LiRo's New York City hub is located on the 28th floor of One State Street Plaza in the Battery Park section of Downtown Manhattan. Designed by LiRo's Architecture Division, the new $3.3 million, 75-person workspace is large and flexible enough to accommodate future growth. The contemporary, open, and collaborative 13,500 sf space consolidates several different LiRo departments from three separate Manhattan locations, effectively doubling the amount of office space the firm occupies in the city. While there are designated work areas for the various groups, it was decided early on that the new space should promote open communication and collaboration among them all.
LiRo's in-house MEP Division served as the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers on the project. A Building Management System (BMS) monitors supplemental heating and air conditioning, as well as life-safety systems, installed as part of the project. The BMS is a fully integrated, user-friendly, web-based system that can be controlled from within the office space itself, or remotely from the Syosset headquarters.
The space, surrounded on two sides by full height, continuous windows with views of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, features expansive open-office sections; multiple team workstations; and fully glazed walls in conference rooms, collaborative meeting rooms, and private offices. The two all-glass conference rooms are both adjacent to the perimeter wall of windows and its breathtaking vistas. Thanks to the LiRo designers' use of open-plan workspaces and glazing, view are completely unobstructed from one end of the office all the way to the other. This visual catalyzes LiRo's notion of "openness" and "transparency" in its operations.
While there are numerous factors that play a significant role in office layout planning, understanding the space available is among the most crucial. When presented with the layout how did the shape and natural boundaries guide your efforts?
MRF: We understood early on that the existing panoramic views within the space would be the main focal point to define our layout. As soon as you enter the space, you cannot help but be drawn to these views. You really feel its presence and it gives you a strong connection with the outside environment. In addition to our design approach of an open floor plan, we sought to maintain the integrity of the views with minimal obstructions. It was only natural that the majority of our workstations and collaborative spaces were set along the façades.
Office layout provides a powerful influence on employee productivity. For the new NYC office, LiRo choose an open office floor plan that inspires creativity and encourages employee interactions. Were there any major iterations to the plans you encountered that you did not expect in order to get it just right?
MRF: When designing for any project you have specific scoping requirements and goals that can, at times, change as the design progresses. This was the case with the office layout. Our initial designs had a set number of workstations and offices, but as LiRo continued to grow so did our requirements. This called for a redesign of the spatial relationships in order to accommodate the additional scope.
The new space encourages collaboration, offers multiple choices as to how and where to work, and provides stunning views of New York City. What has been the response from the employees working in the new space?
KNW: Our co-workers have adopted the open space concept on multiple levels and from our first day in the new location. The view from the panoramic windows on the bay is simply stunning and it was like a breeze of "space freedom" compare to the outdated cubical type workstations. Since the use of space depends on an individual's personality, we have noticed different approaches but as time passes by, all comes to one conclusion: the new space is a collaborative STUDIO rather "the office" and with that said, the new, more creative ideas started planting their roots in LiRo's design.
The LiRo office space not only represents where the company is today, but also where our organization is headed. What features did you include in the new space with the company's future in mind?
KNW: First, our design purposely accommodated LiRo's rapid growth. Second, the adjustable workstations are not only a new trend among designers but a futuristic approach to work interactions. A standing position not only improves your posture but, by having your head higher, gives you better perspective on what's around you.
What is one highlight of the new office space that is your favorite?
KNW: The open concept of LiRo's new hub allowed everybody to have a great view on the bay and Statue of Liberty, which was the best highlight for the new office. Although, my favorite feature is the interaction of two large conference rooms and the employee's kitchen lounge, where the functionality is used to its maximum. The view, the amount of space and state-of-the-art audio-visual system make these two spaces perfect for constructive discussions, and the kitchen is a place where new ideas are freely born during lunch time.
MRF: If I had to select something other than the views, I would have to say the main entrance. As you enter the space it sets the tone of openness, directionality, and transparency within the area. This is the case for every detail, even down to the lighting and the reception desk, which was designed to direct you towards the western and southern views, as this promotes interaction with the surrounding environment.
Kathy Niewiadomska-Wong, LEED AP
Kathy has over 20 years of design experience with variety of projects in United States and Poland. Her career has been focused on governmental buildings, correctional facilities design and project management. Her receipt of first prize for "Best Design in 2001" from the Polish Department of Buildings for Design, Integrity and Environmental Protection, recognizing her work on the Warsaw New Stock Exchange, was published in numerous professional publications. Her life passions are world travel and learning innovative sustainable design technologies. Kathy earned a Master's Degree in Architecture from Warsaw University of Technology.
Melissa Rivera-Ferguson, LEED GA
Melissa has over 8 years of experience with design, space planning, and project management. She is motivated and committed to creating innovative and productive work environments and has the ability to define scope of work and execute a design based on programmatic needs. Her diverse portfolio of interior renovations includes offices, instructional spaces, cafes, and lounges. Melissa has a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from City College of New York.