February 1, 2012

Moving With the Times: SmithGroupJJR’s New DC Office

The cobbler’s kids are barefoot no more. But they have a smaller shoe size. The Washington office of SmithGroupJJR, as it recently rebranded itself, has moved from a nondescript location to one that’s 30 percent smaller but much more stylish and sustainable: 35,000 square feet, certified LEED-CI Platinum, on two levels of a LEED Gold building.

“This is what we tell clients to do all the time,” principal Rob Moylan says. “Now we’re able to show them a real example of what we mean by the Office of the Future.”

Out: “me” space, radically reduced as private offices become extinct everywhere but HR. In: “we” space, with flexible workstations temporarily grouped by project. That goes for all the designers, whether you’re a vice president who’s been there forever or an intern fresh out of school. Project materials are stored in cabinets in the middle of the circulation boulevard that runs through the studio. Perimeter circulation, Moylan adds, ensures that “nobody owns the window.”

The library’s square footage was chopped in half, since most product literature is available online. Whereas the old office had 14 conference rooms, the new one has three. (An electronic scheduling system saves time scouting for a free room when you need to convene a meeting.) Casual gatherings occur in team spaces of various sizes, from open tack-wall spots to glass-enclosed huddle rooms. Any place you can think of is wired to the gills, including a lounge that morphs into a café. And the lounge-café’s canopy, a cloud sculpture assembled from wool modules by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, is one of many elements designed to be movable—to a future Office of the Future. Two years from now, Moylan and his colleagues will relocate again, to a new building of their own design.

Recent Projects