At Foundry, we are in the business of matching great businesses with great spaces, and during the past year, three Foundry offices expanded to new digs of their own in Orlando, Nashville, and Atlanta. These major efforts would not have been possible without the help and support of many associates who made sure the moves happened thoughtfully, all while continuing to crush their everyday responsibilities. In this issue of Foundry United, we wanted to honor these spaces and the people who helped create them with a behind-the-scenes look at the three new office.
Paul Ellis: Every single year, I experience these surreal moments where I look around and think ‘wow, how did that happen?’ Twelve years ago, literally on part of the lawn that our new Orlando office overlooks, there stood a circular building where we occupied the seventh floor. It was kind of a makeshift office, and we had what we affectionately referred to as a ‘water feature,’ where the roof leaked when it rained. Right before our first open house, Gregg and Nick ran to Publix and bought buffalo wings, a veggie tray, and a cooler full of beer, and that’s how we got our start. If you’d have told me back then that one day, we’d be leasing an entire floor in one of downtown Orlando’s best-recognized buildings, and that this office would be just one of 12 Foundry locations throughout the country, I don’t think any of us could have dreamed that up at the time. Having an opportunity to watch our teams grow into stunning and personalized office spaces is perhaps one of the greatest pleasures of this work.
For the past several years, Foundry’s headquarter office in Orlando was bursting at the seams. When the company originally took the ninth floor space at CNL II in 2008, the company boasted just 26 associates. Fast-forward to mid-2019 and the office had grown so quickly – now employing 97 associates – that it had to be split between spaces on two floors of the building. A combination of grit and good timing provided the perfect opportunity for Foundry to swap spaces with a full-floor tenant in the same building who was looking to downsize.
Foundry Property Manager Sara Fackler laughs a little as she recalls becoming involved in the design of the new Orlando office space by being a little nosy. She’d overhear Mark Bennett and Nick McKinney whispering about a new space, then she’d approach them to ask about elements like furniture rub counts. (Rub counts are a rating for commercial furniture design applications, a world Sara was somewhat familiar with from a previous job overseeing a local interior design firm.) Sara was quickly pulled onto the transition team – a thoughtful crew of 10 associates who planned everything from staging the move of 92 associate boxes and computer stations to sourcing white noise machines – who still had to successfully keep up with their typical roles and responsibilities. And they had just five weeks to get it all done.
One of the accolades that Sara says she holds dearest is a comment made by a visitor to the new office who mentioned the space “feels so considered,” because it was a true reflection of her experience and hopes for the space. Hours of consideration and intentionality went into the office design and move plan.
So, who better to give a tour of Orlando’s new space than Sara herself?
Sara Fackler: Leading up to my involvement in the move, Foundry had engaged a design firm, had gone through numerous rounds of selections meetings, and tirelessly worked to translate our culture into a tangible aesthetic that spoke to who we were as a community. However, after multiple rounds of meetings with the firm that led to mounting frustrations and a dwindling timeline, we tired of continuously receiving plan submissions that just didn’t hit the mark. Foundry was being painted as “corporate in the box” and losing any sense of translating our amazing growth story into the look and feel of our new space.
In defense of design firms, anyone in the interiors business understands that the major difference between residential and commercial design is that designing a residence employs an intimate understanding of the personality, daily functions, and artistry of the people who will occupy that space. Conversely, commercial office design is not typically created to be personal in nature. Foundry is, of course, not a usual commercial operation. It’s personal. See the problem?
Taking on this project meant embracing a time commitment that was outside my comfort zone. As the mother of a toddler as well as a retail property manager, I am wholly occupied by two already engrossing roles that demand my attention around the clock. However, with a tiny blip of experience in the industry and an intense personal passion for interior design, I could not deny that I was drawn to the project and saw it as a way to put my interests to work in service to this community that I love. We set off, but certainly not without obstacles. The timeframe was fleeting; the plans were still variable; our first orders were placed before a pen even touched the lease. But through strong collaborations, a whole lot of teamwork, patience and long hours, we slowly began traversing a road from impossible to fruition… and it was all coming together so smoothly! After a while I found myself dumbfoundedly asking Nick: “Isn’t it a beautiful thing when things come together as you hoped?”
