ID Studio's design for Swinerton Builders

By Deborah Elliott

 

Swinerton Builders is a nationally recognized commercial general contractor formed in 1888 with 13 regional offices in the western half of the United States. When Swinerton approached ID Studios to reinvent its San Diego office, the firm had already selected a one-story, 24,000 square foot uninspired warehouse with a tired exterior and no clear entry. A renovation was clearly required and brought an exciting challenge for the entire team.

The goals for the space were to create a creative, energetic and positive work experience as well as an ergonomic and flexible one to maximize employee comfort and create a high level of efficiency. Swinerton also wanted the new space to reflect its strong green initiatives and construction capabilities and, due to its longevity, highlighting its history and breadth of work was critical.

Flooring played a role in fulfilling all of these goals. Not only did it help solidify the design, but also a change in flooring, or flooring pattern, created a sense of space. In this project, it added to the experience by giving visitors a tactile way to interact with the design and created impact through contrast in addition to adding visual wayfinding cues. 

SETTING A TONE
The drab exterior was an obvious starting point. A new, uniquely angled, glass-wrapped, entry-box structure was added, drawing the visitor to an intuitive entry point. The new entry structure rises above the existing building parapet to provide visual hierarchy to the entry.

Once in the high-volume lobby, the visitor is greeted with a display of bright yellow and white hardhats, which punctuates the reception area, creating a distinctive deconstructed art piece unique to the construction industry. Shaw’s yellow-banded Vertical Edge carpet tile was introduced as an extension of this theme, encouraging the visitor to step into the art. 

The placement of flooring can be used to draw the visitors in and lead them through the interior. Daltile’s Green Squared Certified P’Zazz colorbody porcelain tile in Gray Shimmer greets visitors at the entrance, while a ribbon of the same tile in Black Drama slices across the floor, around the reception desk and up a 15’ branded feature wall. The ribbon of tile is used to focus the eye on the reception desktop, which in turn leads them to the horizontal accents of the branding wall. From there the yellow band in the carpet leads visitors toward the conference room.

Passing through the hallway, the main conference room immediately comes into view as the focal point of the interior, with its bold orange cantilevered ceiling structure taking center stage. Cutouts above expose a trellis-like row of galvanized framing studs held up by a series of rugged concrete-wrapped columns, which exude a sense of strength and allude to the hidden, yet vitally important, nature of the construction industry.

ANCIENT INSPIRATION, MODERN DESIGN
One challenge that ID Studios had to overcome was how to create an open design in a high-volume space with a program that required many enclosed offices. Inspiration for the main offices was drawn from an image of Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado with the early culture’s cubist-like arrangement of square houses of varying heights built under the high ceilings of the natural caves. We felt the neighborhood-like arrangement reflected the vibrant activity and community of a busy construction firm. 

Offices were arranged in a similar fashion. Private offices were turned askew to each other, and interior walls were not allowed to extend to the roof deck, with varying sidelights and gypsum board eyebrow soffits to further enhance the cubist-like variation of the inspiration.

Throughout the main office, the yellow-banded carpet first found in the lobby is repeated, turning this design feature into a helpful visual cue to define circulation paths and lead visitors through the space. 

The carpet design created for the open office space is an elaborate mirrored pattern of 18”x36” tiles, while private offices are defined by a different mix running perpendicular to the open office. This brings the total number of different tiles used in the project to five: Shaw Vertical Edge Tiles in Ochre Verge and Gunmetal Verge, Merge Tiles in Ochre Verge and Gunmetal Verge, and finally Minimal Tile in Verge.

The carpet tile provided the opportunity for endless functional and design possibilities. Defining the start point of this complex mix of carpet was critical to the overall success of the pattern, requiring the sales representative, general contractor and designer to work hand-in-hand with the installer throughout the process to ensure a proper finished product. The result was a beautifully coordinated backdrop to the furniture and color accents that marry successfully to the overall design.

The office finishes off with a flexible entertainment/break area full of amenities—including a TV/gaming area, high-top bar, casual meeting spaces, outdoor garden and barbeque area—which is separated from the office by a pair of garage doors, creating a visual connection between the spaces and allowing the spaces to co-mingle. The entertainment area is defined by a subtle pattern of two sizes of Caesar’s Ecolabel-certified Absolute porcelain floor tile in Beola Bianca. Directly adjacent is a bright, spacious kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, which is even further differentiated by an inset of the same tile in the color Dark Moon. Storefront glass doors lead from the entertainment area to a citrus-lined garden designed for entertaining employees and guests alike.

GREEN INITIATIVES
Swinerton’s goal was to design to LEED Gold standards and net-zero energy consumption, not only for the environmental concerns surrounding the construction but also to demonstrate to its clientele that sustainable design can be beautiful. Several strategies were put in place to reflect this sensibility.

It started with the selection of the site and scope of the project. The firm selected a location directly adjacent to a freeway park-and-ride and carpool entry/exit. And, after much discussion, the team elected to reuse the existing structure in lieu of demolishing and starting over. 

Although tile is utilized in the appropriate settings and Centiva’s FloorScore and GreenGuard certified Contour vinyl plank in Strand Bamboo makes an appearance in the mailroom, the majority of flooring needs were met with carpet tiles. In order to address the sustainability of that material, Shaw’s cradle-to-cradle practices were taken into account, including its standard low VOC, high performance EcoWorx backing, the industry’s first fully sustainable, non-PVC carpet tile backing. 

Lighting is always an issue in an office space. The lighting design was created to consume as little energy as possible and integrated with the entire office by using other features of the design, such as paint color and private office ceiling selections. Many other materials make up the design, and natural and recycled materials were used throughout, including recycled glass countertops and pressboard on cabinets and millwork walls. FSC-certified products and low-VOC paints, glues and adhesives were specified in all areas, and reclaimed barnwood was used liberally, including the reception area desk, branding walls and other free-standing, low-height partitions.

In an effort to remain continually sustainable, a 75-kilowatt, roof-mounted solar photovoltaic array offsets 100% of the building’s energy consumption. In the Sustainability Lab, energy generation versus usage is tracked and monitored for this office and multiple client facilities across the country. Results are displayed on a series of flat screens, easily viewable by passersby. An additional photovoltaic array was installed on a structure composed of frameless solar panels, which create power for electric car charging stations near the rear building entry and provide shade for the back patio.

The result creates high praise from the occupants, “Not only did we reduce our operating expenses, we are now working in a very bright, high-energy, high-collaboration environment,” said Christopher Day, vice president of Swinerton Builders.

Overall, the building has become a model for the commercial real estate industry on the repositioning of underperforming assets, while providing a work environment that is committed to energy savings and creative design to enhance employee satisfaction. It not only reflects the personality of Swinerton Builders but also strikes a balance between sustainability, technology and a modern, vital work environment, which connects to both its diverse team and client base.

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus



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