Gensler Atlanta's Office Expansion: A Co-Creating Environment
by Erin Greer
When we started thinking about our expansion space for Gensler Atlanta’s office last May, we wanted to build an environment that would continue to inspire a creative culture, where each individual’s ingenuity can be unleashed and turned into works of collective genius . Ultimately, we wanted to create an explorative environment for our staff, where our clients could come to co-create—a place where we could try new behaviors, gather feedback, and implement our own research findings to create a better workplace.
Watch the video of our space here:
Charting a vision for the space: What’s the Big Idea?
We were determined to enhance our workplace by designing a space that would support our community of designers, visionaries, and implementers who believe in discovery-driven-learning and integrated decision-making.
In September, our design was born. It tells the story that innovation is a journey, and our designers have different venues to explore the various stages of developing fresh, new ideas. As you enter the space, there is a speakeasy experience that creates a level of curiosity about what “the creatives” create behind the magical door. This clear planning strategy allowed us to build a place for experimenting. We created tools on the wall at specific heights, such as pin-ups and displays for mock-ups; writeable and magnetic wallcovering to encourage designers to use the walls as critique space; and movable screens to allow the space to be fluid and support virtual reality explorations. At the space’s bookends, messaging emphasizes the value of the journey. One message asks, “what’s your big idea?” while another answers, “That’s the idea!”
Bringing the Experience Index to life
With the expansion, our Atlanta office put Gensler’s new Experience Index Research findings to the test. Two main findings focused on the complexity of experience: everyone is doing everything everywhere, and single use spaces are becoming obsolete. In fact, 98 percent of employees report doing non-work activities at work. The research also discovered five distinct modes of experience: task, social, discovery, entertainment, and aspiration.
We knew the Gensler Atlanta expansion space needed to offer a variety of unique work settings that provided choices to accommodate the different modes of experience, workstyles, and personalities. The space also had to support our current unassigned seating strategy. This would allow employees freedom to work where they want, and when they want, so they get to determine where they perform at their best. Swapping the typical pencil cup and cactus for a locker gives employees a sense of empowerment and builds a culture of trust, allowing designers to personalize their daily experiences to support their design process.
More and more clients have asked to come to our office and co-create with our designers. It was important that we built a space that allows designers to develop ideas in an explorative environment. Ideas can be messy, and concepts often need spaces and time to iterate and simmer. We built out environments to support ideating by incorporating the pin-up walls and writeable wallcoverings. Creative minds also need spaces to rejuvenate throughout the day. An area called “recharge” has framed views of the city and a tiered space to perch with colleagues and exchange thoughts.
Since opening, the space has impacted our design culture—from music played throughout the day for inspiration to our new weekly “jam session,” which brings together different designers, practices, and disciplines every Monday to discuss design thinking and different points of view to solve for a design problem. While the space has proven to impact social behaviors, our goal is to see how it will continue to enhance our design work and broaden our staff’s mindset.