As employees begin to migrate back to offices part time, the focus on employee comfort and occupant health remains paramount. Ensuring productivity and maintaining social responsibility necessitates not only intuitive space types but sustainability. Hilb Group, an insurance broker with more than 30 specialties across employee benefits, commercial and personal needs, faced this design environment challenge when centralizing 4 RI-based offices into 1 regional location for 130 employees. Entrepreneurial in approach but traditional in fostering close relationships, Hilb’s unique business model acquires top local brokers to deliver customized services supported by the diverse resources of a large broker.
The design goal for this 25,000 SF office was to mirror Hilb’s progressive, high-performance culture by enforcing corporate brand identity while creating a driving sense of purposefulness that empowers employees and clients into action. To accomplish this, the design build firm Dacon Corporation in Natick, MA integrated inspiration via creative trends spanning statement pieces which elevate sophistication, contemporary lifestyles, materials that minimize environmental impact and cool tones. Consisting of 2 floors, the layout includes an open office work environment, entrance lobby, conference space, training room, restroom and café.
Statement elements, while coming in different sizes, shapes and colors, all aim to be the room’s focal point. Within Hilb’s conference rooms and collaborative areas lighting accomplishes this. Outside of its functional purpose, lighting elevates sophistication, providing a sense of room depth. Within the conference rooms, LightArt Acoustic Echo light fixtures act as sculptural forms of radiating stars while simultaneously absorbing sound “Selecting multifunctional design elements is an asset in reducing cost without compromising design. These fixtures are both alluring and eye catching. Functionally, they absorb sound and reduce reverberation time, thereby improving acoustics,” explains Maryellen Butler, Project Architect. The light fins and hubs are created from felt and 50% post-consumer recycled content. Simultaneously a vertical and horizontal component, they add both ambience and dimension.
Contemporary Spaces and Lifestyles
Exposed structure ceilings – while imparting a chic, open space – require preplanning to ensure noise reduction. Within Hilb’s reception area, floor and ceiling elements imbue a rectilinear perspective within a foreshortened space via acoustic blades and LVT (luxury vinyl tile). Bringing both performance benefits, texture and tonality, the acoustic blades offer contrasting color while containing the noise impact of an open ceiling. Additionally, hexagonal ceiling clouds in lime and gray serve a similar purpose within the employee cubicle area, contributing drama and atmosphere. These more expensive acoustic design elements were reserved for strategic locations “With colored blades costing more, box count determined the number of green and gray blades used. Through value engineering, the blades and clouds were installed without moving the existing HVAC structure,” says Butler. “During value engineering, the project is viewed holistically versus via single product elements to minimize costs without compromising design. This project exemplifies design build’s benefits whereby collaborating with the planner and estimating costs results in greater options during the design process”.
Within high traffic areas, LVT was selected due to its lower environmental impact and performance capability. Durable and easy to clean, Patcraft’s Mark Making – tile created using a graphic technique similar to watercolors that results in a pattern / tonal texture similar to rug –provides the same look, warmth and buoyancy as carpet. Additionally conscious consumption was exercised in furniture selections. Working with the supplier CREATIVE, furniture pieces with pre and post-recycled content as high as 65% were used. Likewise architectural components were retained where possible, including the majority of the interior doors and windows.
Cool, Neutral Tones
As is commonly found within corporate environments, Hilb’s accent colors of lime green and blue follow brand guidelines. Used for featured elements, the remaining color pallet was designed with complementing warm, neutral shades. Natural wood tones were utilized for large furniture pieces such as conference room tables. This results in ceiling blades, flooring, lights and furniture creating a layered, textured design. As a classic background, the versatility of neutrals allows for branding and personal taste to come to the forefront.
Pairing internal design with branding is an exercise in culture, aesthetics, employee comfort and customer bonding. Within a designer’s toolbox, statement pieces, product choices, color tonality and texture all support a space’s dynamism. As seen with Hilb, this design rationale fulfills the firm’s goal of creating a motivating sense of purposefulness for both clients and internal team alike. An optimal space never loses sight that it acts not just as a workplace experience but purposes to engage and align occupants with a firm’s values. States Kevin Quinn, Dacon’s CEO, “With their high-performance culture, Hilb knows how to offer its clients more in expertise, attention and market intelligence. We are delighted to have created an office that reflects these attributes of success”.