The Daily Record | Office Design for the New Millennial

Office Design for the New Millennial

Mary Medland, April 2009 Download PDF

The days of your parents’ office – plain looking, with four walls, a door and a Smith-Corona – are numbered.

Driven by technology and the millennial generation – those born in the 1982 and thereafter – the workplace today is changing dramatically.

Francis Cauffman – a more thant 50-year old firm with offices in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York – has tapped into a growing niche of designing offices for younger workers in the corporate institutional world.

Charles Patterson, an architect, with SMG architects, points that younger people are seeking a workplace that is casual. “These people want to bring their dog to work or to take their laptop to a Starbucks and work from there,” he says. “It’s no longer a matter of just sitting in their cubicle. They want a more relaxed environment.”

And, counterintuitive as it may seem, a less stuffy environment typically translates into a more productive work force, especially with those employed in creative endeavors.

“We hear that younger people want a relaxed, casual workplace, but one these is nonetheless professional and that has a lot of vibrant interpersonal exchange. In this firm, we try to emulate that communal spirit,” says Steven Ziger, an architect with Ziger/Snead.

“And with young employees, having access to really good coffee is a big plus.”

Teamwork in the office is becoming more and more important.

Today’s office lunchroom is more likely to resemble Starbucks than the dreary place of yesteryear.

Even law firms are getting away from the traditional mahogany paneling and prints of ducks and boats. “When Arnold Weiner moved his firm to Clipper Mill, he wanted a modern fun environment,” says Patterson. “He wanted to keep the industrial feel of the exposed brick, and we used a lot of sliding glass and steel doors.

“Arnold has a very good appreciation of the craft of things, and he loves art and photography. We also designed and built some of the furniture for the firm.”

Of course, traditional offices have not disappeared. Because of confidentiality concerns, law offices have doors that close as do those offices for people who work in HR.

What’s key for architects who are successfully building new workplaces – or, as in the case of Arnold Weiner, remodeling an existing space – is staying on top of cutting-edge technology.

Ziger agrees with Campbell. “We are constantly researching online and developing those social networks,” he says. “All of our projects incorporate new technology, and we always take into account the interpersonal dynamics of a given workplace.”

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