Contract - New Life:Group Goetz renovates offices for Foley & Lardner in Washington, D.C.

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New Life:Group Goetz renovates offices for Foley & Lardner in Washington, D.C.

23 May, 2011

-By Jean Nayar


What’s a law firm to do when its office no longer serves its needs, but its location is perfect? That was the question the Washington, D.C., office of Foley & Lardner faced a few years ago, just prior to the economic recession. And its response—after exploring the alternatives before its lease was about to expire—was to stay put and take on a total renovation, including a complete upgrade of its infrastructure and a reconfiguration of its structure. Working with Washington, D.C.-based Group Goetz Architects, the firm was able to transform its disjointed 1980s facility into a sleek yet understated eco-friendly office space that not only enhances its work process and preserves its spectacular views but also promises to substantially trim its energy costs over the long haul.

Located in a Post-Modern, mixed-use facility called the Washington Harbor Complex, which ideally is situated on the Potomac River in Georgetown, Foley & Lardner’s office space provides unparalleled views of the river, the Kennedy Center, and the Key and Memorial Bridges. Unfortunately, the previous office spaces were oddly configured and inefficient, occupying what appeared to be a series of interconnected buildings with a very unusual floor plan. Furthermore, there were issues with the windows and mechanical systems, and the firm needed more space for anticipated growth. So the architects completely re-envisioned the office spaces to bring them in line with the times—and the firm’s identity and current needs.

“A large part of Foley & Lardner’s practice is focused on intellectual property,” says principal architect on the project Lewis Goetz. “This is a forward-thinking practice area, so the spaces needed to reflect a contemporary sensibility without being loud or wild.” In order to create this serene contemporary backdrop, however, the architects needed to start from scratch in configuring the spaces. In addition to a fresher, brighter ambience, the firm’s principals wanted the space to support a new way of working. “The workplace has changed dramatically since we first moved into the building,” says Gail Taylor, national director of facilities management for Foley & Lardner. “Technology has changed, the secretary-to-attorney ratio has changed, and it was appropriate for us to step back and assess how we could create spaces that would support the way we do business today.”

The client’s primary objectives were to reconfigure work areas for better efficiencies among the different practice areas, provide spaces for more collaboration between the attorneys and practice groups, streamline operations and support spaces, improve wayfinding, and introduce more light. The biggest challenge, according to Goetz, was establishing a sense of organization in a facility that contained no standard grid. To solve this problem, the architects completely demolished the previous spaces to the concrete building shell and devised a scheme in which a prominent “boulevard” defines the primary circulation path through the workspaces, with secondary paths leading into surrounding work areas, allowing them to be organized in distinct “neighborhoods.” Punctuating key areas just off the boulevard are a series of unique communal spaces, including quiet rooms or lounge-like settings, which provide spots for casual interaction on each of the office floors in the six-story building. “Lawyers used to meet informally in libraries, but with advances in technology, that doesn’t happen anymore,” says Taylor. “Yet you want to support mentoring and collaboration, so you have to create ways for people to run into each other and interact.”

The office floors also include additional communal spaces—containing shared elements like copy machines, a central library zone, and café spaces—that allow for casual interaction and informal conferencing. Formal conference rooms, on the other hand, were coalesced in a conference center on the top floor, which represents a major departure in the organization of the space as a whole and allows for greater efficiency. This approach also enables the top floor to serve as a designated zone for meeting with clients, who are afforded the most dramatic views of the river. “Not only is it more efficient than distributed conferencing, but it also allows us to better support our clients and live up to our responsibility of confidentiality by hosting visitors in one place,” says Taylor. The reconfiguration of the offices also helped the architects gain an additional 60,000 sq. ft. to give the 100-year-old firm a total of 210,000 sq. ft. of work and conference space.

