When btr moved into a 4000m2 1950s office block in Victoria, ec3 Design Group was commissioned to fit out the building and to be 'as efficient as possible in terms of the impression a visitor to the building might have'.
An immediate impact is made by the double-height curved green-and-blue wall which dominates the reception space, and which has openings on to a waiting area for visitors. The basement has been transformed into a restaurant, while the remaining six floors are office space where, says ec3's Ed Caddy, 'one of the main obstacles was the corridor environment'. Although the basic corridor layout has been retained, sloping green walls have been used to relieve their monotony, and etched glass walls on to the offices stop them from becoming too gloomy. Walls between offices were originally intended to double as storage units, with the storage providing acoustic insulation, but the fast-track nature of the project demanded that the walls be installed before the joinery. btr, a corporate manufacturing company, has a dynamic structure, and walls between offices can easily be knocked down and replaced as required; apparently 'they're shifting walls all the time'. Existing Category A ceilings which were sub-standard acoustically and had 'a grid which related to nothing' have been removed. All hvac is concealed within a coffer which runs along the corridor side of the offices, allowing the space by the window to enjoy maximum floor-to-ceiling height.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius
ec3's fit-out for City law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius combines the gravitas you would expect of an established law firm with some more playful touches. The 3000m2 of office space is part of a recently-completed City office building designed by Gensler & Associates.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius' reception area is a luxurious blend of polished limestone, vinyl fabric, slate and eucalyptus, but the coat store is a cheery, light-hearted composition of coloured planes - 'so you can see if anybody is rifling through the coats'.
Large meetings can be held in an imposing conference room with state- of-the-art conference facilities, formal furniture and floor-to-ceiling silk curtains, 'to help the acoustics as much as to block out the light', while smaller meeting rooms are more whimsical - one is circular in plan, another is a curious geometric shape formed by a cube slicing through two elliptical arcs. As Caddy explains, 'It's used by the entertainment tax lawyers so we figured we could give them a bit of fun.'
Secretarial pools are situated next to windows, breaking the convention that lawyers always get the natural light. Lawyers' offices are glazed, but the glass is etched in order to screen the mountains of box files which have piled up against the walls.
'We knew this would happen,' says Caddy. 'The main thing about lawyers is paper. They have tons of it.'
Radical Media produces commercials by hiring directors who lead a peripatetic life, shuttling between offices in London, Los Angeles and New York. 'The company wants its directors to feel at home wherever they are in the world,' explains Caddy. 'We looked at la and New York, and thought, 'How do we come close to achieving the same industrial aesthetic with the building which we have?''
The building in question was 'a rabbit warren' in a Covent Garden warehouse. The first move was to remove internal walls and the existing staircase, leaving a lofty space which is open-plan save for three visiting directors' suites and ground and mezzanine-level meeting rooms. Light fittings were delivered from the us, and are the same as those used in the New York office. The approach to materials is relaxed: the sliding doors to the meeting room were specified as zinc but delivered as galvanised, but 'we all decided we liked the galvanised'. Steelwork has been left as found, down to the positioning numbers painted on by the manufacturer, and the existing floor has been given 'a fairly uniform beat-up look'. The 450m2 fit-out was completed for a cost of £160,000. 'It was difficult for us to do something this raw,' says Caddy. 'We're used to being clean and very detailed. But it worked wonderfully, and it was cheap. And it was nice to have the challenge of being so free.'