If you subscribe to our email newsletter, you may recall our inaugural issue that discussed the dynamic created by having three distinctly different generations in the workplace. In our feature article, we described how a flexible and collaborative design can accommodate the various needs and activities each generation brings to the workplace. BPA had an opportunity to implement these strategies recently when Mercedes-Benz US International (MBUSI) approached us about helping them do just that. The renovation, which encompassed more than 85,000 SF of workspace for multiple departments, allowed us the opportunity to utilize a number of recent innovations in both the design process and the final outcome.
The need for collaborative and flexible workspaces is not unique to MBUSI, but is rather a movement sweeping through progressive workplaces all over the country. The widespread nature of this trend has led to a fleet of new products and technologies designed specifically to address this need. We worked with some world-class suppliers to leverage the best of these products to create a truly innovative space for MBUSI.
Many of these products focus on providing new levels of collaboration among teams. We used a number of Steelecase systems and product lines to create meeting spaces at a variety of scales and uses. The Steelcase Post & Beam system helped give definition to informal seating groups that occur in a number of configurations throughout the large open spaces of MBUSI’s offices. Steelcase’s VIA system takes that concept a step further in a number of locations by creating glass-walled conference rooms that provide the audible privacy that is sometimes necessary while maintaining the visual connection to the rest of the team members. These conference rooms are packed to the brim with the latest in communication and productivity software. Each room comes equipped with fully-integrated video conferencing equipment and specially designed bands of LED lights that provide glare-free illumination. To top it all off, every surface of the conference room enclosure - even the glass - is writeable so that every idea can be captured. Software is integrated into every room so that scheduling and booking space is fast and simple. These technologies combine to create environments that foster unprecedented levels of teamwork and creativity.
Another hallmark of MBUSI’s new workspace is a flexibility to accommodate a variety of present and future uses. That desire for flexibility drove the development of the myriad of seating and meeting options. Providing a menu of workspace options gives team members the ability to choose where they work based on team size, activity type, or personal (or generational) preference. Power is integrated into much of the furniture to further facilitate the ability to work from anywhere. Even dining and break rooms have been outfitted to become “work cafes”. Some of the conference rooms were furnished to allow stand-up meetings around a workspace. But the flexibility of the space is not limited to the range here-and-now uses, but also has the ability to reconfigure to meets needs that MBUSI and the design team don’t even see coming yet. Not only is the furniture moveable, but even the VIA and Post & Beam systems are demountable so that the entire space can adapt with the growing and changing needs of MBUSI. That kind of flexibility extends from floor to ceiling. The Shaw Contract carpet tiles - whose colors, shape, and textures help define space for gathering and circulation - can easily be picked up and moved due to the lock-dot application method. An Armstrong cloud system was used to create a planar organizational element through the space overhead without the permanence of an architectural soffit. Every consideration was given to accommodating the needs of MBUSI’s team - both now and in years to come. We want to thank the team of suppliers, product representatives, and contractors that contributed to the success of this project. The result is a truly innovative and dynamic workspace.
RENDERING VS. REALITY
The involvement of innovation in this project was not limited to the products used to shape the final outcome. It also included the process by which those concepts and products were brought to bear. A project of this size and scope is inevitably going to engage a variety of needs and preferences across the many departments represented. As a design team, we found it valuable to realistically represent the proposed outcome of each space so that each user group could provide real-time feedback during the design phase. To do this, we relied on a core functionality of the design tools we use on projects of all sizes. We were able to build a digital 3D model of each space that served as a basis for a series of photo-realistic renderings that provided a hyper-accurate visualization of the final product in the middle of the design process. This effort was bolstered by working with suppliers that not only provide accurate models of their furniture and systems, but also life-like representations of the material choices for each piece. Take a look at the images below for a side-by-side comparison of the rendering vs. reality. Can you tell which one is which?
Our use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) also enabled us to make use of cutting-edge Virtual Reality technologies to provide our client with not only what it looks like to see the space, but also what it is like to experience it. The growing use of VR in our industry and our practice is a post unto itself, so be sure to keep visiting our blog and social media accounts. You don’t want to miss it!
Also be sure to check out the MBUSI Workplace Transformation project page by clicking here for additional images and information.
The Vance plant produces some of the finest vehicles on the market, including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the GLS SUV, the GLE SUV, and the GLE Coupe SUV. Visit the website below for information on MBUSI, its Plant Tours, Visitors Center and the Gift Shop.