Terminology is catching up with best practices. Although integrated project delivery is now a stylish description for an ideal sustainable design process, many architects have been using IPD long before the name came into vogue. As Colin Brice, principal of New York–based architecture studio Mapos puts it, “It’s just how we work with our clients to deliver a project where we’re all authors.”
Photo © David Pinter
Yet IPD came to the fore of minds when the online helpdesk company Liveperson tapped Mapos to design its new headquarters in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. In fact, this renovation of an existing office space for 80 management-level employees compelled Mapos to try a new format for maximizing authorship. Because design meetings normally comprised 12 client representatives, “gaming made perfect sense,” Brice says. “It includes everyone in a large group—getting people out of their seats and interacting—and generates input quickly.” The process indeed yielded a green interior.
It comprised five sessions that established principles for communal space, workstations, and meeting rooms, and then delved into specifics. At each game, Mapos introduced a friendly competition with consensus at the finish line.
For example, Liveperson participated in the “Liveperson Shuffle” on the day devoted to interior layout. Players were given differently sized cards colored blue (signifying workstations), yellow (for meeting rooms), green (kitchen and storage), and red (entry and other public space), as well as 23 orange cards. They spread the components over a large game board, with the orange “wild cards” representing small unprogrammed allotments that the Liveperson staff could merge or sprinkle as they wanted. Mapos summarized the scenarios that had been conceived over the course of the hour, and two weeks later it presented a plan of action.
The final layout stresses adaptability. The 35-seat conference room can divide into two 12-seat meeting rooms, or it can spill into the adjacent Town Square via folding walls to create a 1,500-square-foot event space. On an individual scale, L-shaped desks can be used as two rectangular desks in the event a new employee or guest increase the original head count, and power and data plug in where needed.
The flexible spaces maximize daylight, yet like other aspects of the Liveperson project, limiting permanent partitions between meeting rooms or workstations was driven first by cost. “Fewer conference rooms have to be built, and the L-shaped desk allows them to grow without buying more furniture and moving and reconfiguring,” Brice says.
To be sure, a modest budget hung above the IPD games; Liveperson had less than $100 per square foot to spend. To the benefit of frugality, when the previous tenant vacated the 15,000-square-foot office in early 2010, “It was like they just walked out and left everything that couldn’t be easily carried,” Brice recalls. Furniture was largely removed, but files, built-in workspaces, storage, partitions, lighting, and carpet remained. So throughout the design process client and architect were thinking about reusing the inherited materials in surprising ways.
“There was a lot of potential in repositioning, mixing, and deconstructing and reusing pieces in ways that gave new life to the old elements.” An interactive poster rack—made from existing flat files turned sideways—was nixed for requiring too much real estate, Brice says, while clustering of old pendant lights moved ahead. So did the main conference room’s shiplap siding, which was fabricated from disassembled millwork cut into half-foot strips.
Whatever new materials were chosen consciously. An expansive counter separating the Town Square from the office kitchen is made of recycled pine; luminaires include LEDs or fluorescent lamps; finishes are low in VOCs. Whether Mapos made a decision, or made it the subject of a game, it blogged everything from mood boards to sketches and meeting minutes for open comment. Liveperson clearly liked the interaction. As its New York employee count tops 100, it is talking with Mapos about taking another floor in the building.