Category Archives: Project Spotlight

Biophilic Design: A Pathway to WELL Certification at ASID Headquarters

David Gerson

I had the pleasure to visit ASID’s new HQ, the first space to receive both the WELL Platinum and LEED Platinum certifications. Becoming the first space to receive both the WELL Platinum and LEED Platinum certifications makes it truly one of a kind. ASID and Perkins+Will partnered to create an exceptional space that speaks to who they are and what they value. They wanted to be on the cutting edge of modern workspace design, but also create a space that was restorative to their people with minimal negative impact to the environment.

From the moment you walk in and are greeted by the virtual assistant at the front door, you know you are walking into the future. The new ASID National Headquarters is a living lab dedicated to creating a premier workspace for its employees. It’s also built to study the effects of some of the key elements of that space that address human health and well-being.

ASID HQ

ASID applied evidence-based design strategies to create a space that is pleasing to the human eye, but also scientifically proven to address a wide range of issues, from cardiovascular health to sustainable agriculture.

Biophilic Design and WELL

One of the requirements for achieving WELL certification for building interiors is the incorporation of biophilic design. The WELL Building Standard aspires to “create an interior environment that nurtures the human-nature connection.”

WELL’s Biophilia Precondition (#88) deals with “Nature Incorporation.” The first major infusion of biophilic design is present even before you enter the glass front doors. The striking Net Effect carpet has a color and pattern that resembles the ocean. Beyond the aesthetics, the carpet contains 100% recycled nylon, which is partially made from fishing nets recovered from environmentally-sensitive coastal communities in Asia and Africa through the Net-Works program.

ASID HQ

Natural Elements

The vegetated plant ledge, which extends throughout the space, simply and efficiently brings greenery through almost every workspace in the office. The ledge provides the same benefits as a green wall, but is much easier to maintain. From the front conference room to the meeting space in the back corner, plants brighten employees’ day, while also cleaning the air they breathe.

ASID HQ

ASID HQ

Some other notable biophilic elements used in this space include a magnified pattern of dragonfly wings on the interior glass to provide some visual privacy, a unique design detail and a subtle biomorphic pattern to the space. Abstract water patterns on the conference room walls also provide beauty, vibrant colors and a connection to nature.

ASID HQ

I am thrilled to see ASID leading their constituency to embrace WELL, LEED and the rising movement towards evidence-based design strategies.

Biophilia is inherent to us as human beings, and biophilic design provides a framework for us to build exceptional spaces enabling us to thrive and do our best possible work.

Posted in Category Biophilic Design, Project Spotlight | Leave a comment

Feeling Good, Working Well: Meridian Credit Union’s Biophilic Office

Jean Nayar

In the relocation of its Toronto corporate office, Meridian Credit Union’s transition team worked closely with designers Bullock + Wood and Interface to craft new offices that emphasize and support the well-being of its employees.

Meridian Financial

As Ontario’s largest credit union, Meridian knows well what it takes to help its members grow. And in the process of supporting more than a quarter of a million people enriching their lives and their businesses from Windsor to Ottawa, the community-centric credit union has also grown and now employs more than 1,500 people in several branches and various commercial and corporate offices throughout the region.

Envisioning a new space

When the employees who worked at its Toronto-based corporate office began to outgrow their space in a building in the downtown core several years ago, Meridian applied the same business ethos it relies on to support its members as the driving force behind the design of a new office environment that would reinforce the well-being of its employees and help them to function effectively.

Meridian Financial

The Meridian team chose a mix of nature-inspired Interface carpet tile as the launching point for the entire design of the office space.

“As we undertook a location search five years ago, we made the decision that moving out of the core was more aligned with who we were as a community credit union,” says Sandy Brown, vice president of real estate and property management for Meridian.

As a result, the company relocated this corporate office to suburban Toronto West to be closer to the community it serves as well as to its sister corporate office in St. Catharines. “Our functional goals included creating an environment that linked to our evolving business, supporting our employees’ well-being from a social and physical perspective, and reflecting our leadership and cultural values,” says Claudine Chess, senior human resources business partner for Meridian.

An office with a view

Among the plus points of the new light-filled 33,000-square-foot space the company chose for the 150 Toronto corporate office employees were expansive views of the nearby surroundings, including greenery, Lake Ontario, and the Toronto skyline in the distance. Situated on the 6th and 7th floors of a 1980s LEED Gold certified building, the offices were also in a place where Meridian “could stake claim,” says Chess, noting that “Meridian was founded on the idea of neighborhood banking,” and the new setting would allow easy access to the people who lived in condos or worked in small businesses or for commercial developers nearby.

