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Written By: Tim Blair
Embarking on an Adventure in Design and Teamwork
We assist our clients every day as they navigate through the process of expanding, contracting, consolidating and optimizing their real estate assets. Through visioning sessions, clients can articulate their programmatic requirements, goals, aspirations, culture and brand for their new space. We also facilitate the design process and execute the construction on their behalf. But as Foundry Commercial expanded, we had the unique opportunity to design our own new office in Boca Raton, FL.
I had the incredible opportunity to collaborate directly with Pryse Elam on this endeavor. We considered multiple locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, but ultimately decided to stay at Mizner Tower and build out the space adjacent to our existing office. The space had been gutted, so we had a clean palette with lots of windows and exposed structure. As we all know, Pryse is very pragmatic. So, I was a little hesitant as I embarked on the creative design process with him. In our first site visit, we agreed that the Deal Hub should be placed in the area with extensive daylight. I reluctantly offered that we should keep the exposed structure for the ceiling and Pryse liked the idea. We were off to a great start.
As we worked through the programmatic requirements, I quickly learned that Pryse embraced the concepts of openness with adequate privacy, collaboration, balancing formal and informal spaces, flexibility, ergonomic workstations, and not creating a stagnant corporate environment with unnecessary hierarchy. It was the essence of workplace strategies that our clients strive for in their projects. Also, we were able to overlay elements of our culture and brand into the design with feedback from Nick McKinney. Ankoor Jivan was an excellent resource, as he asked the “what if” questions that challenged us to refine the design, and Yanique Virgo was integral to the design and execution process.
Realizing the Vision
The entry sequence and circulation spines are defined with porcelain tile in a running bond pattern. Rather than a formal lobby area, we created a living room with an open galley break room and coffee / dining bar. We staggered three accent walls within the entry zone to mimic the Foundry logo. The collaboration room is our version of the da Vinci room in Orlando. The two conference rooms are separated from the open environment to provide acoustical privacy.
The Deal Hub takes full advantage of the extensive daylight; exposed concrete structure; perimeter soffits including adjustable Punkah diffusers; v-shaped pendant light fixtures; and lots of writable wall surfaces framed and lit by continuous LED slots. We provided two Huddle Rooms for privacy and as an alternate workspace. The Deal Hub includes three touchdown stations for visiting associates.
Pryse does not like the rigidity and formality of standard workstations, which tend to create hierarchies and reduce collaboration. Our solution was two staggered islands that serve as the side tables for each associate. We utilized motorized adjustable desks that allow everybody to customize their workspace for sitting or standing. The desks are staggered as well and we can add two more workstations in the future. And I almost forgot about the putting hole in the Deal Hub.
As we were completing the construction of the new office, Pryse advised that he wanted to expand into the space between our old and new offices. The challenge was that it had one small window and extensive main ductwork that fed the floor. Pryse sent us an image of Olivia Pope’s conference room from Scandal and that became the inspiration for the light wall that both brightens the space and serves to connect it to the rest of the office. A large flat-screen TV surrounded by eight backlit boxes centers the light wall. The perforated metal acoustical ceiling frames the light wall and we utilized multiple ceiling heights to create interest and to define zones within the space. A larger Huddle Room provides another alternative for informal meetings. Again, we incorporated ample writable wall surfaces. The expansion space includes a dartboard and we can add a virtual reality/ gaming area in the future.
Work Worth the Reward
In the eloquent words of Pryse and Nick, we took the worst space in the building that sat unleased for years. We negotiated a great deal with the landlord with an adequate TI allowance to encourage us to take on the challenge. The “Art of Real Estate” was in the design process, balancing limited resources to achieve the collective vision and transforming the blank canvas into an efficient, flexible and cool space for Foundry Commercial.
An added community benefit was that we were able to donate the majority of our existing furniture to the Carrie Meek Foundation for their new headquarters at the Carrie Meek International Business Park. I believe that the end result is an inviting and collaborative environment that speaks to the growth of Foundry Commercial and reflects our culture and brand. On Sunday, February 5, 2018, Pryse sent one of his early morning emails that stated: “Just moved into our new millennial-friendly, really cool, hipster office.” It was an extremely rewarding experience for me and I think that we ended up with a happy “client.”