Ray Anderson opened his early speeches by saying, “Fellow astronauts on Spaceship Earth, we’re all in this together and we need each other.” It was a reference to Buckminster Fuller — “Bucky” — an iconic architect, inventor and thinker responsible for some of the world’s most enduring design truths.
Ray was born when Bucky was nearly 40 years old, and would have learned about his ideas as an industrial engineering student at Georgia Tech. Perhaps he heard some of Fuller’s most recognizable quotes and filed them away in his subconscious, only to have them resurface nearly 50 years later when he had his own epiphany: that the Earth was in trouble, and that business and industry were the only ones who could reverse the course of the damage. That’s when Ray challenged Interface, asking: “Unless somebody leads, nobody will. Why not us?”
This year, we sponsored the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a competition that seeks to find ideas that “work for 100% of humanity” – Bucky’s goal, and in a way, Ray’s as well.
So right, and so smart, as Ray Anderson would have said. Interface is pleased to support Waterbank Schools by providing funding and access to experts who will help them expand their concept throughout the developing world.
Watch this space for an upcoming post in which we’ll identify the winner of the Challenge, as will a second prize: an award for a finalist whose big idea has struck a chord with those of us continuing Ray’s legacy.
Re:Vision designs a new state-of-the-art headquarters facility for real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle that reflects best practices in commercial design across the board.
If there’s anyone who can truly appreciate the value of well-developed property it’s a real estate professional. So when the powerhouse global real estate advisory and investment management firm Jones Lang LaSalle prepared to relocate its Philadelphia headquarters recently, it was very clear about its requirements—and its intentions to demonstrate to its clients a workspace that would be well ahead of the curve in every way. After interviewing a group of design firms to create its new space, the company’s management honed in on Philadelphia-based Re:Vision Architecture for their ability to think outside the box.
“We were an unconventional choice for JLL because we’re a niche firm that focuses on sustainable design,” says Drew Lavine, Re:Vision’s lead architect on the project. “But they wanted something different and we demonstrated a real commitment to innovation.” JLL’s primary aim was to develop a state-of-the art regional hub that would serve as a functioning example to its clients of innovative practices in tenant fit-outs. “They wanted a space that would reflect their culture and their collaborative work approach,” explains Lavine. “And they also wanted a sustainable design that would meet LEED Platinum standards.”
At the outset of the project, Re:Vision facilitated collaborative programming sessions with JLL to define and develop consensus-based space needs. With a clear sense of its organizational foundation, the architects worked with the client to assess a series of premier locations in the Philadelphia central business district, doing qualitative and comparative analyses of base building systems and amenities as well as space conditions such as views, light, and orientation. They also worked out test fits of the program to the actual spaces for layout efficiency and design concepts, which ultimately led to the selection of a 10,000-sq. ft. space for 40 employees in a Class-A office tower at 1650 Arch Street.
Innovation was a key concept driving the design. “The client really wanted to express a sense of the firm’s vitality, not through excess, which is more common in real estate, but through innovation,” says Lavine. “So we emphasized innovation throughout in our space planning, in our integration of technology, and in our sustainable approach to design from day one.” Like any good real estate professional, JLL is particularly focused on the needs of its clients, who are involved with both commercial office space as well and industrial real estate. “JLL isn’t just brokering deals, it also serves as owner’s representative through design and construction and leasing and property management, too,” says Lavine. To visually inspire both groups of clients on first impression with their design, the architects challenged the spatial and material conventions of Class-A office space by exposing and polishing structural concrete floors, detaching ceilings and exposing deep steel beams, creating freestanding, transparent rooms in large open spaces, and defining public and work spaces with industrial materials, such as plywood and blackened steel.
