Monday, September 8, 2014

Reinforcing Brand: A Lounge Area and Welcoming Oasis

     Recently completed, this lounge space, now opens up to a work area at National Life Group off of an elevator lobby, serving a larger work neighborhood intersection.
     It provides a welcoming respite from a busy shared hallway, while providing a place to sit and relax waiting for appointments or a location to have some quiet away time from nearby workstations.
     Note the overhead color shifting LED marquee light in the ceiling mounted way finding element.  It provides a continuous slow color shifting to brighten up this important intersection, while providing variety of moods through color.
     See also the suspended 3Form Varia Eco-Resin panels tiling in a Mondrian like pattern to provide separation from nearby work areas.  The real transparent leaves interlaid sandwiched between two clear acrylic resin panels and flame edged with wire suspension and metal hardware.
      The low modular planter boxes provide rich exposure to interior plantings which exude oxygen and nature's richness.  Seating by Herman Miller, sourced through Creative Office Pavilion out of Burlington, headquartered in Boston, Mass. Woodwork and resin panel fabrication and installation by Amoskeag Woodworking. Color shifting light from Delray Lighting.  Eco-friendly modular carpet flooring is Powerbond by Tandus.
     Painted wall colors, upholstery, lighting, plants and other finishes all reinforce the company's brand color palette while underscoring their company wide mission, brand and value set.  All interior finishes were selected and installed with low-voc, environmentally friendly materials, vegetation and recyclable, reusable when and where possible.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Civitas in Our Downtowns

Walking recently around and visiting Newburyport, Massachusetts a few weekends ago I thought of a word I don't normally think of. Ever heard of the latin word Civitas? Civitas is a latin word meaning "a body of citizens who constitute a state, especially a city-state, commonwealth or the like". It also means "citizenship, especially as imparting shared responsibility, a common purpose, and a sense of community.
Newburyport's small scale walkable seaside downtown exemplifies a place teeming with a sense of community or civitas.There's a strong vibe there hard to pin down with words like comfortable, social, textural, pedestrian friendly, authentic, civic and most importantly livable, coming to mind when trying to define such an intangible idea.
It's where place and space commingle with a clear sense of identity through a variety of factors. In short, it's what many cities and towns seek to create by their community wide efforts to cultivate a strong, successful and vibrant downtown.
To create and then cultivate civitas requires a multi-faceted approach to community design with a long term view. It takes shared commitment from everyday citizens, elected officials, community business leaders and organizations, architects, landscape architects, planners, school systems and more. It's a additive process requiring being in relationship to your community, taking responsibility by participating, volunteering, helping out.
Sometimes you need to go away and visit somewhere else to learn to truly appreciate what you have close to home and not take if for granted. I live in Montpelier, Vermont an inland city bisected by two rivers which also happens to be our state capital. It too is a livable pedestrian friendly city with a strong and vibrant downtown, great local shops and lovely quirky Vermonter's. (note the car with the single headlight in the below picture)
Visiting Newburyport renewed by appreciation of where I live and how grateful I am to be part of our community. In the coming year, I promise to strongly cultivate that relationship by giving more of my time to our city. It truly matters.
Do you live iin a city with a downtown like Newburyport or Montpelier? What are some reasons it is unique and special? Are there shared characteristics which small cities with great downtowns share?
#Design #Architecture #Community (originally published on LinkedIn 8/21/14)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our Work Future: Sociability, Workplace and Technology

Last week I attended "The Future of Work" hosted by the Vermont Human Resources Association and supported by Champlain College. This is the partner article to the one I wrote last week; "The Future of Work: Moore's Law and Emotional Courage" here on LinkedIn and elsewhere.
Chuck Manisacalo, VP of Strategic Development from Champlain College set the stage for Owen Milne, Corporate Accounts and Integrated Interiors Manager at Red Thread, by talking about the greater historical context of work, workers and the workplace. He shared some great insight in how quickly things change and especially pointed out key qualities needed for tomorrow's workforce.
This second part is tough because it's closer to what I do every day, designing physical places and spaces all the while integrating with ever-changing organizational, social and technological concerns. It's dizzying but yet at the end of the day, completely inspiring. Last week I wrote about how we in our work today spend a greater amount of our time in digital space as well as working in physical space in our offices, workplaces, and schools. Owen really hit that point home looking into the future of the workplace and its design.
Milne dovetailed with Manisacalo's introduction and overview of key trends and shifts in the workplace, by asking a hard question,
"What is our work future knowing we face dizzying technological change, globalization and the demand to optimize collaboration all the while humanizing a workplace run rampant by the incessant demands of hyper-active online sociability?" I took the weekend to reflect on his questions, his pointed suggestions and the possibilities he shared.
He used the above iconic image from 2002's "Minority Report" of Tom Cruise manipulating the information stream on his digital everchanging case file display, the continuing need to humanize the user's experience with technology helping to enhance collaboration, whether physical or digital or somewhere inbetween. Seemingly far-fetched then, twelve years later this technology is available in rudimentary handsfree forms.
As we shift away from knowledge based [traditional transactional work and work settings] towards someplace else a humanized [ authentic] (my add) experience remains critical, emphasizing sociability and connectivity. As Tom Friedman said in his article quoted in last week's article, in adapting forward, we must "seek to be complementary to technology rather than struggle against it." [I paraphrase].