The spatial organization, as well as the materials choices, reinforced the client’s desire for more light. Although enclosed line the perimeter of the building, all are defined with walls of clear glass, allowing daylight to pour into the interior areas of each floor. White terrazzo floors reflect the light and brighten the spaces. In addition, efficient, low-profile light fixtures supplement the natural light—and their design and placement augment the organization of the spaces. “We used a single type of linear boxed fixture throughout to support the architecture and allow it to flow,” says lighting designer Frank Feist, of Washington, D.C.-based MCLA Lighting Design, which collaborated with the architects on the design. “We applied them in dashed lines overhead to reinforce the boulevard,” he says. “In other areas, they’re used as pendant fixtures, and in some locations, they’re wall-mounted.” By limiting the lighting palette to mostly one type of fixture and deploying it in different ways in distinct zones, the overall spaces appear clean, consistent and easy to read, and the lighting fixtures themselves serve as extra wayfinding devices. The dominant fixture is also super-efficient and particularly shallow to minimize its profile amid the low-ceilinged spaces while providing ample light in the offices areas.

Sustainability also was a concern, and the lighting played a key role in making the facilities eco-friendly, too, as do reduced water-consumption mechanisms, energy-recovery HVAC systems, sustainable materials, and green roofs. Taylor says the new offices, which were built-out in five phases, have enhanced the firm’s operations on several levels. “It’s so easy to find your way around the new offices, even for people who aren’t residents in this office,” she says. “And the lighting in particular is a major improvement—especially in Washington where ceilings aren’t high. The introduction of more natural light really enhances the aesthetics of the spaces, and the new efficient electric light has dramatically reduced our power usage. It also has inspired the owners of the building to use what we’ve done as a model for their own upgrades in the building. It’s one of our big success stories.”

who
Client: Foley & Lardner; Jay W. Freedman, office managing partner; Martin H. Never, director, administration and operations. Architect, interior designer: Group Goetz Architects PC Lewis J. Goetz, FAIA, FIIDA, principal-in-charge; Mansour Maboudian, Associate, AIA, LEED AP, principal, director of sustainable design; Amber Kwansiewski, LEED AP, project designer; Laura Madge, project designer. Contractor: Hitt Contracting. Lighting: MCLA Inc. Architectural Lighting Design. Engineering: KTA Group, Engineering (mechanical, electrical, plumbing); Tadjer Cohen Edelson Associates, Inc. (structural engineers). Acoustician: Polysonics Corp. Furniture dealer: MOI (Maryland Office Interiors), CHL Business Interiors, Inc. Photographer: Max Kun Zhang, Group Goetz Architects.

what
Wallcoverings: Knoll, Wolf Gordon, Maharam, Koroseal, Carnegie, Luna Textiles, Designtex, Wall Talkers. Paint: Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Scuffmaster. Laminate: Wilsonart, Formica, Abet Laminati, Melatone. Flooring: Trend, Boatman and Magnani, Johnsonite, Armstrong, Forbo. Carpet/carpet tile: Shaw, Constantine, Bentley Prince Street, Tandus. Ceiling: Armstrong, Decoustics. Casegoods: Nucraft, Hamilton Sorter. Lighting: a•light division of AmerillumBrands, Birchwood, Kurt Versen. Doors: Eliason, Eggers, Hadrian. Glass: McGrory, Bendheim, Pilkington, Interstyle. Window treatments: Nysen, Levolor. Workstations: Knoll, Nucraft. Lounge seating: HBF, Quince Milan, Brayton, OFS, Allermuir. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: Keilhauer, Kartell, Aceray. Other seating: Keilhauer, Montis. Upholstery: Designtex, Luna Textiles, Knoll Textiles. Conference table: Nucraft. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Aceray, Royal Botania.Other tables: HBF, Eero Saarinen. Files: Spacesaver, Knoll. Architectural woodworking: Washington Woodworking, Patella. Planters, accessories: Gratia, Lechuza, Urban Nature. Signage: D-Line. Plumbing fixtures: Kohler, American Standard, Sloan, Zurn.

where
Location: Washington, DC. Total floor area: 210,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 4. Average floor size: 35,000. Total staff size: 350. Cost/sq. ft.: $110.




