Designer Forum - December 2010

By Tami Bopp

 

Over the past ten years, our architecture and interior design firm, Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford, has seen marvelous growth. And during that growth period, we were fortunate to have our offices in one of Fort Worth’s most historic buildings—a converted church with spectacular architectural elements. Through the years, our office had become a defining part of who we were as an organization, while also serving as the home for our local American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter. So it was bittersweet when our space requirements exceeded the building’s capacity.

At first, we worked through the space issues by leasing an adjacent building as an annex. However, this arrangement created numerous logistics issues, and by 2009 it proved to be an unworkable situation. The firm decided it would need to make a move to an office that could meet current needs, as well as accommodate future growth. Even in this soft commercial real estate market, finding a space that had the historic charm of the converted church proved elusive. So we concentrated on finding a space that would meet our needs, while providing a layout that our interior design team could work wonders with.

Within a few months, we found a suitable space, an office building designed in the 1980s that had been used as a showroom for an interior decorating firm. With steep angles and an open floor plan, it offered numerous architectural focal points, as well as providing a blank canvas for our interior design team’s vision. 

Though we were creating a space for our firm, we took the same approach that we use with our clients. We examined what our space needs would be in the short and long term, and we analyzed the ways we could be more productive as a company—all the while encouraging creativity. Our discussions were thought provoking and brought us together as a firm. We developed goals for the project that we believed would ensure a seamless and positive transition for everyone, while also creating a more productive space to work in. In short, we wanted our new space to accomplish the following things: become a showcase for potential clients; reflect a certain image and culture to clients and employees; induce team collaboration and function efficiently; and work within our firm’s budget and an extremely tight timeframe. 

Our clientele is diverse. We sought to provide a space that would be comfortable to both our faith-based and education clients, as well as corporate law firms and real estate brokers. We are a Fort Worth-based firm, but we also compete for projects throughout the Southwest. As an architecture and interior design firm, it is important for us to have a space that shows off not only the firm’s culture, but our talent as well. 

Since budget was important, we needed to create a dynamic space with minimal costs. This is where the angled walls and open floor plan would come into play. We could use these angles in creative ways to enhance the floor plan. The cost would be minimal, the impact extraordinary. Another aspect of our “showcase” would be to include the different products that we might specify in our clients’ projects—essentially creating an interior design showroom within our office that included textured accent walls, lighting, stone material, laminates, and a multitude of flooring materials.

We have a variety of zones in our new space that require different flooring materials. In our multipurpose room, we selected Teknoflor Series Two Natural Wood Collection, a no-wax sheet vinyl which we use a lot in high-traffic areas for faith based work and healthcare projects. We selected bamboo flooring in our main lobby space to showcase a warm, inviting look and emphasize our commitment to renewable products. Multiple carpet selections were used to define different activities for meeting areas, private work zones and open office work zones. This is often the look we develop for our clients as well.

It was important to us that the new space be a working office, not a museum or cold environment. Our previous office had a lot of warmth and character. The new space is more of a typical office, its strongest benefit being that its wrap-around windows provide a lot of natural light, something we did not previously have. 

We decided that it would be important to allow every employee access to the vast window area that surrounded the entire space. It was determined this could become a theme to our layout. Though it might be a culture shock at first, over the long-term it would foster productivity and personal interaction among the staff, in addition to our clients. One of our challenges with an open plan was to divide up the flooring. We selected two carpet tiles for the open office area that were companion pieces but on different scales. This helped to define the traffic pattern and scale of the space.

In our previous space, we were segregated due to the lack of space and the type of building we were occupying. Going forward, it was important for us to emphasize the project team. The layout of the space allowed us to design team “pods” of four people with a meeting table in the center. Against the backdrop of the natural light, this encourages spontaneous meetings and staff interaction. Using lower workstation panels provides workspace privacy, while allowing employees to view the surrounding exterior when standing up. The new layout also requires a different storage solution. Each workstation is provided with a tower that allows garment storage and additional filing. 

Due to the lease arrangement, we had approximately six weeks to complete our build-out process. That meant that we needed to use as much in-stock product as possible, since we didn’t have time to special order. Where this issue affected us the most was in flooring. The challenge was finding carpet that fulfilled our design aesthetics, budget and time requirements without reselecting all of our other materials. 

