Designer Forum - June 2013

Designer Forum From June 2013

By Wendy Gray

 

When Foresight Energy decided to relocate its corporate headquarters from Palm Beach, Florida to St. Louis, Missouri, it asked Gray Design Group to create its new 20,000 square foot facility in the Metropolitan Square office building.

The design direction from Foresight was to convey the broader story of coal and the intricate supply chain both above and below ground. Many months of research and learning about state-of-the-art mining operations fueled the design process as well as brand development. The results of Gray’s efforts and those of the locally commissioned artist continue to delight Foresight’s clients, employees and investors.

The design story begins immediately after stepping off the elevator lobby as one enters the glass encapsulated reception area. The vaulted ceiling structure, complete with actual mining mesh, replicates the top of a mineshaft roof, with the actual bolts and structural steel supports used underground. The main flooring in the lobby area is a field of limestone planks with a custom inset area “rug” made from rubber conveyor belts used to transport coal out of the mines and up onto the earth’s surface above. Stainless steel bands were used to complete the flooring transition and illustrate the depths of the coal seams below. 

The reception desk is clad in a whitewashed rift-sawn oak and a unique metal cloud floats above the desk, diffusing the down lights, creating a lighting pattern reminiscent of the lanterns on coal miner’s helmets.
The story continues with a 20 foot long coal-like water feature designed to illustrate life below ground. The feature wall is made from faux stone, and the reflections therein symbolize the nuances of color subtly illuminated by the light levels within a mineshaft.

Before leaving the reception area, a 12-screen video wall offers visitors a video tour behind the scenes of the mining process and outlines the benefits of coal as a clean fuel source. The feature wall is surrounded with 1/8” thick cold rolled steel emulating the massive heavy-duty equipment used in the mining extraction process.

The offices and corridors off the lobby use broadloom carpet as the predominant flooring type; however, several areas utilize Interface carpet tile pre-cut at the factory into triangles to emulate the client logo and provide durability in higher wear areas. Throughout the tour sequence of the offices, photography is strategically located to create areas of interest to further tell the story and continue the education process of visitors and coal veterans alike. 

The boardroom is a showstopper. In addition to the magnificent views of the St Louis riverfront and Gateway Arch from the 27th floor, Foresight has a bird’s eye view of its river barge operations. A custom designed and constructed 30’ conference table is comprised of leather and stone, and a unique stainless steel trough running the length of the table is filled with coal chunks extracted from Foresight’s West Virginia mining location. State-of-the-art technology powers the table, allowing for large format video conferencing and Internet access. A specially designed iPhone application allows for user-friendly access to all of the controls for the room, from lighting and shade control to communication with offsite underground operations. The flooring in the room is aptly named Energy and is manufactured by Atlas Carpet. The unique circular pattern mimics the etched pattern of the mine’s sidewalls.

Art abounds throughout the facility. A custom map of the world highlighting the firm’s mining locations and shipping routes hangs outside the boardroom and was created by sewing together layers of gently used coal miner’s denim work pants and tan coveralls, complete with zippers and snap fasteners.

Beyond the offices, public areas, private offices, meeting rooms and workstations benefit from the daylight that floods the entire office from three sides of the building. Structural glass walls were used extensively in these rooms, as well as panels between workstations to allow for an uninterrupted flow of light and a feeling of openness. Additionally, Metropolitan Square is a smart building, and most of the lighting is connected to sensors that automatically turn off or on depending on the level of activity in a sensor area. Not only is this good for the entire planet but it also helps to control rising electrical costs.

Because of the unique footprint of the building, opportunities were taken when planning the employee lounge/break area. The southwest facing dining room, complete with lounge seating and multiple flat screen TVs, overlooks Busch Stadium, making for a comfortable respite around the clock. Above the backlit island food bar are several suspended curved acrylic floating panels to provide interest and scale to the space. Polished ceramic tiles with a glitter-like mica effect were specified for durability and ease of maintenance behind the work counters. Flooring in the café is a porcelain tile by Caesar, rectangular in format and featured in a warm toned concrete coloration with a glitter effect. Artwork in the staff lounge, featuring miners in heroic poses, is recessed into the wall and accent lit by actual miner’s hats above each large-scale photograph.

