Keeping It Quiet
Group Goetz Architects and Nestor Santa-Cruz demonstrate that an Internet-related workplace, this one in Baltimore, need not adopt the genre's flash and dash.
Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 3/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
CIRCLE.COM, AN INTERNET marketing/consulting/creative development firm recently acquired by a global advertising agency, already had work spaces in San Francisco and Baltimore. But needing a base for centralized operations, its principals decided to open a corporate headquarters office, again in the home of the Orioles and specifically in the city's rejuvenated Inner Harbor area. Engaged to create the new 7,000-sq.-ft. space were Group Goetz Architects and their project design director Nestor Santa-Cruz, returned, since the job's completion, to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Work time lasted about six months.
Looking at the layout of visuals, one might well be struck by what this installation isn't. Unlike most New Economy communications spaces, interiors at Circle.com clearly are not meant for occupants who ostensibly spend tons of their time in perpetual motion, assembling and regrouping for impromptu confabs. Nor does the handsome place sport exercise rooms, food dispensaries and other such perks meant to boost allegiance to the firm. That kind of scenario, one must deduce, would befit a concrete-wrapped loft filled with ever-changing work zones.
By contrast, the Circle.com spaces come across as calm, well-mannered, efficiently organized, and pleasing to the eye. Appropriately so, for this is corporate headquarters, where occupancy is confined to mature decision-makers, some of them newly, or yet to be, hired. Creative types, unarguably indispensable to the business, have their own suitably designed quarters elsewhere. Here, accommodations consist of one 300-sq.-ft. and two 250-sq.ft. offices for the three most senior executives, smaller (typically 150 sq. ft.) enclosures for eight officers and two executive assistants, plus 11 open work stations. Optimal space planning for these facilities, without wastage of the proverbial square inch, represented a particularly exigent task.
Still, remaining challenges were manifold. Perhaps most important among the client's aims was the creation of a distinct corporate image and identity, Santa-Cruz relates. To a large degree this was achieved by infusion of a "steel-gray-blue" color recently adopted to act as the firm's official logo carrier. Also on the conceptual wish list was reference to a "hip and fun" ambience, a point that Santa-Cruz, mindful of the potentially misleading connotation, neatly translates into "young and modern." It's a descriptive label that fits Circle.com's traditional-and-contemporary environment. The corporate hue, generously applied to carpeting and upholstery, is complemented by another shade of blue-one that appears vibrant and bright, as if taken from a clear cloudless sky-paired with lots of white, thus alluding to the outlying harbor's water and its frothy wave caps. The azure tint, moreover, is said to recall the tone of website pages; in combination with lacquered white, it strikes a nautical note. Collectively, the spokesman suggests, the interiors handsomely complement the views to spectacular sights outdoors.
Most prominent applications of the key colors, enlivened with reflective qualities sparked by aluminum components, appear at or near the custom reception desk. Boxed and upright panels of blue glass amicably coexist with two suspended Macassar ebony panels that make a strong graphic statement; a long low credenza of the same wood traces the reception/meeting room borderline. One of the hung boards as well as the firm's annular logo sign are appended via I-bars submerged into the ceiling; neither object touches the floor. Again the designer has a ready explanation: after all, he says, one speaks of floating in cyberspace and of surfing the Internet. Hence the touch of levitation. Very down-to-earth, on the other hand, are 21¼2-ft.-by-5-ft. greenish-cast limestone floor tiles, custom sized to be in sync with the base building module.
Members of the Group Goetz Architecture team were principal-in-charge Lewis Jay Goetz, senior architect Robert Holzbach, project architect Mark Sidorczuk, project designer Jennifer Carlyle, and project manager Linda Heath. Santa-Cruz, as noted, has gone back to SOM.