Page B2.1 . 29 March 2006                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department
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New Shapes for Workspace

by Colleen Lyman

Flexible and open plans have been standard in corporate offices for several decades. During this time, architects have struggled to design open spaces that still provide private, supportive environments for the workers.

Now, new materials are available to help meet this challenge, and increasingly designers are applying principles of sound masking, ergonomics, "green" building, and daylighting. In addition to fostering a comfortable setting, these improvements can also facilitate privacy, increase productivity, and promote safety. Browse through current magazines of corporate office design and a few trends emerge.

Space and Materials

Certain design practices can create a perception of enlarging physical space. A more spacious feel can be generated by opening up walls, using expansive specialty ceilings, and inviting in more daylight.

It also helps to choose a color scheme that makes employees feel comfortable. Dark, rich colors, such as chocolates and plums, give a contemporary, yet classic feel to a corporate office. Light-colored walls and floors make small rooms look larger.

Wood and other natural materials can be expensive, so some designers turn instead to "faux" products. Imitation materials such as manufactured stone veneer and faux slate and cedar can look as good as the real thing. Acrylic blocks, substituting for glass blocks, provide the light transmission and privacy of glass without the weight or difficulty of installation.   >>>

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Innovative ceilings can help enliven office landscapes.
Photo: USG

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A combination of wood finishes and metals has become increasingly popular.
Photo: USG


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