New Life:Group Goetz renovates offices for Foley & Lardner in Washington, D.C.

23 May, 2011


Group Goetz, Foley & Lardner office renovation, Washington, D.C.

What’s a law firm to do when its office no longer serves its needs, but its location is perfect? That was the question the Washington, D.C., office of Foley & Lardner faced a few years ago, just prior to the economic recession. And its response—after exploring the alternatives before its lease was about to expire—was to stay put and take on a total renovation, including a complete upgrade of its infrastructure and a reconfiguration of its structure. Working with Washington, D.C.-based Group Goetz Architects, the firm was able to transform its disjointed 1980s facility into a sleek yet understated eco-friendly office space that not only enhances its work process and preserves its spectacular views but also promises to substantially trim its energy costs over the long haul.

Located in a Post-Modern, mixed-use facility called the Washington Harbor Complex, which ideally is situated on the Potomac River in Georgetown, Foley & Lardner’s office space provides unparalleled views of the river, the Kennedy Center, and the Key and Memorial Bridges. Unfortunately, the previous office spaces were oddly configured and inefficient, occupying what appeared to be a series of interconnected buildings with a very unusual floor plan. Furthermore, there were issues with the windows and mechanical systems, and the firm needed more space for anticipated growth. So the architects completely re-envisioned the office spaces to bring them in line with the times—and the firm’s identity and current needs.

“A large part of Foley & Lardner’s practice is focused on intellectual property,” says principal architect on the project Lewis Goetz. “This is a forward-thinking practice area, so the spaces needed to reflect a contemporary sensibility without being loud or wild.” In order to create this serene contemporary backdrop, however, the architects needed to start from scratch in configuring the spaces. In addition to a fresher, brighter ambience, the firm’s principals wanted the space to support a new way of working. “The workplace has changed dramatically since we first moved into the building,” says Gail Taylor, national director of facilities management for Foley & Lardner. “Technology has changed, the secretary-to-attorney ratio has changed, and it was appropriate for us to step back and assess how we could create spaces that would support the way we do business today.”

The client’s primary objectives were to reconfigure work areas for better efficiencies among the different practice areas, provide spaces for more collaboration between the attorneys and practice groups, streamline operations and support spaces, improve wayfinding, and introduce more light. The biggest challenge, according to Goetz, was establishing a sense of organization in a facility that contained no standard grid. To solve this problem, the architects completely demolished the previous spaces to the concrete building shell and devised a scheme in which a prominent “boulevard” defines the primary circulation path through the workspaces, with secondary paths leading into surrounding work areas, allowing them to be organized in distinct “neighborhoods.” Punctuating key areas just off the boulevard are a series of unique communal spaces, including quiet rooms or lounge-like settings, which provide spots for casual interaction on each of the office floors in the six-story building. “Lawyers used to meet informally in libraries, but with advances in technology, that doesn’t happen anymore,” says Taylor. “Yet you want to support mentoring and collaboration, so you have to create ways for people to run into each other and interact.”

The office floors also include additional communal spaces—containing shared elements like copy machines, a central library zone, and café spaces—that allow for casual interaction and informal conferencing. Formal conference rooms, on the other hand, were coalesced in a conference center on the top floor, which represents a major departure in the organization of the space as a whole and allows for greater efficiency. This approach also enables the top floor to serve as a designated zone for meeting with clients, who are afforded the most dramatic views of the river. “Not only is it more efficient than distributed conferencing, but it also allows us to better support our clients and live up to our responsibility of confidentiality by hosting visitors in one place,” says Taylor. The reconfiguration of the offices also helped the architects gain an additional 60,000 sq. ft. to give the 100-year-old firm a total of 210,000 sq. ft. of work and conference space.