The Future of Work: Moore's Law and Emotional Courage

A few days ago, on August 13th, I heard some compelling ideas and statistics about the Future of Work, Workers and Workplace. Chuck Maniscalco, VP for Strategic Initiatives for Champlain College and Owen Milne of Red Thread , Manager for Corporate Accounts and Integrated Interiors spoke tag team style at a learning event hosted by the Vermont's Human Resources Association at Burlington's Hilton hotel. Chuck spoke about the big picture and over-arching concepts, provided historical context. Owen illustrated key areas where the workplace will dramatically evolve in its conception, design and operation in years to come.
The session left me with two huge takeaways and the courage to change. The two concepts, the importance of Moore's Law and Emotional Courage deeply connected with me framing what I share here.
Getting to Moore's Law: Chuck gave a brief overview of the history of culture and work. He began with hunter gatherers, moved quickly into the agrarian age, building of civilization and cultural systems, transitioning then to the industrial age of mid 19 to 20th centuries, and finally into the Information age of the mid 20th century to the 1980's, and to the present ever shifting Internet Age. He shared how over the arc of this journey, the rapidity of technological change and transformation sped up, leading to the last 30 years or so and Moore's Law, an irrepressible force for disruptive change in all aspects of life, work and play.
Moore's Law: "The number of transistors incorporated into a chip will approximately double every 24 months." Gordon Moore, a founder of Intel identified this phenomenon early on in the development of the semi-conductor chip. It's perseverance continues today despite it's periodical naysayers. Why is it important to our Future Work? I believe like Manisacalo and Milne, Moore's Law shapes the important skills needed for success today and tomorrow at work.
But first some facts from Manisacalo about the accelerating explosion of possibility happening around us due to this information revolution:
  • Day in and day out 2.5 quintillion bytes/ day of totally new data occur.
  • 90% of all data in the world was created in the last 2 years.
  • Within the next 18 months, 40% of the world's population will have a computer be it a smartphone, more prevalent than refrigerators.
  • Today's iPhone has 240,000 more times computing power than the Voyager 1 Spacecraft.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In the News - Our Creative Corner article "Mission Driven Design and Vermont Business"

Recently we wrote an article focusing on the power of mission driven design to help accelerate not just Vermont businesses but others sharing similar mindsets.  Read on.  We hope it's helpful.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Introverts and Extroverts Together: Creating Balanced Office Designs That Work

Susan Cain's landmark book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world That Can't Stop Talking" andTed Talk, now viewed well over 8,000,000 times and counting, cracked open a much needed discussion in boardrooms, office coolers and coworking hubsaround the world. Plainly her work and words struck a chord.
Taking on an extroverted personae in today's business world has for too long been equated with being successful and powerful, while introversion being associated with quiet, overly sensitive, reflective, indecisive and less effective natures. Cain's research upends these cultural proclivities or dispositions glorifying the extroverted at the expense of the introverted.
And as Cain writes the loudest and most visible aren't always the one's with the best opinions, information or ability to make decisions on behalf of an organization or business. Often times it's the quiet, reflective, slow to judgement types which have the more accurate information and may in fact have better yet quieter leadership skills.
Unfortunately the last ten years has not been too kind to the quiet types. A perfect storm of new technologies flattening how we communicate within and outside the workplace, a devastating worldwide recession, real estate forces compressing individual work area from 200 square feet to just over 100 square feet or less has taken a toll.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ten Evergreen Office Design Ideas

A Front Yard Area at National Life Group 
With multiple generations at work spanning the rising Z-generation, Millennials, Gen-Y and Gen-X to baby boomers, paying attention to your office or workplace design and operation is more important than ever. Wny not embed design and operational strategies which seed collaboration, innovation and high performance over the long haul?                     

While it's not easy there are ways to design and conceive with these goals in mind. This kind of office design integrates work processes, architectural design, space planning, individual and group work settings, furniture along with technology, serving overarching business mission, brand and values. It’s hard work and demands constant organizational engagement over time to get it right and keep the physical resources aligned with organizational needs..But if you're committed to long term business success these evergreen office design ideas are well worth considering.

Consider the following ideas in the design of the enduring high performing workplace. We have adapted them from a number of sources as well as recent project experiences from our practice with small to large businesses here in Vermont, across finance, green energy, consumer products and insurance industries.