The color palette Foresight chose to pursue for the entire office was reminiscent of the blue sky and sandy beaches from where it came. The neutral stones, laminates and upholstery generate a quiet backdrop for the striking contrast that showcases the story of coal, the likes of which so few ever are able to see. This office truly illustrates “one man’s floor is another man’s ceiling.”

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Unemployment Falls but August Job Gains Muted   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Employers in the U.S. added 142,000 jobs in August, the lowest monthly total of the year, according to the Labor Department.

Horizon Floors Signs Denver Hardwoods   Full Article
New York, NY, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Horizon Floors has a distribution agreement with Denver Hardwoods.

Invista Surfaces Makes Executive Promotions   Full Article
Kennesaw, GA, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Invista Surfaces has promoted Maggie Bidlingmaier to vice president of its residential business.

Gerflor Becomes Starnet Approved Vendor   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Resilient flooring firm Gerflor said it has attained approved vendor status in Starnet.

USG Signs Private Label Agreement With Powerhold   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- USG Corporation said it has entered a private-label agreement with Powerhold, the largest flooring accessories distributor network in the country.

Shaw Ranked Fourth on E-learning List   Full Article
Dalton, GA. Sept. 5, 2014 -- Shaw Industries ranked fourth on E-learning! magazine’s Learning! 100.

H.B. Fuller Acquires ProSpec Construction Products   Full Article
St. Paul, MN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- H.B. Fuller Company said it has acquired ProSpec Construction Products, a provider of tile and stone installation products.

Builder Hovnanian Says Income Doubled   Full Article
Red Bank, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises reported third quarter net income of $17.1 million, or $0.11 a share, up from $8.5 million, or $0.06 a share, a year earlier.

Services Sector Expands at Faster Pace in August   Full Article
Tempe, AZ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Growth in the services sector of the economy accelerated in August to the highest level since 2005, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Initial Jobless Claims Still Near Eight-Year Low   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week ticked up although claims remain near an eight-year bottom.

Private Sector Job Growth Remains Steady   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Private sector employment increased by 204,000 jobs from July to August, according to the August ADP National Employment Report.

CRI's Mendez Named SGAC Board President   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Carpet and Rug Institute vice president for government relations Jennifer Mendez was named president of the board of directors of the State Government Affairs Council.

Royal Adhesives Acquires Toronto-Based Chemque   Full Article
South Bend, IN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Royal Adhesives & Sealants said that its subsidiary Royal Adhesives & Sealants Canada will acquire polyurethane foams and adhesives maker Chemque.

Domotex Bringing Back Innovations Event   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Domotex is bringing back its Innovations@Domotex for a second season next year.

Factory Orders Increase by Record Amount   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Factory orders rose by a record amount in July, mostly on the strength of commercial aircraft.

Shaw Moves Up on Selling Power List   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Shaw Industries said it has been ranked no. 13 and is the only flooring manufacturer on the latest Selling Power 50 Best Companies to Sell For list.

Floor Focus Plans to Honor Young Professionals   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Floor Focus Magazine plans to recognize young professionals in the flooring industry who are under 40 years old.

Bona AB Wins Swedish Export Award   Full Article
Aurora, CO, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Bona AB said it has received the Export Hermes 2014 Award.

Rug Market Schedules Set Through 2018   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- AmericasMart has set the dates for its January and July markets, including its rug markets, through 2018.

Toll Brothers' Profit, Revenue Surge   Full Article
Horsham, PA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. reported third quarter net income of $97.7 million, or $0.53 a share, up from $46.6 million, or $0.26 a share, a year ago.