My first inspiration that needed to be considered was an obvious one: the name our founders chose for us and the story that motivated them to brand us as Foundry Commercial. In Paul’s words: “A foundry is a place where resources are forged together to serve a need; a place that combines hard work, experience and passion to form something stronger that will last.” Reflected in our interior, I drew from this story as I searched for some of the materials that would adorn our new space. We are a community brought together in service to our clients, stewarding these manmade structures of steel, concrete, stone, and wood to manage, maintain, develop, lease, and finance alongside one another. So, I procured selections that showcased some of these building materials. They turned up in stone side tables, exposed wood chair frames, metal detailing, cast cement, and structural finishes.
One of the most defining parts of our new space was one that – from the very beginning – was of critical importance to our executive team: the “living room.” This is a quarter-sphere space overlooking an enlivening downtown view across the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The directive on this space was that it should be shared as a place in our company where the real conversations would be happening. This is where we catch up with questions like “How is your son’s soccer season going?” and “What’s that trouble-making toddler getting into these days?” Because of its unique architecture and vistas, this “living room” needed almost nothing to make it enjoyable to experience. It was actually fun to sit in the space when it was still empty!
To cultivate the experience our executives envisioned, we arranged a furniture floor plan with engagement in mind, which also encourages a walking pattern to honor the views. As points of contrast, the feature twin-tufted leather sofas are arranged in a traditional mirrored layout, chored by a glass coffee table inviting visitors to connect through beautiful artwork that doubles as play: a Lucite cityscape chess board or marble tic-tac-toe game. The rug underfoot was selected in honor of our name, with woven fiery tones suggesting the smoldering, smelting processes required in a foundry’s metalwork. This area is punctuated by twin navy upholstered swivel chairs that allow for the option of communing with the main gathering point or rotating out to enjoy the view.
The curved crème sofa in the corner – one of the most aesthetically progressive silhouettes we procured – serves to uplift the color palette while also unifying the architecture of the space by meeting the curvature of the façade and physically drawing it into the room as an element of rest. This seating area is anchored by a beautiful ebony drum coffee table that looks straight out of the fire itself – a cast composite of cement, stone, granite, and marble. Drawing into the tradition of the room while also tying into the main seating area, the “living room” is finished with an exposed wood frame club chair upholstered in a soft leather body, designed to balance the contrasted palette of this nook.
My favorite part of our new space is something I had nothing to do with. In our original sprawled layout on floors eight and nine, I occupied a little corner of about a 600-square-foot space, adjacent to three offices shared between ten people. These crammed quarters, with our hodge-podge furniture and squabbles over who used whose trash can, served as a pressure cooker for cross-departmental collaborations, skill-sharing, and relationship-building. They were the catalyst for – among many other things – my participation in this design. The best part of this move is that now we all have a share in that experience because of the new office’s open floorplan. Getting to see the faces of so many coworkers I hadn’t seen before and forging experiences together in our new workspace… that is the best design feature of the fourth floor and what has really made it all the more personal for me.
The Foundry Atlanta team more than doubled in size within the last year, largely due to the massive momentum behind our growing industrial and management teams. Jumping from a WeWork space into a small office in August of 2017, the team in Atlanta is proud to have landed on the third floor of Piedmont Place in Buckhead.
From prints of the 404-area code to artwork honoring Atlanta rappers, hometown pride is evident throughout the entire space. Plans are in the works to install pieces by local graffiti artists, such as Greg Mike and Yoyo Ferro, and treasures collected from Augusta National and UGA don a sports-themed area. Whiteboard walls featuring some of Nick McKinney’s magic scribbles frame the minimalist conference room, where a unique wood and concrete table sits. More furniture is eventually planned for the gathering space, but for now the Foundry-orange kitchen is the spot where associates prefer to share conversation or a drink after-hours together. Chris Hurd, our Atlanta Market leader, tells us more about their new space.
