by Stephanie Goldberg
The opportunity to expand a project one has already completed, to be able to design for the same client again, is one that does not along come every day. We at Lab have been fortunate to have two projects that fit this category. With the second round, we find ourselves and our clients taking stock, evaluating what worked best, and what did not, in order to inform the new design. While we think about how we might evaluate a completed project, building a second iteration of a space allows the designer to translate that evaluation into a new or revised concept.
At Idenix, it was a few years before they decided to fit out a small space on the first floor of their building for additional offices and conference space. The work on the fourth floor consisted of laboratory space and offices. In designing their headquarters, we worked with them to develop a specific office wall system and office furnishings and layouts. Responding to their desire for collaborative space, we worked in “huddle” spaces within the open offices. Having a chance to review how they use the space currently, we realized that they did not use the open huddle spaces, preferring to stand up and talk between cubicles, or use conference rooms. So, in our recent iteration, we focussed on reinforcing the connection between open office desks and conference space. The glass wall systems and furniture systems developed in the first design are being extended to the first floor annex. Similar to Bluebird, the desire is to take the main design elements and continue them in the new space, establishing a relationship between floors.
Importantly, not only was the goal to create connection through the design and finishes, but through the program. At Bluebird Bio, the first floor kitchen design was intentionally downplayed in terms of finishes and fitout in order to encourage staff to come upstairs for the larger, more interactive cafe. At Idenix, shower rooms and additional conference rooms were added to the new annex to similarly encourage people from the upper floor to come down and use the new space.
Overall, in both cases there is strong desire to promote connectivity between two disparate spaces of the same company through design, color and program. When an office or lab is in use for a while, one is able to take advantage of that time and refine the design for the second round. However, what is most important is to do the research and collaborative work with the client in the first round, in order to develop the systems that work for them at the outset. In the end, they will want to be able to take those ideas and expand with them to new spaces, and the better the groundwork we lay, the more easy and straightforward it is for our clients to move forward with expansion and growth.
Stephanie Goldberg, AIA, OAA,NCARB, LEED AP is a principal at LAB/ Life. Science. Architecture, Inc. of Boston.