To address the company’s collaborative approach to working, the architects developed a dynamic workplace organized around “neighborhoods,” which include a mix of structured and informal meeting spaces to accommodate different modes of collaboration. “As they move further away from paper-based working, their work style has become more akin to working in a café than in an office and flexibility was key to the design to accommodate future growth,” says Lavine. Among the different meeting areas anchoring the two ends of the office are a state-of-the art conference room designed for global teleconferencing and an informal café that functions as the multi-use heart of the office. Small zones with lounge seating offer additional relaxed areas for small group interaction. From a planning vantage point, JLL chose to move toward fewer assigned workspaces and more workspace sharing options. Rows of desks in collective work areas were designed to accommodate more “densified” seating over time as the workforce grows. State-of-the-art AV and networking interfaces allow for a variety of collaborative interactions.
Setting the sustainability bar as high as possible, JLL and Re:Vision also aimed for LEED Platinum certification—and the project is the first to achieve it for Commercial Interiors in Center City Philadelphia.
Among the broad cross-section of sustainability strategies employed, the architects reduced built space by more than 20 percent than the original program and more than 30 percent than the original RFP. This unbuilt space translated to a significant reduction in environmental impact not just through the embodied energy involved for new construction but also through reduced energy use over time. Through smart design and fixture selection, they also created a base lighting system that is 23 percent more efficient than code minimums. Plus, advanced occupancy and daylight harvesting controls from Lutron bring this efficiency to more than 50 percent better than code. The architectural and furniture design allow access to daylight and views from every workstation and all collaboration spaces.
One hundred percent of JLL’s furniture from its previous office was diverted from landfills, either by reusing it in the new space or sending it to corporate storage for use in future offices, and more than 60 percent of construction and furniture material was manufactured regionally. The custom carpet tiles from Interface offer high design, low-cost, sustainable characteristics and adhesive-free installation using TacTiles®, which made them a top choice for the architects in the office and conference areas.
In sum, the new headquarters space of this dynamic international real estate firm deftly reflects its culture and supports its business, and also proves JLL’s commitment to walking the talk of well-developed, well-managed, and sustainably designed real estate.
David Ashen’s eponymous New York-based firm, dash design, has been delighting the senses since 2001, from the global retail concept for Godiva Chocolate, to a nation-touring pop-up shop for rapper Jay-Z’s Rocawear brand, to the 2003 reinvention (now defunct) of the infamous Limelight nightclub on 6th Avenue in Manhattan. Yet for all Ashen’s seemingly “cool” connections, what lies underneath is a regular guy who feels strongly that “design equals strategy” and believes first and foremost in creating projects that are innovative and thoughtful for his (mostly) hospitality, retail and restaurant clients. The fact that his work regularly draws media attention has not changed his attitude—a noteworthy point in this era of design stars—that his work is not about him. “My success is solely about whether our work helps my client succeed,” he says. And inevitably, it does. Interface caught up with David Ashen in New York City to find out more about his winning ways.
IF: How would you describe your design process in one word?
D Ash: Strategic
IF: Where do you turn for inspiration in your creative process?
D Ash: I need to get out of my office. I like to walk around. I walk into stores, exhibits, to see anything visual. I like to drive. I get in my car and I drive around neighborhoods to see what’s new. On Saturdays and Sundays I drive through the boroughs [of New York City], and try to stay a little off the beaten path, or I drive to my country house.
IF: What do you enjoy most about your work?
D Ash: I like interacting with my clients and getting into the problem solving, understanding their businesses. I like developing the big idea with the client, then stepping back and watching it all get executed by my team. The most joyful part is developing the relationship with the client and helping them grow. And I like to learn from each project.
IF: What do you believe to be the primary value of good design to your clients?
D Ash: I think design is one layer of a formula. It’s an ingredient…a really solid ingredient. In retail good design will help drive your customers to buy things. In hospitality it will make people feel good. If it looks good and functions well it should drive some experience or behavior you are trying to elicit.
IF: What are you currently working on?
D Ash: I just finished a retail banking concept for Akbank in Istanbul, The Lexington Hotel in New York, and a restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Shanghai. I am working on a hotel renovation in Aruba, the second Urban Farmer restaurant for Sage in Cleveland, Mikimoto in Hong Kong, and the next generation of Godiva stores. I’m also working on a restaurant for Iron Chef Jose Garces, in Moorestown, NJ. [Interestingly, Ashen has designed hotels and stores in New York City, but never a restaurant.]
