Lionakis designs it's own workspace as a case study: Designer Forum - Feb 2016
By Valerie Hoffman
Lionakis, a century-old architecture and engineering firm based in Sacramento, California, recently became simultaneous designer and client, developing a new space for its growing Newport Beach office. With the unique opportunity to influence its own work environment, the design process for the new office began as a wish list of design ideas and architectural features, rooted in a desire for an open, collaborative and creative space where the staff could work differently.
As a multi-discipline architecture, engineering and interior design firm, the Lionakis team collaborated with the local staff, incorporated their ideas and developed a unique, fun office space featuring a wine bar, an open kitchen and flexible team spaces that can also serve as touchdown spaces. The vision was for a “case study” that could showcase products, technology and different ways to work for tenant improvement clients.
When working with clients, Lionakis designers start by determining the overall design goals for the project and carefully listening to their client’s needs to determine what is most important to them. Is it an open floor plan with benching spaces to accommodate wireless technology and comfortable, flexible collaboration areas? Or does the way they work require many individual offices and the ability to close a door to have a private conversation? Are they looking to recruit or retain the best and brightest employees and need an office environment to support this? Once Lionakis has developed an understanding of what the client does, how they deliver their services and what is most important to them, the firm can conceptualize a “big idea,” the vision that drives the design and serves as the benchmark throughout the rest of the project. From there, a highly collaborative and integrated process is utilized to layer in design and architectural components, as well as the client’s identity and brand.
The first challenge was to find an appropriate space in which to accomplish the design team’s vision. While the Newport Beach office is comprised of fewer than 20 staff, it’s growing and is expected to continue to experience significant growth. With this in mind, the team set out to find a lease space that would not only meet current requirements, but also provide the space and flexibility to accommodate the office’s projected growth over the long term. The chosen location, 11,000 square feet of High Rise Class A space, provided an incredible opportunity for both Lionakis and the building’s owner to show a new way to work, and to attract new tenants and encourage them to look at office spaces differently.
With the design concept in place, the empty office space was transformed into a flexible, collaborative and high-energy work environment. There are a variety of work areas, including breakout spaces, a low-walled cubicle open office environment and a large conference room with a bi-panel folding door that can open up into a flexible presentation, event or gallery space. An open kitchen for gathering and a wine bar for hosting industry events or entertaining clients provide adaptable spaces that can quickly and easily change to project team and client needs. Various work areas and breakout spaces are designed to inspire and spark ideas, while the open floor plan and low-walled cubicles foster a team environment and encourage interaction and engagement between team members.
At Lionakis, designers are guided by the philosophy that transformational design can create a sense of place for clients. The firm believes the right solutions can both inspire and impact the way people think, work and communicate. The design team is highly collaborative and welcomes the exchange of ideas from everyone involved, so when it came to designing their own office, they didn’t let the creativity stop at the design. Lionakis invited all staff to provide art for the walls, responding to the question: “What inspires your creativity?” This personalized the space and created a unique energy. The in-house Lionakis graphics team partnered with the interiors team to develop murals for the space, which were designed with the Lionakis brand theme, using uniform typography and color schemes to create a cohesive space and highlight the firm’s work in architecture using design drafts. Evoking a feeling of momentum and progress, the murals symbolize Lionakis’ core values and its commitment to being at the forefront of architecture and structural engineering.
The latest technology was a top priority in order to provide for future adaptability and to allow the Newport Beach office to easily work in real time with the three other
Lionakis offices. Collaborative touch screen white boards can be shared in real time with other offices, while high definition video conferencing in multiple spaces and wireless connectivity throughout increase efficiency and ease of communication. Flat panel TV screens throughout the lobby and community spaces show photos and videos of the firm’s best work, capturing its culture, identity and passion for design.
All finishes and materials were selected to showcase the different types of products that can be specified for a commercial office space. The intention was to provide clients with the opportunity to visit the office to see and touch things in real time. This approach has been utilized in the design of all of the Lionakis offices, allowing designers to specify products that look great for clients, and also providing them with knowledge and experience to share with clients as they make informed decisions about the sustainability, maintenance and durability of products, finishes and features. On all projects, Lionakis strives to ensure that it specifies materials that are durable and lasting. Incorporating them into its own office allows the firm to make educated recommendations to clients based on direct experience as related to the acoustics, maintenance and durability of a particular product.
For bustling and high traffic office environments similar to those of Lionakis and many of its clients, carpet tiles provide ease of maintenance, should something get stained or damaged. Knowing each client’s environment and durability requirements are key when making flooring decisions.
The design team particularly wanted to show as much product variety as possible in the floors, and it included various flooring materials, such as bamboo, ceramic tile and carpet. Durable and sustainable bamboo from Bamboo Hardwoods, Inc. is located at the entry and waiting area, while ceramic tile provides ease of maintenance and durability in the kitchen.
A variety of carpet tile selections allowed the team to incorporate pattern and texture while highlighting the types of carpet that can be used to enhance different spaces within a unified open plan office. The 11,000-square-foot office includes four different types of carpet, a testament to the level of creativity and design latitude that it offers when designing spaces for clients. In the office, the flooring choices function as both a neutral complement to the design and as an accent, depending on the space.
The open plan workstation areas, private offices and conference rooms use several different carpet types and patterns from manufacturers including Mannington, Interface and Milliken. While the textures and patterns vary, they are unified by a neutral grey color palette. Breakout and collaborative gathering areas along the main spine and circulation are defined by a bright pop of orange from Milliken’s Fixate carpet in Non-Zero. While Arizona Tile’s Over porcelain tile in Black & White in the kitchen maintains the gray color palette, the pattern was selected as a statement piece. The bright orange carpet and patterned ceramic tile enhance the neutral colors found in the rest of the space. The design team wanted these pieces to function as artwork on the floor, pushing the envelope a bit with a creative pattern while infusing the space with energy. The pop of orange inspired by the carpet is incorporated throughout the space, showing up in wall murals, furnishings and fixtures.
Lionakis is committed to sustainability and has signed on to the American Institute of Architect’s 2030 Commitment. In addition to setting nationwide standards for project energy use and reporting, this commitment also addresses firm operations in the areas of office energy use, green building and waste reduction, among others. This commitment to sustainability means doing the right thing for clients, the environment and the firm’s employees and workplaces. Lionakis sees its offices as laboratories for sustainable technologies and products. The tenant improvement to the Newport Beach office was no exception, and by leveraging the in-house sustainability team and making smart design decisions early in the process, the design team was able to exceed the initial goal of LEED Certified and achieve LEED Silver.
The building the design team selected is in close proximity to a new high-density housing development and provides employees with plentiful daylighting and access to quality views. The finished design incorporates many sustainable features, including daylighting controls, eco-conscious bamboo flooring at the entry areas, re-use and refurbishment of furniture, low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a high level of regionally-sourced and recycled content in many of the specified floorcoverings and finishes. Additionally, the firm purchased green power to further enhance the sustainability of the new office. Together, all of these features and decisions not only provide the Newport Beach employees with a healthy, quality and sustainable work environment, but also put Lionakis’ commitment to sustainable design into action.
Through a collaborative and design-focused approach, the growing Newport Beach office now supports flexibility and collaboration, while serving as a showcase space for both the firm and the building owner, encouraging clients and prospective tenants to imagine the possibilities when envisioning the future of their own office spaces.
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