CBRE, Gensler

2016-2018

77,605 SQFT Office

Houston, TX

First and foremost, the workplace design is a functional space. It encourages mobility and productivity through a technology-enabled, free-address and paperless office—key pillars of the Workplace360 initiative. Rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all solution, the design is flexible and adapts to support the work needs of the task at hand. Employees can choose to work at about 40 different and unique types of work settings. The majority of work settings focus on socialization and collaboration activities, reflecting a continued trend in workplace to move to alternative workstyles.

The use of virtual reality immersion helped to drive major design decisions. One of the most impactful parts of the space is the interconnecting stair, which is seen as both a unifying element across multiple floors and a social hub for collaboration. The design team mocked up multiple options and used VR to guide leadership to make a decision with confidence by experiencing the design through this technology. VR also played an important part on the onboarding process, guiding the client through the rest of the space virtually.

The central stair is part of a larger multi-function lounge area that creates a social hub and serves as the heart of the space. This high-impact area also turns what was once a series of wide columns into an architectural statement piece that acts as both a wayfinding device and natural space separator.

Having a sense of place that reflects the local culture was important to CBRE. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and the design and branding reflect this. Houston’s distinct neighborhoods inspired the space plan, creating workstation neighborhoods organized around CBRE’s different business lines. Custom-crafted pieces by local artisans—including illustrations by Chris Rogge, woodwork by Greenwood Bay, and metalwork by Sarabi metals—use different materiality and colors to create Houston neighborhood specific design statements.

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Rendering V.S. Reality

Design is a fast-paced environment where adaptability is key. Throughout the process, we create images and stories to help ourselves and the client see and understand the vision we have in our heads. The rendering is more like a collage or dream of the potential we see for a project and can be made as realistic or abstract as the client and team prefer. There are many things that can alter the final look of the project from the conceptual or developed renderings. To name just a few: the availability of physical materials during construction, last-minute design changes, time of day, realistic expectation of materials and lighting, prop entourage v.s. real entourage, reflections on surfaces and materials, added graphics, signage or other fine details, etc…

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