Meridian Financial

Purposeful design

Recognizing that the extended commute to the new office setting would likely meet with resistance among many of the employees, the transition team involved in spearheading the design of the new offices was keen on creating spaces that would inspire a sense of comfort and well-being for the employees—especially those who would have to travel an hour or more to get to work. So designing an appealing environment with varied spaces and tools to ease various work-related tasks was critical.

“We wanted them to have choices with equipment like headsets or sit-stand workstations, because in today’s work environment sitting is thought of as the new smoking and we wanted employee well-being to be front and center,” says Chess.

Since many of the company’s mobile workers often work from home as well as the office, they also wanted to include characteristics that would echo a home environment. “From a wellness perspective we relied on an analogy to inform the design, which offered a choice of spaces that you’d intuitively use for different kinds of tasks in a home,” says Chess. “A dining table for concentrated work, for example, or a comfortable chair for reflective reading, or room to pace around during a conference call.”

Meridian Financial

Employees are encouraged to walk the “Meridian Mile,” outlined throughout the office by Interface Off Line carpet tile.

Well-being and biophilic design

Another essential ingredient for the team, who worked with Toronto-based interior designers Bullock + Associates on the design of the new offices, was to support a sense of well-being by embracing the uplifting influence of nature beyond the light, greenery, and inspiring views. Interestingly, the team had been introduced to Interface products and the underlying point of view that drives its designs, and they chose to rely on a mix of its nature-inspired carpets as the launching point for the entire design of the office space.

“Early on in the design phase we were presented with Interface’s Human Nature™ collection of products and we fell in love with the sustainability story behind the line and used it to inspire the look of our whole office,” says Brown. “We also saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to communities,” adds Sarah Rea, Meridian’s senior manager of corporate social responsibility, noting that the building’s LEED Gold environmental standard and the materials choices in the office align to the goals the company aims to achieve.

Posted in Category Design Inspirations, Project Spotlight | Leave a comment

TransferWise Transforms Office Design

Interface

Welcome to the era of a new “Googlefied” office. Tech start-ups have challenged conceptions of the modern working environment since companies such as Google and Facebook created their sought after workspaces, akin to playgrounds, for the professional generation Y. Now, scientific studies, including our Human Spaces report, have proven that worker’s concentration and productivity levels markedly improve when provided with variation and stimulation within the working environment.

Transferwise office

The three coordinating styles of Touch and Tones carpet tile offer a choice of pile height to make a space surprising.

Long gone are stale cubicle rows, dull carpets and strip lighting. In their place? Bright colors and artwork to inspire creativity. Break-out areas and the tools in which to “play,” interact and exchange ideas with colleagues. Quiet spaces with carefully refined acoustics in which to concentrate, escape and reflect for clarity of thought. These workplaces attract and retain the most talented of employees – and smart companies know that this is key in creating and maintaining a strong workforce in a competitive market.

Transferwise office

TransferWise harnessed this thinking for their recent office renovation in Estonia. As a fast-growing financial technology company (co-founded by an ex-Skype employee and backed by innovators such as Sir Richard Branson and PayPal founder, Peter Thiel) they are disrupting the world of currency exchange and flipping a gazillion dollar industry on its head.

Transferwise office

Interface is represented in Estonia by the agency Tekero, who has a great knowledge of design and understanding of the market. Tekero worked with interior design architects  Krista Thomson and Kärt Loopalu from bureau Superellips in designing the project. Young, creative and energetic, the TransferWise team boasts 30 plus nationalities within its staff. Krista and Kärt sought to reflect this in their playful and animated design, creating distinctive meeting rooms that pay respect to the interior styles of the team’s diverse cultures.

Transferwise office

Spanish warm yellows, a nod to Japan with calming white and red tones and a sumptuous Russian-themed room, amongst others, all invoke a relaxed and unique feel. The pièce de résistance? The iconic Unicorn Room. Guaranteed to start conversations and inspire a sense of fun.

Transferwise office

Designers Krista and Kärt sought to create workspaces that discouraged endless hours behind a computer at a fixed desk. Open, well-lit areas incorporating elements of biophilic design with green plants and huge windows create space and a sense of harmony. They provided an alternative solution to the modern grind and set the scene for employees to move around and really shake things up – sitting, lounging, meeting and even napping within a single space. It’s a non-traditional office environment that encourages a more social and collaborative dynamic – and it’s the future.

