When architects are asked to design offices, they are often supplied with a list of needs and requirements for the space. In Sept. 2013, Washington-Metro area commercial real estate firm Vornado/Charles E. Smith challenged architects with creating offices of the future—with no design restraints whatsoever. Vornado/Charles E. Smith revealed the results of DesignLab last month.
The DesignLab suite in Crystal City, Va., transformed six pre-built office suites—ranging from 2,800 square feet to 5,900 square feet—on a single floor with the goal of attracting interest in leasing the spaces. So far, Vornado claims that 1,500 visitors have toured the spaces in a little over a month since DesignLab opened.
The six firms are: FOX, OTJ, Perkins+Will, RTKL, SmithGroupJJR, and VOA Architecture Associates. The communal areas in the hallway and bathrooms were designed by Gensler.
B10ck by FOX Architects
B10ck is built on a grid system using modular walls and a ceiling-mounted power bar that supplies power and data to the space. The space is adaptable to a number of various layouts that allow tenants to reconfigure the space as needed. It also has a virtual receptionist, with a welcoming screen that connects to an actual receptionist located at another office.
Honeycomb Hive by OTJ
The center of this ofice is the “hive” featured on the wall separating the reception, conference room, and kitchen from the additional office space. The office space is organized with five closed offices, an area for 12 “benching-style” workstations, and three additional “touchdown” stations. The layout is compact and well-organized fitting for a tenant that requires a variety of workspaces.
Next Space by Perkins+Will
Next Space opens with a reception area and kitchen, but an automated feature that hides the kitchen turns the space into a conference area for staff meetings. The reception desk includes wheels for easy mobility. The space also maintains energy efficiency with sustainable elements such as a combination of LED and fluorescent light fixtures and low-VOC paints. One wall is covered in “BuzziSkin”—an acoustical felt board made of recycled bottles for pinning pictures and papers.
The RTKL suite emphasizes customization with an open office space easily rearranged for individual and collaborative workspaces. It features innovative LED lighting that can be reconfigured in the T-Bars of the suspended ceiling for emerging savings of up to 50 percent of conventional lighting. It also uses a carpet made of post-consumer recycled content.
Picture It by SmithGroupJJR
One of the key features of this space is transparency—emphasized by the open space filled with natural light. Glass partitions create a clear view to almost the entire suite from the main hallway. The layout is defined by a mix of 80 percent open, “benching-style workstations and 20 percent private offices. The communal space includes an open kitchen, living room, and multiple teaming areas.
WORK4TANK by VOA
The name “WORK4TANK” is a combination of the words “workplace” and “think tank,” emphasizing the changing nature of offices towards environments of collaboration, openness, and visibility. This space is geared towards an evolving work environment where employees may customize their work space and experience on any given day. It is divided into three zones: event (for socializing), meet (conference rooms and hubs), and work (open stations and teaming tables).