Mechanical contracting firm, Allied Mechanical Services (AMS) recently completed a 4,673 square-foot renovation that included nine private offices and two workstations at its Grand Rapids site, 3860 Roger B. Chaffee Memorial Drive SE. Custer Inc., a provider of workplace design, office furniture, integrated technology, and interior remodels, oversaw the project. To better support its upbeat, collaborative culture, AMS asked for a design that would open up space, bring natural light to every workstation, and integrate technologies that allowed them to livestream meetings with its Kalamazoo office. Custer interior designer, Heather Harrington, says that the AMS remodel reflects a trend among West Michigan industries that are finding creative ways to utilize a limited footprint.
“Creative solutions in the industrial sector are becoming increasingly evident as company real estate shrinks along with multiple generations trying to work together,” Harrington says. “This means allowing people the choice to work in a space that encourages focus/heads-down work with little distraction or open collaborative work with access to quick conversation and feedback.”
Factors impacting those design decisions include budget, available real estate, potential for growth, the company’s generational make-up, and building codes.
“The spaces in which people work, along with furniture and technology, should work in harmony to empower people to do their best work,” she says. “Based on a company’s goals for growth and success, there is a need to specifically design space to help influence productive behaviors.”
Constructed with glass walls and no ceilings, AMS’ private offices face each other so that staff find it easy to catch a fellow team member’s attention. A central, open area provides collaborative space. Before the remodel, some AMS offices had no windows. The redesign brings sunshine to every office in the building.
“Access to sunlight can make a large impact on productivity. The sun influences our circadian rhythms, which ties into our mood and behavior,” Harrington says. “Access to daylight is a great way to provide employees with stimulation and helps reduce stress levels. You can see how this would translate to employee health with the potential for decrease in illness and overall happier workers.”
Another important facet of the project, integrating technology into the redesign, not only considered how content would be shared within meeting spaces, but also incorporated sound-masking to reduce noise levels throughout the office.
“When integrating technology into an office or workspace, it’s important to consider how the space is going to be utilized and what the user is trying to accomplish,” Harrington says. “Is it a formal or informal meeting space, is content being shared, is audio important? Does the space need to encourage a more active meeting? In that case, we would want to influence brainstorming and potentially the means to save that type of behavior digitally.”
While Custer handled the renovation, Harrington notes that AMS staff played an active role in the project. AMS directed Custer to use pipes, like those used in the mechanical systems they sell, as elements in custom cupboards and shelving. In addition, AMS built its own custom metal conference table.
“Allied Mechanical is on the leading edge when it comes to construction technology and we wanted our office to reflect our commitment to innovation. The Custer team did an excellent job incorporating design elements that reflect our company’s values,” says Steve Huizinga, president of AMS. “We are proud of our company culture, so it was also important for us to design a work environment that supports collaboration and employee engagement.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Tara West, Custer Inc.