An Architect’s Office

July 22, 2010 — 30 Comments

Work environments are important – they tell visitors a lot about what to expect from the place they are visiting. I almost always enjoy visiting other architects office because it seems like there is always something wacky going on somewhere. I’m not talking about the office’s of large architectural firms – no. I like going into the offices of firms with 30 people or less…15 or less is even better. It’s at the point where budget is still the major obstacle and the possibility of seeing saw-horse desks and reclaimed bookshelves is a distinct and sometimes necessary component.


This is the office I work at –  as I am writing this, I’m thinking that a picture of the exterior would have made a nice touch….oh well. You can look at the floor plan above and see that the layout of our office is really straightforward. Tricy and I laid this office out and we set our programmatic priorities and looking back 4 years later, I think we did a pretty good job. You can probably tell who did most of the work because there is one (that’s right….one) private office in this place and it happens to belong to yours truly. Wanna guess who also has the thermostat in his office? Just one of the perks of being a designer who knows AutoCAD and can do construction administration. I am totally smarter than I look, don’t let my writing style and non-existent grammar skills fool you. Maybe clever is more accurate than smart….

View from Entry


Reception Desk

One of the things that we did try and jazz up was our reception desk – but only a little. All the millwork in our office is clear-coated medium density fiberboard (MDF). It is super cheap, incredibly stable and durable and since most people aren’t used to seeing it without a coat of paint on, it seems new and unique. Trickery!! We did however pony up a little extra $$ to insert a MDF decorative panel on the front of the reception desk and as soon as I can remember where we got it, I’ll come back and amend this paragraph (I’m on a deadline here!) I do remember that it cost about $400 for a 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ sheet.


Conference Room

We only have ceilings in just a few places – the conference room and immediately above the reception desk are the only spots with a gypsum board ceiling. We wanted the acoustics to be a little better and have a more finished looking enclosure in the most public of spaces. In the offices we put 2′ x 2′ acoustic tile ceiling in but everywhere else it is open to structure. In the conference room, we have 3″ worth of beam depth popping through the gyp board, but I liked the look and decided to keep the ceiling where it was – just painted it out in the same seal gray as the rest of the deck and structure.

Also – see that giant TV, we watch it while eating popcorn as often as not – beer Fridays, The Office and spicy Cheetos, popcorn and cocoa coated almonds.


View of Gallery and Layout Area

We have a large-ish center area where we put a large layout table. Most of the time, it turns into a temporary dumping ground between meetings but it is an extremely useful area. Not only will we have group meetings and vendor material presentations here, but this table has been used for pumpkin carving contests, gingerbread house making contests, valentine cookie decorating. We even challenged a guy in the office to eat a “Ghost Pepper” (Bhut Jolokia Pepper – the hottest pepper in the world by a long shot). In the end, he only ate the teeniest tiniest bite ever in the history of chickening out at the last minute but he’ll tell you he ate it. He’s a liar.


Resource Library and yes...those are flat files

Can you believe it? We actually have flat files? I keep thinking that these dinosaurs will go away but I am coming to the realization that they will never be leaving. Maybe the next generation will figure out how to avoid keeping 15,000 rolls of full size drawings laying about. All I use these days are half size sets – they fit on my desk  a whole lot better and I don’t look like a jerk carrying the small rolls around from meeting to meeting. Also, this is our “Resource Library” and it probably is a waste of space. We keep making it smaller and smaller because we get everything off the Internet these days. Far too often, when you rely on the resource library materials, you will select something awesome that they stopped making 13 years ago and you just designed a space around it. (That’s never actually happened to me…I’ve just heard of it happening to others).


Partners office with 'Blue' the dog

When your name is on the door, you can bring your dog to work. This is the office of Patricia ‘Tricy’ Magadini. Her main role here is designer and her office typically looks a lot worse than this. You’ll see that in addition to the computer (used for streaming NPR, email, and surfing the Internet), Tricy still drafts by hand. (She doesn’t have the thermostat in her office – buwhahahahahaa!)


Where 'ALL' the magic happens

This is my office – if I had a camera with a wider angle lens you might be able to detect more of what really happens here. There is a low reclining chair just in the bottom left of the photo that is a great napping  chair for reading through specifications. You will see that I am rocking the double wide aspect 24″ monitors – how else can I keep up with twitter and blogging and pretending to do my work? Spoiler Alert!! A little possible bad karma might be on my horizon. As I took this photo, the red ribbon on AIA Young Architect of the Year award fell down. That can’t be good right?


Materials Room

Our Materials room – almost always a disaster and a challenge to find what you want but this is the room that all the visitors to our office are most enthralled by. You have to remember that all these things represent possibility and change for the better. I know when I bring my 6 year old daughter up to the office, this is a fun room to come to (although I don’t really let her spend any time in there – it’s dangerous!)


