Our New Work Environment
07.20.2011 | By: Jeremy Berg
Our environment influences the way we act, move, talk, and relate with one another. This image by Bernard Tschumi speaks rather loudly to this point. Think about it, if the window was not there maybe that person might not be falling. Whether we want to admit it or not architecture, the built environment, plays a rather large role in everyone’s life.
If an alley is dimly lit and has niches that you can’t see around, you’ll find your heart beating faster, your nervousness grows, the pace of your step speeding up, and there is probably no one even lurking there. You didn’t feel safe, you felt vulnerable. As a young student I’ll never forget the feeling of walking in to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. As a know-it-all college student, I often scoffed at the notion of a higher power and religion, but when I entered the cathedral, I had nothing but reverence and respect for what was going on around me. One might say that I finally stopped acting as a jerk, but I’ll tell you, the sheer magnificence of the structure and the space, struck me, suddenly I knew I was small and insignificant. I learned that day about the power of architecture.
NIKA has been growing and has recently moved into a new space, I was the part of the team that designed and oversaw its construction. We are an architect and engineering practice. Those of you who know something about that, it can be similar to dogs and cats. The truth is that from tension, comes power, we have advantages that other straight A or E firms do not, we have each other. We have Mechanical engineers to prove how much energy we are saving, we have electrical engineers that are developing innovative solutions for our buildings that not only save money, but also provide pleasing light. The challenge was how do we harness this power, what can the architecture do to reinforce this? We designed a space that was all about collaboration. Ninety percent of the staff is working in an open office environment, and we designed the workstations to be small, but not too small. Why would we do this? We did it so that people would stand up and use a collaboration area. The best part is a colleague will walk by and see you sitting at a large table with drawings open and ask “What you working on?” BOOM! Life just got interesting, people are sharing ideas, growing their personal perspectives. I find that to be very exciting. I’m an architect, and do I want to listen to the security engineer tell me I can’t have any windows? I think you know the answer to that, but guess what? As we talk we figure out a way to both get what we want out of a project, and that is what sets us apart. So I know you’re wondering, do the windows in your new office open? Guess you’ll just have to come by and find out.