Builder Digs: An Office Space for a Construction Company

Presented by: Kendra Ordia

Designer’s Statement
The driving force behind the interior design for a local branch office of an international construction management company was to create an environment showcasing vernacular construction typologies representing original craftsmanship and the uniqueness of the local culture through the use of reclaimed, utilitarian materials embodying an honest attention to detail.  

The 11,000 square foot tenant finish-out was completed in November 2014 and is located in an office park tucked in to the edge of the Texas Hill Country just west of Austin.  The location was selected by the client as they desired to shift from an over-crowded and outdated office space unreflective of their corporate culture and growing project portfolio.  They recognized the necessity to work in a more open and collaborative environment to strengthen communication and team transparency.  Their new office space needed to allow for planned and sustained growth, integrate technology-rich collaboration zones, and flexible space to support functions ranging from safety training for 20 people to “all-hands” meeting with approximately 100 people.  The interiors also needed to permit celebrating the success of the employees and local office without being overtly branded with corporate identity.  

The execution of the design, documentation, and construction was an ideal collaborative approach to problem solving.  Having previously worked with the construction management project managers on several other projects, communications were enhanced by existing relationships allowing the senior designer to define their space, arrive at solutions to reduce construction costs, and develop optimal schedules with the company’s management of their own project.  With the construction manager becoming the client, it became even more important that the design intent, drawings, and construction detailing withstand intense scrutiny.  

Furniture and finish selection were an important feature for creating an environment that was relaxed and not overly corporate; the space needed to be durable enough for the mostly-male employees to put their boots up on the table. Local fabricators were contracted for large rolling steel-framed partitions, a reception desk, light fixtures, and the charred wood ceiling.  Extensive amounts of reclaimed wood from a local millworker added texture to the lobby and meeting areas while the existing drywall at the concrete columns was stripped back to expose the structure.

Standard ceiling tiles were removed from the open office area where coordination of MEP systems became a design feature highlighted against the concrete structure and suspended wood fiber panels installed to assist with acoustic control.  Colors reflective of the brand are seen in controlled locations and become a visible feature breaking the zone of open workstations.  A mix of custom and contract pieces combine to create industrial and masculine spaces. The addition of an old wood bar salvaged from the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin creates a distinctive center piece for daily casual meetings and larger office functions.  

Note: the submitter worked as the Senior Interior Design for the entirety of the project and was responsible for concept development, space planning, FF&E selection, construction documentation and administration.  Coordination for code reviews, MEP, and life safety were completed with consultants.