Mar 27, 2014
THEME: Workplace

Next Space: The Office of the Future for the Workers of Today

Late last year, a long-term client invited our Washington, D.C. office to participate in a cross between a reality television show and a designer showcase. Our task? Design the “office of the future” for an unknown tenant. Six firms were to choose a suite on an empty floor of an existing office building in Crystal City, Virginia, and design a workplace including enclosed offices, open workspace and a pantry. Working with a design stipend, a maximum construction budget of $65 per square foot (not including design fees or furniture) and eight weeks to design (and another eight to construct), we set out to actualize our vision for a flexible, future-focused space.

Design Lab opened two weeks ago with a series of special open house events organized by the client, all with the hope of generating interest in leasing the six built-out office suites.  The events continue through April, with open houses, receptions, and client tours.  For the organizer, it’s a great way to engage the brokerage community and drum up interest in their available space. For the participating design firms, it was an exercise in balancing creativity, futurist predictions and real-world constraints for the workplace.

Our team wanted to create a flexible, sustainable space that could grow with a tenant and promote creativity and collaboration. Armed with the trends our Interiors leadership tracks each year and a knowledge of the variety of tenants in the neighborhood, we designed Next Space. Where do you go when your business needs to expand? Swing space, growth space, new space – it’s all Next Space.

The reception area provides space for formal entry, informal socializing, and full-staff meeting area with simple transformations. A reception desk on wheels can be rolled out of the way for all-staff meetings or evening events.  


The pantry, adjacent to the reception area, creates a welcoming area for visitors but can also be hidden by a mechanical roller shade in less than a minute. 


The main conference room is bound by a wall of glass doors that open into the reception space, creating an open environment for cocktail parties or lectures with the contiguous reception and pantry spaces. The room is equipped with features that enable collaboration and brainstorming.  One wall houses a flat-screen monitor that can be connected wirelessly to a laptop on the table.  Another is sheathed in BuzziSkin, a new product made of 100% recycled PET plastic. The soft material is tack-able, but also provides sound absorption. The remaining wall is painted with dry-erase paint.


The open office area is laid out with lighting and mechanical service so a variety of work space configurations can be accommodated; turning open work area to private offices can be as simple as putting up a modest wall and door. The overall design allows the tenant to flex from 17 staff to 42 staff with dedicated workstations, possibly more if hoteling stations are employed. 


Dedicated collaboration spaces are distributed among the workstations, with furniture and walls that become writeable canvasses. 

Enclosed offices are slightly oversized—bucking the trend—but done so purposefully so each room can be used as either office, small conference room, or hoteling space for multiple workers to touch-down who may not work in the space full-time. Each office has floor-to-ceiling glass on one wall, allowing access to daylight and exterior views. 

Two small phone rooms provide a place for a private conversation away from the open office, but could easily be converted to a touch-down station for visiting staff or even storage if needed.

Next Space includes many innovative, sustainable products and systems that create a healthier, more energy-efficient working environment. The combination of LED and fluorescent light fixtures keep energy use low. Products with high recycled content have been used throughout the space, and low-VOC paints contribute to a healthy indoor air quality. 

With furniture provided by Steelcase, the bold colors and energetic feel of Next Space create a positive, productive work environment—one that can grow with a tenant for their future.

Project team: Ken Wilson, Jon Penndorf, Haley Russell, Jennifer Rogers.  Marketing assistance from Susan Merrigan, Angela Shouppe, Jerod Turner, Drew Newman, Justin Benjamin.

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