“Workplace of the Future: an Open Space for Open Minds”

[excerpt from the Chronicle Herald 26-09-2014:]

Interest in open-space, collaborative workspace by some of the world’s bigger employers is trickling down and creating demand for specialized local design, said Jane Abbott, with Abbott Brown Architects in Halifax.  “A bit part of our work relates to workspace design for new buildings and also for redesigns of older buildings.”

Abbott said the architectural field is a leader in the collaborative workspace concept and is adapting these principles to other business environments. “The thinking today is there should be fewer private offices and more executive staff out on the floor. Even some of the most conservative industries are embracing this concept.”

Gone are the days when a company could lay down the required number of cubicles and interconnected corridors and expect to create a happy and productive workplace, she said.  Designers are increasingly eliminating much of the executive office space that lines the periphery of traditional workplaces in the style of the 1970s.  “Our job as architects is to bring in as much natural light and space for casual collaboration as possible to create an environment of engagement,” Abbott said.

Abbott Brown was involved with the recent retrofit of the Henry Hicks Building at Dalhousie University which just won a Lieutenant Governor’s Design Award.

The firm was also lead designer in the reconfiguration of a large space at Park Lane mall into the new Halifax headquarters of DHX Media Ltd. “With the DHX Media project, meeting rooms were placed in the middle of areas where people circulate,” she said. “We reduced the number of private offices so that more executive staff would mix on the floor with other staff.”

Abbott Brown also designed the interior of the new Music Nova Scotia location on Gottingen Street where space was at a premium.  “Private office space was reduced to the bare minimum and the main workspace with its cluster of workstations gets the natural light,” Abbott said.

She said experts who study business productivity have learned particular physical changes in a workplace increase productivity.  “You want people to meet and exchange ideas and this is what is going to help the business grow.”

by Bill Power;
copyright Halifax Chronicle Herald