The spatial organization, as well as the materials choices, reinforced the client’s desire for more light. Although enclosed line the perimeter of the building, all are defined with walls of clear glass, allowing daylight to pour into the interior areas of each floor. White terrazzo floors reflect the light and brighten the spaces. In addition, efficient, low-profile light fixtures supplement the natural light—and their design and placement augment the organization of the spaces. “We used a single type of linear boxed fixture throughout to support the architecture and allow it to flow,” says lighting designer Frank Feist, of Washington, D.C.-based MCLA Lighting Design, which collaborated with the architects on the design. “We applied them in dashed lines overhead to reinforce the boulevard,” he says. “In other areas, they’re used as pendant fixtures, and in some locations, they’re wall-mounted.” By limiting the lighting palette to mostly one type of fixture and deploying it in different ways in distinct zones, the overall spaces appear clean, consistent and easy to read, and the lighting fixtures themselves serve as extra wayfinding devices. The dominant fixture is also super-efficient and particularly shallow to minimize its profile amid the low-ceilinged spaces while providing ample light in the offices areas.

Sustainability also was a concern, and the lighting played a key role in making the facilities eco-friendly, too, as do reduced water-consumption mechanisms, energy-recovery HVAC systems, sustainable materials, and green roofs. Taylor says the new offices, which were built-out in five phases, have enhanced the firm’s operations on several levels. “It’s so easy to find your way around the new offices, even for people who aren’t residents in this office,” she says. “And the lighting in particular is a major improvement—especially in Washington where ceilings aren’t high. The introduction of more natural light really enhances the aesthetics of the spaces, and the new efficient electric light has dramatically reduced our power usage. It also has inspired the owners of the building to use what we’ve done as a model for their own upgrades in the building. It’s one of our big success stories.”

who
Client: Foley & Lardner; Jay W. Freedman, office managing partner; Martin H. Never, director, administration and operations. Architect, interior designer: Group Goetz Architects PC Lewis J. Goetz, FAIA, FIIDA, principal-in-charge; Mansour Maboudian, Associate, AIA, LEED AP, principal, director of sustainable design; Amber Kwansiewski, LEED AP, project designer; Laura Madge, project designer. Contractor: Hitt Contracting. Lighting: MCLA Inc. Architectural Lighting Design. Engineering: KTA Group, Engineering (mechanical, electrical, plumbing); Tadjer Cohen Edelson Associates, Inc. (structural engineers). Acoustician: Polysonics Corp. Furniture dealer: MOI (Maryland Office Interiors), CHL Business Interiors, Inc. Photographer: Max Kun Zhang, Group Goetz Architects.

what
Wallcoverings: Knoll, Wolf Gordon, Maharam, Koroseal, Carnegie, Luna Textiles, Designtex, Wall Talkers. Paint: Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Scuffmaster. Laminate: Wilsonart, Formica, Abet Laminati, Melatone. Flooring: Trend, Boatman and Magnani, Johnsonite, Armstrong, Forbo. Carpet/carpet tile: Shaw, Constantine, Bentley Prince Street, Tandus. Ceiling: Armstrong, Decoustics. Casegoods: Nucraft, Hamilton Sorter. Lighting: a•light division of AmerillumBrands, Birchwood, Kurt Versen. Doors: Eliason, Eggers, Hadrian. Glass: McGrory, Bendheim, Pilkington, Interstyle. Window treatments: Nysen, Levolor. Workstations: Knoll, Nucraft. Lounge seating: HBF, Quince Milan, Brayton, OFS, Allermuir. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: Keilhauer, Kartell, Aceray. Other seating: Keilhauer, Montis. Upholstery: Designtex, Luna Textiles, Knoll Textiles. Conference table: Nucraft. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Aceray, Royal Botania.Other tables: HBF, Eero Saarinen. Files: Spacesaver, Knoll. Architectural woodworking: Washington Woodworking, Patella. Planters, accessories: Gratia, Lechuza, Urban Nature. Signage: D-Line. Plumbing fixtures: Kohler, American Standard, Sloan, Zurn.

where
Location: Washington, DC. Total floor area: 210,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 4. Average floor size: 35,000. Total staff size: 350. Cost/sq. ft.: $110.

 


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