CONSTRUCTION TO OCCUPANCY: APRIL – JUNE 2017
After a select list of Architects were interviewed, our Norwalk team was selected in October of 2016 by Hearst, one of the nation’s largest diversified media, information and services companies to design their new 30,000 square foot space designated for their Hearst Connecticut Media Group. The project entailed an entire floor of 301 Merritt 7 which was appointed to us as an empty slate. The goal was to relocate 200 plus employees from 5 locations into one space within a short time frame which consisted of 3 months from construction to occupancy. Corporate standards needed to be folded into the design while being mindful to incorporate the local office’s desire to include a New England look. The project goals for this new office were to create minimal offices along the exterior glass walls to maximize the natural sunlight and to create an open, collaborative, inviting and unique experience from the minute you step out of their elevator.
Large, open collaborative spaces were created on the north and the south ends of the core to provide equal opportunity for eating areas and large meeting spaces. The pantry, storage and copy areas were also part of these main cores but out of site from the working space. Smaller informal touchdown spaces were intentionally placed throughout the floor plan to allow for impromptu meetings. One of the greatest challenges was to create interest while leaving as much existing ceiling and lighting as possible. This was achieved by removing a portion of the ceiling around all concrete columns and painting the structure above in black to create a void capital while providing a floating ceiling look. The ceiling was removed completely above the north and south collaborative spaces to break up long spans of ceiling running east to west and at the same time adding volume and interest.
With a blank, square floor space, we incorporated all the design details and goals desired by both corporate and local end-users to consolidate multiple newspapers into one branded workplace. Our solution to a challenging space where the elevator, stair and shaft core were off center, was to create a non-orthogonal design to create interest. We maximized the space with 196 workstations by placing the spine of the workstations perpendicular to the exterior walls which also allowed for us to capitalize on the natural light. Our choice of two serpentine glass side walls to encapsulate the conference room directly off the elevator vestibule achieved maximum visibility through to the collaborative area and exterior upon arrival. TV monitors were strategically placed on existing columns that we stripped from sheetrock to expose the concrete for an industrial look.
The goal to incorporate all Connecticut brands while respecting the Hearst brand globally was accomplished with several unique design elements. We installed reclaimed brick on the elevator wall to exude a traditional New England look, painted the elevator doors and frames in black metallic bristle paint for contrast and stenciled all newspaper logos in white to represent the brands and assure guests that they have arrived at Hearst Connecticut.
The conference room axis was turned on a slight angle to the elevator, and serpentine, floor-to-ceiling, glass walls were added to create interest and reveal the branding. At one end, we placed a large monitor along with a vintage stained-glass window, which we back lit to reinforce and highlight the original Hearst logo. Serpentine lighting was added to the ceiling to accentuate and enhance the unique shape of this room.
The same floor-to-ceiling serpentine glass was added to all conference, huddle and phone rooms to showcase the color-coded walls and vinyl applied newspaper logo graphics that we added to help designate the space. As the design developed, the surrounding floor was noted as the “River Walk,” as the polished concrete floor we chose also took on a wayfinding function. To improve the design flow even more, we then mounted LED lights in a serpentine formation above to compliment this unusual walkway.