Expert Insights

Observations on the Evolution of Workplace Design

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By Jennifer E. Klein, AIA, Principal, DBI Architects, Inc.
I believe that, as architects and designers, we must communicate and collaborate with our clients to understand their work style and effectively design for their culture. And throughout my experience, these three themes still resonate: (1) Cultural change needs to come from the top, (2) Form should follow function, and (3) Less is always more.

But what are your experiences telling you?

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What if Designers Commit to Local Culture?

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With instant-communication based technologies increasingly becoming commonplace across the planet, we are beginning to see global — rather than local, regional, or national — design aesthetics emerge. So perhaps in the near future, elements like national pride, local climate, immediate geographical factors, and regional materials will not inspire our work as commercial designers.

But what if we re-commit to intensely cultural design?

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The IPD Process: What the Heck is It?

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FOX Architects recently completed a project with Balfour Beatty Construction for their new offices in Fairfax, Virg., by way of the IPD process.

What is IPD, you ask? How does it benefit the project in the long run?

I had those very same questions and went straight to the sources, Nicole Antil- Sr. Project Designer and Genelle McDonald- Chief Estimator for Balfour Beatty Construction. Read on and find out what they had to say about IPD.

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Back to the Foosball

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When the recession hit, employers buckled down by rallying their troops to keep their heads down and make great things happen. As part of that resolve, it wasn’t uncommon to see perks like the office Wii gathering dust — after all, “playing” when you were lucky to have a job didn’t seem tasteful.

But now we’re seeing the re-emergence of play in the office — and, hopefully, what it’s revealing to employers is that having a release isn’t just “cool” for culture, but a real part of productivity.

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What If We Designed With All 5 Senses?

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If we used all five senses to design our workspaces, would this make us — as end users — happier and more productive workers?

Most designers typically create spaces with only two of our five senses; namely, sight and touch. But maybe it’s not out of the question that we could use sound, scent, and taste when tackling a design challenge.

Perhaps a cohesive approach with all our senses considered would make our spaces more creative, joyful, and experiential.

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A Pivotal Shift: Scalable Workplaces

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How does a firm determine the appropriate actions for a unique situation? What changes must be made, and why? Since real estate costs are a big item on the expense sheet, a company must understand both its current situation and where it needs–”and wants–”to be.

A holistic approach is essential.

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