Creative people need inspiration. And the new offices of T M Advertising in Dallas, Texas, where creative ideas are conjured everyday, brim with uplifting energy. “Magic happens when people have no walls and agendas around them,” says Bill Oakley, T M’s creative director. “We wanted a space that was fresh and open, and made you want to work that way.” With this brief, the design team from Gensler’s Dallas office crafted a light-filled, dynamic workspace for the company that not only encourages collaboration and the free flow of ideas, but has literally transformed how its employees do business.
Not long ago, however, it was an entirely different story. T M’s previous office, in a space that formerly housed the billing department of a large energy company, was completely unsuited to the nature of its work. “The space had high, closed-panel workspaces with no connectivity between project teams,” says Christopher Goggin, senior associate and design director from Gensler. “It was the opposite of what they needed—and we were meant to undo all that.”
In contrast, the new offices, spanning 49,000 sq. ft.
on three floors of a glass-clad building in Victory Plaza at the American Airlines Center—Dallas’s premier sports and entertainment venue—is an ideal setting for the advertising firm. American Airlines is one of T M’s primary clients, and other nearby buildings along a pedestrian concourse in the lively entertainment district house sports radio and TV news stations, a bevy of restaurants, and other creative enterprises.
Still, the new space was not without its challenges. Primary among them was the shape of the building itself. “The office floors were built on top of an underground parking structure, so it has an atypical floor plate,” says Goggin, who adds that the awkwardly located core pinches one side of the space, and columns appear to be randomly placed, making planning workspaces within a traditional
grid all but impossible.
“We took the problems and made them assets by enclosing the core with in elliptical structure and radiating low-profile, workbench-style furniture arrangements out from the core in an open plan environment that allows everyone in the office to enjoy light and views and easy access to one another,” Goggin explains. The elliptical element and other occasional colorful features, such as a bright yellow staircase that links the three floors, boost the energy and add a sense of flowing movement to the space. “These elements introduce something architecturally engaging without being overly tricky, unlike the slides and carousels and other thematic elements that one often sees in other ad agencies,” Goggin explains. “The owners wanted opportunities to do creative work, but not in a space that would compete with their work.”
As such, the walls of the space are white with neutral flooring materials that establish a sophisticated backdrop for the occasional pops of color and subtle graphic references to the industry. Gray concrete floors define the circulation zones, and give way to Plynyl® checkerboard floor tiles in shades of gray in the work areas. Interface carpet was used in the glass-enclosed conference and small meeting rooms to provide a sense of richness and texture in these gathering areas.
“In the places you see clear glass, the change of flooring gives you an obvious cue that you’re at a transition point,” says Goggin. “We especially liked the Interface product because it produces a simple, subtle interesting texture that’s different from what you’d usually see in a typical office space.” The designers also liked the charcoal color of the material. “Its dark neutral hue provides weight and visual balance at the floor against the white walls,” he says. And even though there were no LEED requirements with this project, Goggin notes that Gensler designers always try to incorporate environmentally friendly products and “Interface has a good sustainability story,” he adds. The tiles also help with acoustics in the conference and meeting rooms, where a majority of surfaces are glass. Cost, too, was an issue, so materials were chosen to offer the most design for the price, according to Goggin.
Instead of any specific branding elements, shots of saturated color with grayed undertones that provide a sophisticated twist add subtle notes of vibrancy to the space. Windows overlooking the plaza let client visitors view their own advertising on big screens mounted in the plaza courtyard just outside. Listed by Advertising Age as One of the best Places to Work in 2012 and earning both IIDA and TEXO Construction Awards last year, the new office space is a key to their employees’ positive attitudes, believe T M’s principals. “The spirit of the design is light, clean, and happy,” says Hal Dantzler, T M’s director of integrated production. “It is a happy place to work.” An added bonus: the firm’s clients regularly want to meet in the new offices and spend more time there, too.
Photography by Bruce Damonte