Inconvenient Architecture

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A thundering clap. Incessant hammering. Banging, scraping, grinding, pounding.

The words alone are enough to induce a headache! Imagine trying to work under those conditions. Well, flash back a few months and that is exactly what the Studio G team had to endure during our very own office renovation project. Okay, okay, perhaps we’re being a tad dramatic, but a construction project in an occupied space is no joke. But as the dust settles and we approach the official unveiling of Studio G’s gorgeous new work space, we’d like to share some of our hard-fought wisdom (and newfound sympathy for clients’ construction woes). As one Studio G staffer leading the reno charge put it, “Renovating our office was like being drafted into a war zone.” (We’re assuming pun intended.) In that vein, we present below our designer’s rules for an occupied office renovation:

  1. Plan ahead – Renovations require detailed logistical planning. Diligent preparation can save time, money and energy. But still…
  1. Expect interruption – Workflow will inevitably be affected, so be equipped to adjust schedules, hold meetings in alternate locations, etc. A little flexibility goes a long way.
  1. Appoint a point person – Having a single person (often the project manager) act as primary liaison between clients, consultants and contractors is important. In this case, our trusty designer pulled double duty – representing both Client and Architect.
  1. Embrace small victories – Renovating forced us to undertake a massive and long overdue cleanup. We purged old materials and files, donated supplies and fixtures when possible, and used the opportunity to start fresh by making lasting positive changes to both personal and shared workspaces. We also set up a temporary working kitchen – and hey – the paper plates saved us from doing the dishes for a few weeks. Small victories, right?!
  1. Re-route – Renovation may require phased closures of certain entry and exit points. Be open to new circulation paths and be sure to provide legible temporary signage. For example, Brewery Studios staff had to take a winding route down a set of stairs, outside the building and around the block to access restrooms. While this was a bit of a hassle (especially if the weather wasn’t cooperative), the ‘potty-walk-around-the-block’ as it was dubbed did afford a break from computer screens and an opportunity for a little exercise and fresh air. Again, small victories, remember?
  1. Communicate – Keep the process as transparent as possible, without involving staff in unnecessary minutia. When tenants feel that they are included, they are less anxious about progress. Disseminate information often and quickly. Update your team regularly with project milestones, schedule info, anticipated disruptions, deliveries, progress photos, etc. One note to keep in mind: people latch onto dates like security blankets, and if something doesn’t happen exactly as planned chaos can ensue. If this occurs, remain calm, consider alternate solutions, and refer to Rule #2
  1. Keep your eyes on the prize – Just when you think the noise can’t get louder, or the circulation routes can’t get more detoured, take a deep breath and remember the end goal: a new and improved, beautiful, functional and inspiring office space. Well worth the battle!

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