IF: How does flooring contribute to a space?
D Ash: We often start with the flooring. It is sometimes the hardest surface to work through. Floors and walls set the tone for a space. Carpet is often very personal. In hospitality, carpet either makes a statement, or it doesn’t make a statement.
IF: If you were able to give one piece of advice to young designers just starting out, what would it be?
D Ash: Listen.
IF: What is your favorite space you have ever been in?
D Ash: I had a weird, spiritual experience in La Tourette, a convent designed by Corbusier. I visited the chapel there when I was in grad school. The space was so specifically designed for sound and light. It could only work for what it was designed to do.
As the African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”.
As one company, we have learned we can have an influence on others. But add additional partners and our collective influence grows exponentially.
The mission of the Center for Green Schools at the USGBC is to create green schools for all within this generation. The Green Apple Day of Service is the action step to mobilize volunteers around the world to “transform our schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning places.” At the heart of Green Apple is the need to redesign our learning environments. Who better to lead this effort than interior design professionals?
In Minneapolis, Ariane Laxo, IIDA Northland board member and designer at HGA Architects, had identified the Day of Service as a potential company volunteer event. After being contacted by Interface, she expanded their scope and invited more partners. HGA chose the Lighthouse Academy of Nations, a college-prep charter school in Minneapolis where nearly all students will be the first in their families to attempt post-secondary education and 100% qualify for free or reduced cost lunch. Day of Service projects included helping classroom teachers organize their classrooms, installing carpet, building shelving, painting and more, with teachers, architects, interior designers, Interface employees, and others contributing time and talent. Donations were collected for ceiling tiles, light bulbs, paint, carpet tiles and desks for classrooms. While volunteering, Interface employee Ann Martin’s husband noticed that the bathroom countertops were in poor condition. He is a millworker and recently had some countertops returned that were a great solution for the school. He arranged for a future installation. The cascade of good deeds spurred by the Day of Service has been inspiring.
In Portland, OR, Denise Durell, IIDA Oregon president-elect, contacted local Interface Account Executive Karen Gilroy as soon as she heard about the partnership. Denise had a project in mind for daVinci Arts Middle School, a magnet school focused on the arts. This Portland public school was chosen because of its tie in to the arts—young designers and artists in the making attend this highly creative school. The goal of the Day of Service was to transform the Counseling office. This is a space where students come to get guidance, hang out with peers, and find resources for real “teen” world issues.
More than 30 people participated and the day looked like a ‘while you were out’ design TV show. The imagination and professional design vision from the team, utilizing donated furniture, carpet, paint, and fabric, led to a beautiful and highly functional new space. Check out the before and after pictures in the slide show. You will not recognize the space.
The talent, passion, and professionalism of IIDA members brought a deeper dimension to our Green Apple projects. We thank IIDA for partnering and look forward to collaborating again in the future.
To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. ~Thomas Watson, Sr.
Discover the newest colorways of Walk the Plank in this two-part series showcasing four inspiring palette.
The new Walk the Plank colorline lends itself to some beautiful palettes inspired by the diversity of our planet’s ecosystems; Wind and Water are the second two.
Walk the Plank’s newly expanded colorline invites you to come play with the plush textures and variegated colorways to create interesting combinations within your floor that are sure to take you on an adventure. Our new skinny plank format lends itself perfectly to creating simple and gorgeous natural textures and patterns on the floor, all using approved installation methods. Explore outside of the box and design floors with fluid curves using colourways from the Water palette or dynamic stripes that zig and zag across the floor with the subtle neutrals from the Wind palette. Whether choosing to work with multiple colourways or staying simple and to the point with just one, you are sure to make a visual impact with Walk the Plank.
Wind Palette: The granites and greys of the wind palette sweep you from mountain terrain to stone covered beaches.
Water Palette: The watery aquas and blues of the water palette, float your mind from the shallow Caribbean waters to the deep depths of the Pacific ocean.