In the end, we used carpet tiles, which included Bolyu’s Dhurrie Remix, for our meeting spaces, Lees Carpets’ Parkway and Mast in our open office area, and J+J/Invision’s Edge II broadloom for our private office spaces. We started with three different carpets, but due to the speed with which we needed to complete the project, we ended up with four. Teragren Signature Bamboo Flooring was installed throughout the space at an angle, to create more dynamic energy. Using existing furniture and creating an accent wall from preformed panels also helped add dynamic impact to the space. The result is a seamless transition that blends all of the design elements together. 

Finally, like many architecture firms, we have several professionals who are also accomplished artists. By showcasing their artwork, we created focal points throughout the office, which also serve as conversation pieces with clients and visitors. These finishing touches completed the look we were after.

Since the space we selected was a second-generation office space that had been occupied by a tenant who moved upstairs, we definitely needed to change the look and create an identity all our own. At the end of the day, we feel that we transformed the space into something special that epitomizes the “form and function” aesthetic. Most importantly, we succeeded in designing a floor plan that our employees can be proud of, bringing out the spirit of our firm, both in terms of who we are today and who we aspire to be in the future.

Interior design is a balancing act. To ensure each project’s success, a designer’s plan for the space must reflect the personality of the organization or client, while enabling multiple tasks, like maximizing functionality and efficiency of the space. Creating the perfect environment for a client is always a challenge, but creating the perfect space for your own firm is the ultimate challenge. 

Copyright 2010 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Retail Sales Flat in July   Full Article
Retail Sales were flat in July as car demand slowed and consumers remained cautious in their spending. This is the weakest performance in six months.

Mortgage Application Volume Down Last Week   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as both purchase and refinancing applications declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Valinge Awarded Another U.S. Patent   Full Article
Viken, Sweden, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Valinge said it has been awarded a U.S. patents regarding mechanical locking of LVT/resilient floorboards.

Another Investment Firm Discloses Armstrong Position   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Another investment firm has disclosed a large position in the shares of Armstrong World Industries.

Home Price Increases Continue To Moderate   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Home-price growth continued to moderate in many metropolitan areas in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Domotex Turkey 2015 Set for May   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Aug. 12, 2014 -- The dates for Domotex Turkey 2015 are May 25-28 at the Turkish carpet trading capital, Gaziantep.

Job Openings Edge Higher in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Job openings increased to 4.67 million in June, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ceramic Tile Standards Subject of Gathering in SC   Full Article
Clemson, SC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- International trade and standards for ceramic tile were the focus of discussions as delegates from 15 countries met in Clemson to develop new standards.

Propex Marks 50th Anniversary of Polybac   Full Article
Hazlehurst, GA, Aug. 11, 2014 -- Propex recently celebrated a significant milestone for the carpet industry at its Hazlehurst manufacturing facility.

Realtors Applaud FICO Calculation Changes   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 11, 2014 -- The National Association of Realtors said it supports the decision of Fair Issac to make some changes related to how it calculates FICO credit scores.

CRI's Seal of Approval Certifies Several Products   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Aug. 11, 2014 -- The Carpet and Rug Institute's Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning supplies and equipment has certified several products.

Wholesale Inventories Rise in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 8, 2014 -- Wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in June, the same as the previous month, according to the Commerce Department.

Retail Credit May Come Easier for Many Borrowers   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 8, 2014 -- Obtaining retail credit could come easier for millions of Americans following a change in how the most widely used credit score is calculated

Carpet One Members Hear Two Famous Speakers   Full Article
Grapevine, TX, Aug. 8, 2014 -- Carpet One Floor & Home members gathered this week to network with their fellow store members and receive updates on new products and programs.

Mats Inc. Flooring a Finalist in USGBC Program   Full Article
Stoughton, MA, Aug. 8, 2014 -- Purline flooring by Mats Inc. has been named a finalist in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Best of Building Awards 2014 in two categories.

More Markets Returning to Normal in Housing   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014 -- Markets in 56 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the second quarter.

Builder Confidence Grows in Senior Housing   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014 -- Builder confidence in the single-family senior housing market for the second quarter is up year over year, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Initial Jobless Claims Fall Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 to 289,000 in the week ending Aug. 2, according to the Labor Department.

Investment Firm Takes Significant Stake in Armstrong   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 7, 2014 -- San Francisco investment firm ValueAct Capital now owns 16.8% of Armstrong World Industries' common stock.

Surya Breaks Ground on Cartersville Headquarters   Full Article
Cartersville, GA, Aug. 7, 2014 -- Rug company Surya held a groundbreaking ceremony for its $33.5 million, 1-million-square-foot warehouse and headquarters facility in Cartersville.