I am counting down the days to when we expect to move out of our current office and into our new one. There was the office at my last job – [An Architect's Office] – which shows how I laid that office out. We had a lot more space then we might have needed but since my name wasn’t on the door and the rent didn’t come out of my pocket, I am going to admit that I didn’t worry about those sorts of things.
It was a sad day in June 2013 when I moved out of my private office [Moving Memories] but there were bigger and greater things ahead, I couldn’t be bothered with a private office … I am a man of the people!! So in I moved to an office built for 4 people which is currently housing 8 … you could say that we’ve experienced some growth. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced an open plan office [Architectural Office: Open Plan] and there have been some moments of discovery along the way.
Let’s start with a look at our current office:
We have 6 people in 218 square feet of space … which I know in some countries would accommodate a family of 12 but since I don’t live or work in one of those countries, I find it a bit challenging to sit at my computer and open a roll of drawings. There is a daily ballet of people coordinating moves as they move through the studio, carefully coordinating the rolling in and out of chairs. In all fairness, this space was only intended for 4 people and our growth has created the density our current studio enjoys.
This is what you call our “multi-purpose” space. We have printers and scanners, models (and more models), flat files full of drawings – this is a working space and we need all of it.
This is the conference room, which also doubles as Michael’s office. Once person #5 showed up in the studio, Michael relocated into this room. He gets the same desk against the window that Audrey and I have except now he has to deal with sitting through other people’s meetings. Since he is out of the office so frequently it hasn’t been challenge but let’s just say I check his travel schedule before scheduling my meetings.
This space is now 5 years old and the firm has simply outgrown it. We have been making it work because we generally love the location – at least, I know I do. I only live 2.3 miles from where I work and the commute is pretty easy. But with the passage of time, all things must change and the time is drawing near when we will relocate into our new office. (which is still only about 5 miles from where I live #winning)
I think it’s par for the course that architects spend the least amount of time working on their own projects [Working on your own house sucks] and this project was no different. Our new office is still not particularly large – it’s 1,677 square feet which compared to our current sardine sized office will seem so much larger that it’s almost tacky. We went about designing this office only considering how it will work for our needs – how to make it cool will come later.
Transparency breeds Collaboration
A recurring theme on my site is transparency – I will tell almost anybody anything when it comes to all things “Bob”. I’m substantially more guarded when it comes to other people’s information but there is a synergy that is created when everybody has a voice and gets to chime in with a thought or observation about a process or design. In our office, the people here collaborate at a level that I have never seen before in 20+ years of working. I have been wondering if this is just the mixture of people in place or is there something in the water. When everything is open for discussion and opportunities for involvement are as close as the person sitting next to you, people tend to get together and synergies are created. For that reason, we are still going to use the open office plan and I am going to sit in the thick of things.
[click floor plan for a larger view]
1 My Desk
My role in this office has evolved into an interesting combination of manager, friend, quality control, designer, karaoke superstar, and “how do I …” question responder. While filling out my time sheet has become an endless run of 5 minute entries, I have my finger pretty much on the pulse of everything that is going on – and coming out – of the office.
2 The Studio
We are going with a fancy pants furniture benching system. No partitions or panels separating worker bee #1 from worker bee #2, and considering how often the people in our office collaborate with one another, this is a very good thing. Plus it makes it easier for me to shoot them with a rubber band from my superior tactical position in the corner.
3 The “Monster Model”
We have the largest model ever built [Architectural Models] and this is where it will live … at least until we need two more workstations. We will have highly functional work space to accommodate up to 15 people should things develop in that manner, a fact that is both awesome and terrifying to me at the same time.
4 Lobby/Seating/Conference #2
This is our new “multi-purpose” space – they are all the rage in designer offices. We get our fair share of vendors who swing by the office so this is an area where we can accommodate them should there be a meeting in the main conference room. I would also imagine that this will be where people will gather for coffee:o’clock, lunch (which we’ll cover in more detail once we get down to #11) and our highly competitive Beer:30 quarters matches (don’t even act like you don’t have those.)
Our office will be on the second floor of a retail development and as a result, there are certain standards we are working with (around) … like the storefront mullion pattern and location of the entry door.
6 Bookshelves + Model Display
All architectural offices have the equivalent of 3 shipping containers full of books and we are no different. Most of the pretty architectural books will be in the office (#8) but we’ll keep trade books, code manuals, and periodicals in this area. On top of this 18′ long bookshelf will be were our “non-monster” models will be placed. I don’t know what to tell you, everybody likes models … they are irresistible to all walks of life. Whenever people see one of our scale models, they are drawn to them like a structural engineer to a calculator.
7 Conference Room
Pretty self-explanatory – we need one and this is it. We will eventually have tack boards [The Architect's Tack Board], magnet walls galore, etc. There will be a lot of presentations that happen in this space and we are going to need a place to pin up.
8 Private Office
This is the only private office in our space and it’s where Michael will sit … he’s earned it. The truth is, he’s either gone or on the phone 97% of the time and nobody wants to sit next to someone who’s constantly on the phone … I’m pretty sure that’s how I got my private office in my last office.
9 Break Room / Copy
Copy room is what this space is but … whatever. This is really about having a break room, a luxury that most people might take for granted. Our current office has a dorm-sized fridge but that’s it – no microwave, sink, counter, or joy. The glass half-full guy would also say that we don’t have stinky reheated food smells wafting through our office either … which considering the lack of dietary restrictions demonstrated by our staff is probably a good thing. But I don’t care, bring on the real break room and full sized refrigerator! (but if you’re going to be eating a lot of egg salad sandwiches … don’t.)
10 I.T. Closet
We currently keep the our server on a rack in the corner of the office between two work stations. There are cords, cables and equipment all over the place and at least 3 times a day I worry about someone shifting in their seat and kicking some wire loose. It’s at this moment when there would be a sizzle/crackle sound just as the overhead lights flickered, a loud *POP* followed instantly by a barrage of horrified expletives, eroding into me balling up under my desk and weeping. I love you future new I.T. closet.
11 The “Coffee Bar”
When I laid this space out, it was really important to everyone that we create a counter, sink and fridge – the proverbial coffee bar [Architects and Coffee]. Out of all the things our new office space will make available to us, this 8 foot stretch of real estate probably is the thing that excites most people. We typically eat out now – there’s only so many cold leftovers people feel like eating – and now we have a place to accommodate this significant change in office culture.
12 Toilet Room
Without being too crude, I am so happy we will soon have our own restrooms. This is my preferred toilet room layout for obvious reasons [Modern Toilet Room] but that’s not why I am so excited about having toilet rooms. I like the idea that … you know what? In a rare moment of restraint, I think I’ll keep it to myself.
So yes, I am marking off the days the calendar until we move into our new office.