.
Notable was the Behr showroom, where they unveiled their
2020 Color Trends palette. According to Interiors+Sources,
Behr was showing a “balanced mix of grounding shades, energizing bright
color, deep accent hues and atmospheric pastels.”
Other trends we saw at NeoCon and referenced by Interior+Sources:
A palette called Worldhood, which is ideal for the hospitality industry, offering depth and brightness and deepen the warmth of the space. These colors are inspired by the natural rugged landscapes and rustic tones seen by exotic travels.
Another category is Restore which exemplifies serenity. These colors aim to provide restorative qualities and balance. Blues and greens create a soothing sanctuary and celebrate the outdoor environment.
The last category of colors is Atmospheric. These colors are subtle pastels and neutrals and are ideal for modern and traditional environments.
It’s definitely time to play with a different range of
colors. We are already seeing the shift in our projects.
Do you love the open office environment, but sometimes struggle
with the need for a quiet spot to get a project done, have a private
conversation, or just have a moment by yourself?
While trends in office space planning are moving towards no
walls and open spaces, the reality is that most people sometimes need an area
which is peaceful and private, where they aren’t interrupted.
The open office isn’t going away
because it has proven to be great for managing by overhearing, training the new
hire, and collaboration. It also helps the growing company be flexible as they
need to add or move employees without calling a contractor and building more
So, how are offices balancing the need to be together but
“apart”? Our annual trip to NeoCon proved that manufactures are paying
attention to their customers’ open office needs. We saw lots of creative ways
to get a moment of isolation, while still being “available”.
This year the drapery curtain showed up in several showrooms, turning the cubicle walls into a framework that allows for a curtain to be drawn for full separation, or just some. Herman Miller created a lounge in their open office using a giant red velvet curtain and globe lights. Groovy!
There were also a lot of “pods”,
little rooms that manufacturers are now offering as part of the line of
furniture. You buy this tiny room and place it within the open office and plug
it in for power and ventilation.
There were canopies, lids and cones
of all shapes and sizes that aim to keep your voice from traveling to the next.
There was one we called “the cone of silence” that you can pull down around a
So, don’t hate the open office, it doesn’t have to make you
frustrated. You just need to get creative with some relief spaces!
Jacob Miller, DDS had purchased a property that offered
better street exposure and room for his growing dental practice. The new space
allowed for an adequate waiting area, consult room, administrative spaces, six
to seven operatories, Pan-Ceph X-Ray, storage, employee entrance, lockers, and
a breakroom. But that meant it need to be remodeled.
With the help from r.o.i Design, the new interiors reflect a
space that is natural and modern. We set out to make the office distinctly
welcoming, crisp, and clean. We utilized contrasting light and dark paint
colors, darker wood floors, wallcovering, stone accents and a custom reception
desk. The environment is ideal for any patient.
In addition, r.o.i Design was able to provide the new lobby
furniture. The pieces play well with the interior finishes that we specified,
making the space very cohesive.
We congratulate our clients who recently had ribbon cuttings and are enjoying their new spaces. These include C.B.D. Consulting (Dixon Architecture and First Companies), Miller Dental (Dixon Architecture and DAR Development), West Michigan Dermatology (R2Design and First Companies), and more! Stay tuned for articles with more information on these exciting projects.
Our next projects to be complete are in the final phase of design. This means we are answering questions that come up at the job site, making any reselections based on budget or lead time issues, and supporting the process through review and consult. Here are some updates on the projects in the final phase.
This is a great new corporate office for this dynamic, young company who is currently busting at the seams in their current office. They wanted a neutral scheme with a POP! This includes very cool light fixtures, and of course, really cool furnishings. We are working with Dixon Architecture and Dykhouse Construction, and this project will be complete in early summer.
Mill Steel Job Progress Photos
United Commercial Services (UCS)
Our friends at UCS bought an older building and are gutting it to create a new, fresh and functional office for their crew; offices as well as a warehouse. Designing for a commercial cleaning company is interesting. We learned a lot about what truly maintainable finishes are. We are working with Lott3Metz Architecture and Pinnacle Construction, and this project will be complete just about the time the kids go back to school!
UCS Job Progress Photos
West Michigan Pediatric Dentistry
With over 500 people visiting their office a day, including parents and siblings, these energetic docs were ready to create a new space that was able to house their busy, busy practice. Gaining some efficiencies and creating more patient comforts were top priorities. No dinosaurs or primary colors here, just warm relaxing fun. The new office includes three kids’ holding areas, a generous open hygiene area, private treatment rooms, and consulting rooms. When it is finished, there will be a model train running throughout the office!
West Michigan Pediatric Dentistry Concept Renderings