What was the catalyst to move?
Chris Hurd: Put simply: we needed more space! The team in Atlanta more than doubled in a year, so we wanted to accommodate that growth and provide for future expansion within the company.
How was your new space chosen?
Chris Hurd: Buckhead is the premier location for commercial brokerage firms in Atlanta. Foundry also leases and manages this building, so Piedmont Place was a natural fit for us.
Have any clients visited the space yet?
Chris Hurd: Yes, we have had multiple compliments from the clients who have toured the space, especially those who had visited us in our previous space!
How do you think the new office will affect culture and productivity?
Chris Hurd: Having more space has been crucial to our productivity and our ability to pursue different projects without being on top of one another. In addition, the common areas in our new office provide space for everyone to gather, snack, and maybe even enjoy an adult beverage at the end of a long day.
What are some details of the move/build-out that are unique or difficult?
Chris Hurd: We ended up moving ourselves into the new space, which was quite a task in and of itself. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go far! The most difficult design aspect of our office has unexpectedly been artwork. We are trying to only incorporate Atlanta-related wall art and finding great pieces that fit with our theme has been quite the undertaking since we have so much wall space. It’s coming along, though.
A striking, unobstructed view of Nissan Stadium and the Cumberland River greet guests at Foundry’s new office in Nashville City Center. Full-height glass, warm, dark trim, and herringbone wood floors invite entrants to enjoy the view. Matt Wright, Senior Project Manager in Nashville, recently mentioned that everyone walking through the space is quick to go to the windows and point out buildings or landmarks with stories. “It brings a sense of place, and it tells the Nashville story well.”
The story of the Foundry Nashville team is one of tremendous, thoughtful growth, and the new office was designed with growth in mind. The team focused on creating a warm, easy-to-navigate space where they could flex their culture for clients and recruits. The office features a completely open workspace with no hard wall offices, aimed at delivering a vibrant, energetic place to work and share life. Common areas were designed to blend people that wouldn’t normally overlap in their workday, encouraging team members to sit down and share a meal or coffee while also learning more about one another.
The back-of-house workspace design was influenced by lessons learned from previous office spaces. While concrete floors and exposed ceilings are beautiful, it’s also prudent to drop ceilings, add acoustic tiles as well as carpet in work areas to reduce any noise issues. According to several team members in Nashville, a plan to install a putting green may or may not be in the works. “This side of downtown – the older side – has been redeveloped and is naturally starting to attract tenants that are entrepreneurial, tech- or music-focused. And we’re proud to be a part of this group,” said Tara Hasenour, our Nashville market Graphic Designer.
How was your new space chosen?
Jason Holwerda: We were awarded the leasing assignment at Nashville City Center, which greatly contributed to the decision to move here. Further, we wanted to be in a downtown location not only for convenience, but also to be close to a lot of the commercial real estate activity in the area.
What was the catalyst to move?
Jason Holwerda: Foundry Nashville is growing! We were in two different spaces and needed to combine offices, but we also needed room to grow.
How do you think the new office will affect culture and productivity?
Jason Holwerda: The sheer fact that we now have everyone under one roof is already improving productivity and efficiency. In addition, the environment combines the best of collaboration and social space with efficient, quiet professional space that is great for working and hopefully for recruiting as well.
What are some details of the move/build out that are unique or difficult?
Jason Holwerda: The greatest difficulty faced was the move coordination to effectively move out of three different offices over a period of two months and consolidate all our offices into this new space. The real unique aspect of the space is the entryway. We wanted to create a modern, contemporary environment – showcasing wood floors and an exposed ceiling – for clients to interact with Foundry team members, but we also wanted to have an open concept conducive to collaboration and relationship-building.