Thursday, October 14, 2010

Collaboration Part 2: The Collaborative Workspace

During the Design Charrette the conclusion was reached that collaborative work spaces were critical for a creative, dynamic, and efficient office culture.  During the discussion it also became apparent that these interactive spaces were needed on a variety of scales, and as a shared resource for all team members.  These spaces would empower the team and set the stage for the free exchange of ideas and design solutions.  The following is a list of these spaces within the new DG headquarters:
Open Studio (First and Second Floor).  For the majority of team members this is a crucial part of the office environment.  It is here casual interactions and discussions can occur on an hourly or even minute to minute basis.  This is the main stage for the cross pollination of ideas. 
Shared Open Work Space.  Interspersed within the studio, these spaces provide islands of collaborative space, allowing individuals to step away from their own stations and come together quickly and easily.  Accommodating 1-4 people, these spaces are shared by every four work stations. 
Shared Closed Work Room. This space is key to the idea of collaborative space. It accommodates up to 6 people and is available for any employee(s) to take over.  It might be to meet with a materials representative, to have a project team meeting, or just to get away from their work area and the studio to really concentrate.  Glass doors allow for auditory privacy but still allow for visual connection to the studio.
Work Room.  Here any team member can spread out and work in a temporary setting.
Small Conference Room (First Floor).  This is a more traditional, formal type of collaboration space with clients, consultants or staff.  It is available to use as available or by reservation.  Being located away from the studio space allows for a more structured, concentrated environment.
Small Conference Room (Second Floor).  Another more traditional, formal space however it could also be used as a shared closed work room when the studio expands to the second floor.
Large Conference Room (Second Floor).  The most formal of all the spaces within the office, this space promotes relationships between DG and the public.  Small lectures, presentations and lunch and learns can all be accommodated as well as client meetings, consultants, and in house team meetings.
First Floor Collaboration Spaces

Second Floor Collaboration Spaces

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Collaborative Design Process

Collaboration in action.

Collaboration has always been an essential part of the Design Group’s philosophy, and the design of the new office was no exception.  Office-wide charrettes were held so that everyone could contribute ideas and review the design as it progressed.  From the charrettes, three key guiding principles emerged: collaboration, sustainability, community.

Early in the process it became apparent that locating everyone in the same space on one floor was an important goal.  In the new office, everyone from the architecture studio to the interior design department to civil engineering will be located in one large space on the first floor.  Other ideas from the charrettes that were incorporated into the final building design include:

  • Renovation / reuse of an existing, historic building.
  • Sustainable technology, such as PV panels, solartube lighting, water-harvesting, efficient HVAC, and natural ventilation.
  • Environmentally friendly finish products with low VOCs.
  • A dishwasher (so we don’t have to use disposable dishes).
  • Open, collaborative work spaces.
  • Flexible workstations.
According to Ronnie DiCappo, head of the Design Group’s interior design department,

With design and engineering disciplines becoming more and more integrated everyday, collaboration is more important now than ever before. Our new office is designed to facilitate collaboration among team members.”

Office-wide design charrette.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Rise and Fall of the Workstation

When planning our new office, no detail escaped examination. Not limited to the design of the actual building, the future workstations themselves received scrutiny. As part of the office-wide design charrette process (both formal and informal), Design Group team members tested a seemingly endless parade of chair and desk options.

What might seem like a minor decision was actually quite important.

Beyond simple aesthetics, the ergonomics of the desks and chairs ruled the decision-making process. Like many other professionals, architects, designers, and engineers spend the majority of their work days sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen. This makes selecting the right desk and chair essential for employee health. Citing the proven benefits of workstations that can be adjusted in height to suit the user, we decided upon Baker's Zydeco™ electric table. At the touch of a button, each employee will be able to adjust the height of his/her desk – and will even be able to stand to work if so desired.

The Zydeco

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Master Plan

The New DG Headquarters Master Plan

A city planned around the automobile, Albuquerque sprawls out over the Rio Grande valley with half a million people on approximately 180 square miles.  This is a density of about 2,912 people per mile.  It may seem substantial but when compared with other American cities such as Chicago, with 12,192 people per sq mi, New York City with 17,931 people per sq mi or Boston with 7,249 people per sq mi., we have a lot of elbow room.   And while most Albuquerque residents relish their space, it does come at a cost.  Large busy streets divide neighborhoods, cars are the primary means of transportation, much of the city lacks a distinctive identity and we lose meaningful open space as the city grows westward. 
At Design Group we believe in urban planning that reflects the character of Albuquerque but also reinvests in our current neighborhoods, making our existing communities stronger, and knitting the fabric of the city and its people together.  As a part of this we have included in our master plan a possible residential or mixed use development on our site. Currently the parking lot will exceed our parking demands, and with more staff than ever walking or biking to work, there would be room for a small efficient development.  At this point these plans are very much on the drawing board, however they represent for us a brighter future for our community and our city.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A New Neighborhood, A Committment to Community

The New Neighborhood

Once the Design Group moves into its new Headquarters, the commute will get much shorter for several team members, including Emily Brudenell:

”Once we move, I will be able to walk to work in the amount of time it takes me currently to drive, or bike in even less time.  It’s going to be great; I can’t wait to move!”

The selection of this site was deliberate.  Owners Doug Majewski and Gregory Hartman considered dozens of sites before finally deciding to move forward with the location on Vassar.  Vassar offered the most opportunities to develop a project that would help cultivate a stronger community and support a diverse, walkable neighborhood. As Gregory observed,

"We are thrilled to become a part of a mixed use neighborhood where employees can live, work, learn, play and shop all within walking distance.  The Design Group was founded on community projects like this that positively impact our neighborhoods for future generations.  Adding another fifty years of life to a vacant building through revitalization is not only true sustainability but it also enriches our common cultural heritage.”

That many staff members will be able to walk or bike to work is a bonus.  Says one team member, Kirstin Kalberg:

“I love the fact that our new office is located on the cusp of a residential neighborhood.  It lends a sense of community to our office and work.  The location is really fantastic.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Photovoltaic Panel Installation Begins

Installation of the PV panels

Progress continues at the new Headquarters building, and today marks a major "Green" milestone for the building.  Positive Energy, Inc. is on site installing the photovoltaic (PV) panels that will supply a significant amount of the building's power needs.  The PV panels, made by SunPower, employ unique technology making them more efficient than most panels on the market. More than simply a key LEED Certification requirement for the building, the use of PV panels represents The Design Group's committment to sustainability.

Click on the links below to view a couple of short videos of the installation in progress:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our New Design Group Headquarters

Every day brings us one step closer to our new Design Group Headquarters.  Here's a "before" shot: