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Insights — Design Stories

Corgan Houston Office - Designed for Belonging

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Vice President, Studio Leader — Houston Interiors

Corgan’s Houston office is growing—and expanding with a new office space in a familiar neighborhood. The design team, led by David Euchser, focused on a collaborative process to design a space that enhances connection and culture.

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A Place to Call Home

Corgan’s Houston office is growing and when looking for new office space, we realized that the Greenway neighborhood suits the team perfectly - it sits between Houston’s two major real estate hubs, the central business district downtown and the Galleria area. Situated inside loop 610, the office - 9 Greenway Plaza - has easy access to both airports and the “Energy Corridor” on Houston’s west side. The building is LEED Silver-certified with a streamlined, modern aesthetic conveniently located on a 10-building campus that features shopping, a food court, and transportation center. From the northern end of the building, the studio has a panoramic view of Houston from east to west. Employees can see everywhere they do work, including downtown, the University of Houston, and the Texas Medical Center.

Working Vision

In order to ensure that the new office space works well for the whole team, we were intentional about following the same process we do with our clients, starting with visioning and programming sessions with team leaders. We looked at opportunities and challenges, considering the present team and our work, as well as what Corgan will look like in 10 years. The firm’s Belong initiative — and its active innovation and welcoming community — was a main source of inspiration. It was important to create a sense of belonging for employees and visitors in our new home. We seized the opportunity to celebrate the multi-cultural community of Houston which is represented by the people in Corgan's Houston office. The relocation to a new space gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to innovation and design excellence, both in the space types as well as in some key design features.

The visioning sessions ended with four key pillars: belonging, innovation, community, and design excellence.

David Euscher
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The entrance to the office features two custom elements: Corgan’s agility sequence and a monumental wooden bench.

Our process included everyone on the Houston team in a “Trash to Treasure” matrix activity, where the team identified features from the previous office that were important to design into the new space, elements we wanted to be avoid, as well as wishes and concerns for the new space. The wishes section overflowed with ideas, and we took to heart what people wanted: more spaces for collaboration on various scales, dedicated storage for materials, phone rooms for private calls, and an impressive, photography-friendly space to work and host clients for meetings and events. One item that employees treasured from the previous office was a space for fun. The design of the community space includes a built-in table to encourage the habit of people across all teams to relax and enjoy working jigsaw puzzles together. The aesthetic goal for the new space was to amplify the character of Houston that may not as well known outside of the city, like its multicultural foodie scene, robust fine arts community, history of manufacturing, and contemporary maker culture.

Community

The three overarching concepts—community, innovation, and belonging—that were identified during the visioning sessions guided the development of the office zoning. Employees and visitors enter the office via the community area, which contains the reception desk, kitchen, and large, glassed-in meeting room for forums and other office-wide presentations. The space is open and flexible, with areas to gather in small or large groups.

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The custom wooden bench was the result of a collaboration among the Houston interiors team, Corgan’s model shop, and computational design specialists.

The entrance contains a Corgan-branded “agility wall” comprising approximately 2,000 wooden pegs that move freely within a static grid frame that enables the feature to be constantly manipulated, creating variations in form, light and shadow across the surface. The agility sequence (a mainstay of Corgan’s brand) is also represented on the back wall of the kitchen, imparting color and texture into the space. Soothing deep blues, accents of “Corgan yellow,” and clean white marble and tile adds light and interest in the community space.

A sculptural wooden bench that flows from the lobby toward the conference rooms is the centerpiece of the communal area. Functionally, it provides a space to gather and forms a soft boundary transition between the gathering spaces and working spaces. Inspired by the flowing waterways and bayous central to Houston’s landscape and commercial history, the Gallery bench undulates in three dimensions, flowing from the community spaces through the “innovation zone” of meeting spaces, and terminating in a space for personal connection and conversation. The Houston Interiors design team collaborated with Corgan’s model shop and computational design specialists across the firm to study the feature in digital and physical forms, bringing the concept to reality. The result is a warm, supple statement piece that anchors the entry and provides a contrast to the crisp, modern lines of the context.

Innovation

Along the gallery bench, the “innovation zone” includes collaborative meeting rooms, a new material resource library, and a conversation room designed specifically to exclude AV technology and encourage  face-to-face interactions. The glass conversation room can visually be enclosed by a translucent yellow curtain to facilitate privacy or transparency, depending on the user’s needs. Soft lounge seating brings occupants into a relaxed posture, and decorative lighting creates a warm ambience in contrast to the workspaces in the studio. The feature wall of the room provides acoustical tempering and is inscribed with a pattern of glyphs as a symbol of language—a nod to the many cultures of the Houston office, as well as the conversations that take place there.

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The glass walls of the meeting room let natural light in, while the long bench provides an area for people to stop and chat.

The material library is tucked away behind the meeting rooms, but its entry is always open, with shelves to display a rotating selection of materials. This choice to leave the library open makes our work visible, inviting guests to engage and participate in the creative process with our design teams. The layout allowed us to keep the fronts of the meeting rooms glass, so both the hallway and the meeting rooms can enjoy the view and light from the large, west-facing windows. The library is rendered almost entirely in white, allowing the colors and textures of the materials to be the focus. With a brand new office, our library is refreshed and reimagined as a learning tool for our designers and clients. The curated selection of materials in the library are only healthy, sustainable material samples - a tangible reflection of our commitment to sustainable design and human health.

Belonging

Passing by the library, you arrive at the space for belonging - the working studio. We intentionally designed this space to allow the whole office to be together, rather than separating sectors, teams, or groups of work stations with conference rooms. Private offices, meeting rooms, phone booths, and an open charette area with special acoustical treatment line the interior walls, providing a backdrop that does not interrupt the connectivity of the work area. The charette room echoes the deep blue and light wood accents from the office entry and kitchen, recalling the first and last experiences of the space that are designed for gathering and belonging. A secondary beverage station and a private wellness room is provided for convenient employee access.

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The material palette for the office is sophisticated but not stuffy, with Corgan yellow and a deep gulf coast blue as the key colors. The black offset grid of light fixtures in the studio space contrasts with the light-colored acoustical treatment and exposed structure above and creates a layered and porous volume overhead. The warm neutral palette provides a clean backdrop for work in progress to be displayed, as well as images of completed Corgan projects artfully composed by our in-house photographers. Wood tones warm and round out the palette. Fine wood veneers on furniture, solid oak blocks in the agility wall complement the exposed layers of the milled birch plywood of the gallery bench.

Design Excellence

The true test of design excellence is how people experience and use the space: a workplace’s culture is directly tied to the programmatic and aesthetic choices made early in the discovery and design phase. Doing for ourselves what we do for our clients, we deployed our framework for visioning, programming and design excellence, and succeeded in achieving our desired outcome. The new Corgan Houston office embodies our drive toward design excellence and innovation. It is a place for belonging that connects employees and visitors to the culture of the Corgan community.

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