Five practice groups unite their expertise.
From launch to delivery, the degree of expert alignment and synchronization between all aspects of a design project will determine the success or failure of an outcome. Although workplace strategies and design solutions that are geared to increase productivity, encourage innovation and growth, strengthen brand, and nurture wellness depend on the seamless convergence of multiple disciplines, many architecture firms treat consulting and design as separate phases. Not so at IA Interior Architects, where the integration of five practice areas—Workplace Strategy, Design, Design Technology, Environmental Graphic Design, and Wellness/Sustainability—as one team for each engagement has long been at the core of our practice.
Today, that integration is more effective than ever before through the inspired use of new technologies and data-informed architecture. IA’s Design Technology team, the group responsible for bringing together and implementing the best in technology in the service of design, has created a backbone for communication, process, and efficiency—a custom IA platform on a global scale that integrates data and project teams at any location. IA’s cloud environment, a feature of the platform, allows for the secure sharing and merging of strategic, project, and facility information across the lifecycle of a project. It enables a workflow process based on best-in-class tools and software, (including Revit, Affinity, Reality Capture, and Virtual Reality Immersion) that lets teams work in unison, in real time. The advantages are many and comprehensive—data can be shared by the right teams, at the right time to facilitate the best decisions; clients can virtually explore and respond to a proposed design well before it is built.
The overarching mission and passion behind our practice remains the delivery of great and innovative design that empowers clients to live their vision for the workplace and achieve their goals. All five IA practice groups are key to a design’s success. At the start of an engagement, depending on the challenge, our workplace strategies expertise might initiate defining the workplace direction through visioning, focus groups, surveys, or other data gathering techniques. This initial work articulates the goals, establishes the baseline of the current state, and begins to identify the attributes of the desired state.
To communicate identity, information, and wayfinding, and help shape the experience that connects people with a sense of place, IA’s environmental graphic design (EGD) team brings together many disciplines, including graphics, architecture, interiors, landscape, and industrial design. The EGD team works with clients to determine how best the physical environment can message client branding and cultural goals through the new design. The visual experience and sense of place established through design are powerful factors in the first impression and on-going relationship between client and audience, be it employees, visitors, customers, or vendors.
With the workforce spending longer hours at the office, designing for wellness to promote health and well-being is as critical as designing for sustainability. Simply put, healthy workers are not only happier, but more productive, contribute more to the organizational culture, and constitute a plus for the bottom line. Well versed in the seven tenants of the now-in-place WELL Building Standard, as well as biophilia (man’s need for connection to the world of living things) and LEED standards, the wellness/ sustainability team provide clients with options for the well-being of their organization.
We listen, consider, understand, and absorb our client’s culture, business drivers, and diverse goals—and strive to exceed their expectations. As a diverse group of experts, we work as an integrated team singularly focused on the desired outcome. Each of the following three examples offer a glimpse of how our integrated approach works for and with clients to achieve their ideal workspace.
Case Study No. 1: Rovi in Wayne, Pennsylvania
For Rovi, a global leader in digital entertainment technology, the goal was to create and transition staff to a new workplace model that would complement the firm’s new branding. The first project to fully embrace the new model houses Rovi’s CEO and key executives, creating the opportunity for leadership to promote first-hand the benefits of the new model.
Each Rovi location is a unique mix of staff work types, from musical reviewers and writers to software engineers. IA led focus groups nationwide with diverse Rovi staff, followed by an executive visioning session, and program interviews with different work groups. During this period, IA’s strategy and design teams worked as one to establish a workplace model with a consistent image and environment for the roll out of new Rovi offices. Corporate guidelines and standards applicable to all Rovi locations were also developed. The design embraces the varying functions of the work environment and offers a balance of focused and calming spaces with collaborative and dynamic areas. Environmental graphics integrate brand colors and Rovi’s distinctive use of hexagonal shapes and icons. Clean lines, natural light and materials, and brand colors capture the Rovi spirit.
IA Design Director Pietro Silva says, “IA’s Design Intelligence platform helped us to better communicate the design to both the client and the team at large (contractor, sub-contractors, and client project management), as well as facilitate the coordination of multiple IA offices. It was also essential to our ability to seamlessly coordinate with the local mechanical/electrical engineers and avoid in-field conflicts.”
Case Study No. 2: Sonos in Boston
A leader in smart speaker systems, Sonos engaged IA to work with its real estate team and reinvent the Sonos workplace experience of brand, mission, and innovation at their new Boston office. IA strategists held visioning sessions with global teams and leadership at multiple levels; took a deep-dive into analyzing the people experience of resident and visiting employees, clients, consultants, and recruits; and did a workplace strategy analysis that married residential, retail, workplace, and acoustic factors. The results defined the new vision for the Sonos workplace, showcasing the brand’s products in residential setting intrinsic to the brand.
Starting at the elevator lobby with branded artwork, the Sonos experience moves to the reception area that embodies the feeling of “home” and well-being through finishes, furniture, and scale, and follows the main circulation path that streams through functional and easily reconfigurable workspace zones, customized for the workflow of each department and punctuated by living rooms—places of respite and spontaneous collaboration. Custom acoustic and product development labs are integral to the design. Listening rooms scattered throughout are studio-like environments where clients, visitors, and employees can listen, test, and engage with Sonos products. A monumental steel-and-wood stair in the main café area features a multi-story living wall of green foliage that speaks to wellness and biophilia.
Case Study No. 3: WILLIAM Blair in Chicago
For a new 360,000-square-foot workplace, global investment banking and asset management firm William Blair engaged IA for workplace strategy and design services, environmental graphics, and change management. After 20 years in the same location, this was an opportunity to launch a new workplace environment that could carry the firm well into the future.
Client liaison, Workplace & Real Estate Management Director Erin Murray Butler wanted to fully understand how employees were working, what barriers the current work environment posed, and what would be the most effective approach to developing a new workplace and actively engaging the workforce in the process. IA’s integrated team responded with a strategy and initial design approach that included a concept space to test the impact of decisions already made and experiment with additional design possibilities. A variety of space types, technologies, and furniture configurations were explored and evaluated over 24 weeks. Thirty representatives from seven major client business units moved in for two- to three-week increments. IA’s EGD team provided messaging calculated to complement space use. In a huddle room, for example, subtle signage (dubbed “Thought Provokers”) displays the words Chat. Explain. Review.
Butler tells us, “The concept space had significant impact in two ways— it brought to life many of the key ideas that emerged from the workplace strategy and were developed as part of the initial design steps, and it is the cornerstone of our change management strategy. Making it real for our employees has helped them to experience new ways of working and get excited about the many different attributes our new workplace will offer.
“IA’s knowledge of our culture and how we work has been invaluable as we develop a workplace that truly suits us,” she says.