Posted in Category Biophilic Design, Design Inspirations, Project Spotlight | Leave a comment

Maximizing Space, Boosting Culture

Elizabeth Davis

Rapid Advance was growing in more ways than one. The company’s original headquarters was the quintessence of corporate design—traditional, muted, and safe—but that space didn’t represent the changing company culture or allow for team growth. They needed a space that reflected the vibrancy of their culture and allowed for current and future expansion.

corporate

Rapid Advance needed a corporate design to reflect the vibrancy of their culture. Interface products featured: On Line™ and Ground Waves™.

This team of business lenders moved to a new space in a new building, marking a fresh start for the company. Rapid Advance became the first tenant of the first LEED Platinum building in Bethesda, Maryland.

Spearheaded by Lead Designer, Kristin Kostrzewski, the corporate design of the new 22,433 square foot space was the perfect tabula rasa—a space that could be designed from scratch to accommodate the team of 190 members with room for a mix of professional, executive, recreation, and collaborative areas.

meeting room

One of many areas to accommodate team collaboration.

Our efforts focused on representing not only the company’s professionalism and work ethic, but also their culture and personality. We broke down the walls of traditional corporate design by creating a workspace that is open and uplifting. We installed work surfaces with low cube walls, which opened the space and allowed for more natural light. We designed areas specifically for recreation and breaks to establish an equal balance in the new office space. The layout incorporated a “Whiskey Room” for entertaining clients and celebrating successful deals complete with flooring taken from actual whiskey barrels, a Ping-Pong table, and Foosball.

whiskey room

The “Whiskey Room”, for entertaining clients and celebrating successful deals.

Carpet served as a powerful design element in our work. Our partnership with Interface designers ensured that the flooring would stand the test of time and complement the space’s personality. By using saturated colors in open areas and subtle colors in private spaces and offices, we were able to incorporate subtle bursts of color without overwhelming the design.

rapid advance 4_575x350

Subtle colors in private spaces and offices.

Overall, the entire design offers a space where Rapid Advance’s culture can flourish. “The original space was dull. It was such a stark contrast to the softball-playing, whiskey-drinking, karaoke-singing, high energy of the Rapid Advance team. It was exciting to create an environment that reflects their thriving culture and attracts great talent,” said Melissa Price, CEO of dPOP.

Posted in Category Design Inspirations, Project Spotlight | 1 Comment

Atlanta BeltLine Transforms the Future of Urban Planning

Lauren White

The future of urban planning is taking shape in Atlanta, thanks to Ryan Gravel and his BeltLine project.

Described as “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States,” the Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project along a 22-mile railroad corridor that was conceived by Gravel as a master’s thesis at Georgia Tech in 1999. The project will connect surrounding neighborhoods through railway, nature trails and parks and greenspaces and provide new housing, events and commerce for the city.

BeltLine Map_575x350

Map of the 22-mile BeltLine surrounding Atlanta.

There’s a great article about this Atlanta “transit makeover” from USA Today here.

Though it has a ways to go to completion, the BeltLine project has already transformed parts of the city from an economic wasteland to an economic hot spot and cultural center.

Fourth Ward Park

Historic Fourth Ward Park south of Ponce City Market and west of the BeltLine trail. (Photo credit: Atlanta BeltLine)

Look at the Ponce City Market as an example. It’s a mixed use development in the renovated Sears, Roebuck & Company building in a neighborhood that used to be full of rock venues and adult entertainment clubs. Now it is a destination for local Atlantans, full of retail shops, restaurants and offices as well as host to many art, music and market events.

Gravel set up his office here in a space that’s inspired by nature. We found some great installations of Interface modular carpet tile throughout!

Gravel office_Atlanta_575x350

Human Nature by Interface, installed in Ryan Gravel’s office.

Gravel office 2_Atlanta_575x350

Another installation of Interface modular carpet, inspired by nature.

The building is pursuing a LEED Core & Shell Silver certification through water-efficient fixtures and landscaping, reclaiming rain water and other building-generated water, and using the latest in LED lighting and efficient HVAC systems.

Ponce City Market outside_Atlanta_575x350

Ponce City Market inside_Atlanta_575x350

Projects like the Atlanta BeltLine and Ponce City Market inspire and encourage Interface to continue Ray’s mantra of “doing well by doing good.”

Posted in Category Culture & Play, Project Spotlight, Sustainability | Leave a comment