The sign says it all: “In case you had a late night, you’re in the Las Vegas office.” By simply setting foot into the lobby of R&R Partners – and reading the creative greeting – you’ll realize why the marketing and communications firm has a distinctive 25-year history in Southern Nevada. The organization, with clients highlighted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, knows a thing or two about developing a lasting impression. Judging by the company’s new office building, which opened in May 2002 on West Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas, it’s easy to see why the folks at R&R could be considered trendsetters when it comes to the interior design of their workspace. Needless to say, the group’s 68,000-square foot structure – a 44,000-square-foot office for R&R with an additional 24,000 square feet available for lease – is attractive to the eye. More importantly, however, is the fact this environment depicts the business mentality and philosophies shared by the firm.
“What I think is really important is having a space that communicates who you are to the customer,” said Craig Galati, one of the principals with Lucchesi Galati Architects, who developed the design of the R&R building. “There are two things that really go into it. There is the art involved in the architecture and interior design, but the most important thing is understanding the social impact of what you do and how the space affects the people who do business there.”
Several local architects agree that having a blank blueprint, unlimited boundaries and unique ideas has never been more exciting. Businesses are looking for a trademark look – that special something that sells their product to customers the second they walk through the door – and the finished product is increasingly becoming very hip and incorporating fun-loving designs.
Finding and constructing the perfect interior doesn’t happen overnight. For instance, when Lucchesi Galati Architects accepted the interior design commission from R&R, the process took over 16 months. During that time span, the artistic aspect wasn’t the main concern. “We camped out at their old offices for a day and a half observing how they worked,” Galati said. “We took what appeared to be important to them and came up with a rough concept to take their brand into physical space.” Mary Ann Mele, R&R’s president and chief strategy officer, said, “Our old building wasn’t conducive to interaction between all of our departments. Plus, we had people sitting in hallways, closets, even entryways, to accommodate our rapid growth.”
With R&R, the survey process concluded the firm was highly team-oriented and, naturally, progressive. “The idea with R&R was to communicate its brand,” Galati said. “It is a very team-oriented company and its people are very creative, so the space had to demonstrate that. You know you want to hire them as your (public relations) firm when you walk in the front door.” From a large firm like R&R Advertising to that small business in its first-ever office, one thing is certain: making a lasting impression starts the moment the customer walks through the door.
“The first concern is how the space is going to be used,” said Derrell Parker, a partner with Parker Scaggiari. “A vast majority of new design jobs in commercial settings are with tenants moving into previously-used space. But, whether it’s new or used space, the same principles apply with your design.”
Bill Snyder, a principal with Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects in Las Vegas, said designing an interior for an office space is similar to designing a home. “First of all, we need to find out what the space’s function will be, because, as the old adage goes, ‘Form follows function.’ Rather than building a series of boxes and making people fit into them, we assess how the client will use the space. But, there’s also the element of personal preferences. For example, I love to watch the sun set and rise, so it was important to me to design my home with views oriented toward the sun. For someone else, that might not be a consideration. Similarly, if the people using an office feel more comfortable with tranquil elements such as running water, natural light or plants, then we make sure to incorporate them into our design.”
Interior design is following the workplace trend of placing importance on teamwork and cooperation. Jonelle Vance, manager of the interior design studio at JMA Architect Studios, said her group has noticed the trend toward more open, flexible work areas. Furniture that can be easily moved and reconfigured is also in demand, so employees can shift their workstations to form common areas with the other members of their team.
“Having a large corner office was a big deal 25 years ago,” Galati explained. “It was a status thing. But now professionals across the board are breaking down those barriers.” Another reason for the elimination of the traditional office in favor of an open work area is cost. “I am seeing people want more open space and less chopped-up offices,” Galati said. “It seems like landlords are appreciative of that because it makes the space more lease-able the next time around.”
Angela Bigotti, design principal with Sheehan, Van Woert, Bigotti Architects in Reno, said executives no longer want their offices to be separated from work areas used by the rest of the staff. One way her firm has accommodated the demand for more openness is by using floor-to-ceiling glass walls, offset by wood accents and warm colors.
“Hoteling” of office space is another popular trend, said Vance, as more employees work from home or spend a portion of their time in the field. These people can share a work area in the office instead of each person having a separate area that remains empty most of the time.
The office settings of today are different from those your elders became familiar with decades ago. Materials such as concrete, flagstone and metals, which were once used only for exteriors, are making their way indoors, and many buildings, including the R&R headquarters, have brought the feeling of the outdoors inside. Several of the newer interior designs are based on sustained or recycled materials, the so-called environmental green look. The sustained material has a long life span and doesn’t need to be replaced, while several builders are encouraging the use of recycled materials like carpet fibers.
Materials aren’t the only things that are being recycled, Parker added. As Southern Nevada’s business community continues its growth, tenants are moving into relatively new, but already used, buildings. “Most contracts we were getting 10 years ago involved new buildings and first-generation space, but today we are getting more second, third and even fourth generation space,” Parker said. Sheehan, Van Woert, Bigotti has been involved in “contemporizing” historic buildings in downtown Reno, including the redesign and conversion of the old Riverside Hotel into a building containing artists’ lofts and gallery space.
Snyder noted that security concerns since Sept. 11, 2001 are causing architects and designers to change the way they lay out buildings. “A public building, such as a school or government office, may now want to have controlled points of entry,” he explained. “Facilities such as airports and courthouses now have to be designed to channel the flow of people into security checkpoints.”
Vance pointed out that people are spending more time than ever before in the workplace, so making them feel comfortable there is vital to their happiness. For this reason, designers try to incorporate elements that reduce stress, including the use of natural light where possible instead of harsh fluorescent fixtures. As Snyder noted, “One third of your life is spent working. If you work in an environment you enjoy, you’ll be more productive and less stressed.”