Workers working work area

This is one of the work areas that is in the very back of our office. We put it there because there is typically music being played, some sort of tape-ball tag or rubber band wars. We don’t need to see that sort of thing but we don’t need to pretend it doesn’t happen. I can assure you that there are few people in this country that can shoot you in the eye with a rubber band better than me. I’ve even shot myself in the eye a few times – I’m deadly.



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  • Lalah

    Hows your Organizational Set up with your partner? may we know if you have secretary and draftsman?

  • Pingback: The Best Things about my Future New Office | Life of an Architect()

  • Dayzee

    hey bob! what’s in the second floor of your office?
    wanted to see the facade of your office too…

    • we are a tenant within a 3 story building (we occupy half of the second floor).

      The outside of our building is fairly nondescript and we had nothing to do with its appearance. (wah-wahhhh)

      • dayzee

        by the way, where do you guys print your plans?do u have them job out to printers or you have your own plotters ‘cuz i think these machines takes up a whole lot a space…???!

        • if you look at the space directly across from the materials room, you can see where we have a plotter. It can plot 42″ wide sheets by whatever length we need – it is sort of slow (about 5 minutes to process and print a 30″x42″ sheet) so unless we are printing just a few sheets at a time, we will send out our plot orders.

  • jun

    can i know where is that place ??

  • Art2specs

    i love the work area

  • Sabolghasmi

    wow i want to work at this place

  • Anonymous

    Wow!! A partners office with a Mayline!! I knew there had to be some explanation for the high quality of work!!

    And great thinking having TWO exits from the conference room. The client can’t block both!!


  • Huy

    Hi Bob, I am just curious , the partners’ offices share a door, Do partners have relationship?

    • Ha! No, but they have known each other since college. I think since those doors were put in (4+ years ago) I’ve only seen them closed 3 or 4 and usually that’s because one of them is taking a nap!

  • S Filza

    very boring place everyone needs inspirations and nice colorful environment to have unique ideas and fresh air these all are missing in this design its too stuffed with material

    • seriously? I don’t even know what to say to your comment other than I think you are wrong

  • Clark

    Hey Bob!
    Great looking office! I’ve been wanting to design an office space for a while now, just for shits and giggles. I was wondering if you could post pictures of the rest of the office, unless it’s nothing special. Just curious

    • Nope – what you see is mostly what we have. Our office isn’t that gigantic – it was designed to accommodate 10 people with 2 conference rooms and a materials library + product library. We have been in this location for 4 years and so far, it has served our needs exceedingly well.


  • Msayayu

    Well build office! Convenient working area, Well reserved store, Amazing office.

  • bobborson

    your office comes with ownership so you can scoreboard me on that one. I particularly liked the wire wheel and toilet paper napkins from your photos. Classic and awesome!

  • bobborson

    I don't think that plastic bag has ever been removed. The cleaning crews must be trained to think waste bin = plastic liner. For all I know they dump both bins in the same trash cart.

  • Julie

    Nice office Bob! You are so amazingly tidy! How is that even possible! Going thru all my crap – dusting off models, moving all the stuff into our future office downstairs… looking at you slick cool office blows me away! Thanks for sharing! Now I need to go have a drink to boost my poor lil' ego! lol

  • Flat files, holy crap! I haven't seen those in eons. I really like the paper recyle bin with the plastic bag! Good post and nice office.

    Don't kid yourself you're smarter than the average bear!

  • bobborson

    My personal snacks are hidden away and wisely under lock and key – except for the provisions I keep under my desk (

    The chair ain't great but the arms adjust just right and that's the only reason it's still alive. But if someone wants to send me a Herman Miller Aeron chair (size large), I will happily do a product review

  • bobborson

    I think in keeping with the sad fallen ribbon from my Young Architect award, the Emmy would have to have part of it broken off or my name misspelled.

  • Totally dig this space, Bob–especially the floors and ceiling. The light is great, too. Does that chair kill your back? I think you need a new chair, ma brothah. Also, where do you keep the snacks 🙂

  • Nice digs, Bob. Thanks for sharing.

    You know, I’ve been thinking…
    We need a good prime-time drama about architects – your office would make a nice set.
    Would like to star in the show? You could add an Emmy to your Young Architect trophy…

  • Rina

    Your office looks great, i really liked the concrete floors and tricy´s office is great! Now I feel like designing my own office! thanks for sharing.

  • bobborson

    If I'm going to go to all that trouble, there might be a cocoa almond or 17 that have some ghost pepper dust on them.


    (p.s. – please video tape yourself while eating the almonds……)

    • Details and Design

      You have made me feel a WHOLE lot better about our office space! Maybe i will blogabout it and show off what CHAOS really looks like.

  • Alexandrafunfit

    #1. Please send me some of those cocoa almonds right away if you know what's good for you.
    #2. Do not send any of those peppers or I will grate them into tiny bits and sneak them into your coffee.