The New Office Space
I found this article on office planning very interesting: “Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace.”
During the making of the show, we visited many architecture offices. I was not surprised to see that most were open plan arrangement- much like what is explained in the article. The proponents of this type of arrangement talk about how it encourages collaboration. Having worked in this type of set up before on several occasions, it is true enough. A certain level of osmosis permeates the environment and everyone seems better informed about a project. Then again, for many- me included- this type of open plan inhibits creativity.
As an architect who spends most of my time designing, I need to be able to retreat into a place where I can explore ideas freely without watchful eyes on every sketch or plan study. It’s not that I have to outside the office in my home office but there is something to be said for having partitions to create some visual privacy. Not to mention, it’s nice to have some walls to pin up sketches, drawings, photos etc. I suppose that everyone is different and has an optimal work space scenario. And perhaps that’s the point. I wonder if new office space planning might take this into more consideration. When we created the parameters for the tv show, we decided that we would focus on public spaces- and leaves homes to HGTV and others. But I wonder if it makes sense to include office spaces as a future topic? Certainly the work areas of a corporate office are not public. Nevertheless, it seems that it might be worth exploring.
As a final note, one might suspect that in all of our office visits that the principals would have their own private offices while the rest of the staff would be in an open plan arrangement. Interestingly, we did not find that to be the case. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, for example sit in the middle of their open office at work stations that looks exactly the same as an intern’s desk. The same was true for Mack Scogin and Merril Elam in their Atlanta studio. In those instances, I could not imagine a better place to be working as a young architect. What better place to learn than to see how a successful architect like a Mack Scogin conducts his business day-to-day? Yes, I think I could live with this open plan arrangement!