Page N1.1 . 12 March 2003                     
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    Design for Business 2002

    by ArchitectureWeek

    For each of the last six years, McGraw-Hill's Business Week and Architectural Record magazines have joined forces to honor projects that highlight how architecture can support business goals by improving image and workplace efficiency. These award-winning projects may succeed by making employees happier, by enhancing the experience of the visiting public, or generally easing the interactions between people and the architectural space they inhabit.

    One of the eleven 2002 award winners demonstrates changing attitudes toward workplace design. The Multi-Use Centre for client Dominion Funds in Auckland, New Zealand is an open environment designed to foster connectivity among staff, break down corporate hierarchies, and provide gathering areas to stimulate creativity. Architect JASMAX Ltd., in association with Bligh Voller Nield and in collaboration with Dominion Funds employees, designed an open-plan office to engender comfort, good cheer, and productivity.

    The Multi-Use Centre plan organizes teams around a central "park" area for meeting, work, and social gathering. The architects claim that the very culture of this company has changed. A post-occupancy evaluation shows an increase in verbal communication, a reduction in e-mail by 30 percent, a 50-percent reduction in staff turnover, and a 10 to 15 percent increase in worker output.

    Blue-collar productivity can also be improved through architecture, as demonstrated by architects Davis Brody Bond. Their factory design for Valeo Electrical Systems in San Luis Potosi, Mexico is said to be a metaphor for the owner's philosophy. Valeo is one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive equipment, and the company wanted their new Mexican plant to instill an atmosphere of equality and communication among workers. Long spans are made possible by a modular tensile exoskeleton that gives the building its distinctive appearance. The column-free workplace allows the company to develop innovative production methods that reduce costs.

    In Houston, another BW/AR award winner strives to accommodate visitors as much as workers. The Texas Children's Hospital Clinical Care Center, by FKP Architects, shows what can be done with spatial manipulation and a liberal dose of color. Clinic floors are organized around two-story, color-coded play areas, featuring bold geometric shapes. These areas assist with wayfinding and provide recreation for children. Professional offices are located on the floors above or beneath clinics, allowing caregivers ease of movement among them.

    A fourth example is the Department of Facilities and Real Estate Services at the University of Pennsylvania. MGA Partners, Architects replaced overcrowded, dispersed offices with new quarters to demonstrate the value of good architecture and planning in an academic environment. They rehabilitated an abandoned 1929 railroad warehouse on the east end of the campus. The project celebrates its industrial character and revitalizes a previously undesirable edge of campus. A post-occupancy survey reveals increased morale and improved communication, and administrators report greater ease in recruiting and retaining personnel.

    Two other BW/AR award-winning projects, both in the United Kingdom, have already been featured in ArchitectureWeek: a worker-friendly call center for Cellular Operations by Richard Hywel Evans and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, by engineers Gifford and Partners and architects Wilkinson Eyre.

    The next round of this AIA sponsored awards program has an entry registration due date of March 14, 2003 with a submission deadline of April 18, 2003.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

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    ArchWeek Image

    One of the eleven Business Week/ Architectural Record design awards went to the Multi-Use Centre for Dominion Funds in Auckland, New Zealand. It demonstrates changing attitudes toward workplace design.
    Photo: Kim Christensen Photographer

    ArchWeek Image

    The tensile exoskeleton of the Valeo Electrical Systems plant in Mexico provides a column-free workplace so the company can experiment with more efficient production methods.
    Photo: Jaime Navaro

    ArchWeek Image

    The Texas Children's Hospital Clinical Care Center uses color and bold geometric shapes to assist with wayfinding.
    Photo: Craig Dugan/ Hedrich Blessing

    ArchWeek Image

    The Department of Facilities and Real Estate Services at the University of Pennsylvania celebrates the industrial character of a 1929 railroad warehouse.
    Photo: Barry Halkin

     

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