Wednesday, May 20, 2015
In 2015, the BCO will be venturing abroad to the city that many regard as the birthplace of the modern office – Chicago. In the BCO’s first long haul adventure since the highly memorable and successful Conference of 2007 in New York, and in the year of our 25th Anniversary, we will be going back to the source and at the same time asking the question “what of the future”?
What can we learn from the innovation which created the first “skyscraper” – the Home Insurance Building – which topped out 130 years ago at all of 180ft tall, which we can apply to the workspace which we are creating today and in the future? Cities in America are facing the same challenges as we are in the UK, seeking to find a way to accommodate the demands of a technology hungry and sophisticated new demographic – both at work and at leisure, and in Chicago we will be comparing how different (and how similar) the responses have been on either side of the Atlantic, and looking at how those responses might shape the new cities and new workspaces springing up in Asia and the Far East.
We have given Apple flack for the suburban nature of its new campus in Cupertino. But we’ve been impressed with the company’s recent attempts to make things more eco-friendly, adding shuttles, bike lanes, a bus transit center, and walking paths. Now we hear Apple is purchasing 130 megawatts worth of energy a year from First Solar. The purchase will power the new HQ as well as all of its other California offices, a large data center, and the 52 retail stores in the state.
This week an already roiling real estate market in Chicago’s West Loop got hotter still. The latest entrant is a $400 million mixed-use tower designed by Goettsch Partners—a 350-room, four-star hotel beneath about 600,000 square feet of offices that will surely stoke the continued evolution of the area from post-industrial grittiness into a sleek, high-rent hub for technology companies and haute cuisine.
London-based Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has applied for planning permission to build a 67-acre headquarters for Google in London’s King’s Cross, a swiftly evolving district. The firm’s designs incorporate a steel-framed structure with cross-laminated timber panels complemented by bold primary colored exposed steel elements. The plan integrates a rooftop garden along with shops, cafes, and restaurants on the ground level. Construction is set to begin early next year. Read More
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Tietz-Baccon fabricated a 7-foot by 23-foot freestanding wall, and a 10-foot by 160-foot decorative wall for Enova’s Chicago offices.
As more and more companies embrace open workspaces that support collaborative and impromptu group work, acoustics are of utmost importance to employee productivity. To craft sound-absorbing feature walls for the Chicago offices of financial firm Enova, Brininstool + Lynch turned to fabrication studio Tietz-Baccon. Their six-person facility in Long Island City, New York, makes bespoke solutions for a variety of design-minded clients who appreciate—and ultimately benefit from—the founders’ architectural background: Erik Tietz and Andrew Baccon met as students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
“On the fabrication end, we take nonstandard projects and make them achievable by relying heavily on our digital capabilities,” Baccon said. “Brininstool + Lynch had a concept that was worked out very well and was looking for someone who could execute on a tight budget in a short period of time.” According to Baccon, the architects came to the fabricators with a family of shapes and a way of aggregating them, which was then applied to different materials, helping Tietz-Baccon deliver finished projects very close to the firm’s original requests. “There was good collaborative discussion, and a back-and-forth to tweak and bring the concept to realization. They didn’t have to compromise their idea that much.”
The Outdoor Office
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Through July 15
Jonathan Olivares takes a human-centered approach to industrial design and research. His 2011 book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published by Phaidon, provides an encyclopedic history of the office chair from 1840 to present day; building on this research, Olivares presents the speculative project The Outdoor Office (above). The advent of mobile communication means that work can be done outside of traditional offices and that the utility of outdoor space is no longer limited to recreation and leisure. Olivares examines how productive work environments can be created with new types of outdoor furniture and architecture, with consideration of privacy, shelter, and adaptability. The exhibition showcases the research and results of his findings, with images drawn from television, film, and existing offices, in addition to conceptual projects and models developed for new outdoor work spaces.
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A custom-perforated screen balances lighting and privacy in a three-story New York office space.
Ceilings are not just for the ceiling anymore. “With architecture becoming more organic in shape, we are becoming the architecture, not just a ceiling or wall,” said Nancy Mercolino, the president of architectural ceiling, wall, and enclosure manufacturer Ceilings Plus. This fall, the company completed a 33-foot-tall painted aluminum feature wall at the Manhattan offices of a global investment management firm. Designed by New York-based a+i design corp, the project was a consolidation of the firm’s offices in the city, adding three floors to the company’s existing three-story office space in a Midtown building.
It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday.
We know Thom Mayne and Morphosis are moving. Now we know they’re moving REALLY soon. Their new headquarters, located just next to the new Expo Line tracks in Culver City, started construction last summer and are wrapping up this month. They need to move in by July 1, said Mayne, because the lease to their rented warehouse space next door is up. That should get things moving, despite some delays because of this year’s heavy rains.
Our friends at Morphosis just moved into an interim location (as posted on their website) at 3440 Wesley Street in Culver City. The firm has been hesitant to give many details about their upcoming space, a former commercial building right next door that they say they are remodeling, merely stating that it will “be sustainable” and “bring back the integration of the shop with the studio space.” But when we checked out the location we were surprised to find the approximately 13,000 square foot building razed except for the north and east walls. No one mentioned that they were constructing a new building! Read More