Stylistic Exploration: PanAtlantic’s Nature Themed Office
Expressing the mission of a company through its office design can easily devolve into overpowering corporate colors and haphazard logos. But at the PanAtlantic Exploration Company, high up in a Houston tower, Mayfield and Ragni Studio, aka MaRS, proves that subtlety is best. Even when a client is trying to make a big impact in the competitive oil-and-gas industry.
“We’re not that interested in hitting them over the head with a strong identity,” Erick Ragni says. “We do it in a way that’s more restrained.”
The public face of the two-level, 50,000-square-foot space is the double-height reception area, where maps and nature inspired the furnishings, finishes, and artwork. Take a wall installation by a young Texan sculptor—its hundreds of dots, starting down by the banquette and ascending 17 feet, mimic a geological map provided by PanAtlantic. Meanwhile, the reception desk’s facets resemble a geode, and the rug’s cut-pile pattern was based on a topographical map.
“Because the building has oddly shaped floor plates, we made the space experiential,” Kelie Mayfield adds. Floating above the reception area, white powder-coated fins undulate in the blinking light of LEDs installed in a ceiling cove. The idea was for visitors to feel as if they’re underwater, walking on the ocean floor.
The nature theme extends throughout. Travertine with prominent striations appears in the café. Paintings of abstracted geological maps hang in the boardroom, its table generous enough to accommodate the actual large maps commonly consulted. To tone things down, “grounding the space,” as Mayfield notes, she and Ragni chose plain white porcelain or muted gray basalt for floor tile.
Striking appearances aside, perhaps what’s most impressive about the project is its time frame and budget: designed and built in 12 weeks for $55 per square foot. One look at the total bill proves that not everything is bigger in Texas.