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Work to Live or Live to Work CPG ARCHITECTS

CPG Architects out of Stamford, Conn. seeks to create the kind of work spaces where employees look forward to Mondays.

northeast | architecture


CPG Architects out of Stamford, Conn. seeks to create the kind of work spaces where employees look forward to Mondays. Text by Paige L. Hill Photos by ESTO (Lime Rock Partners & Nestle Waters) Photos by Jim Herity Photography (MOAB Oil) 2 Architecture Leaders Today

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ost Americans spend more time at work than they do at home – an average 40 percent of their waking hours are passed at the office, according to a study by the Center for Work Life Policy. So, why don’t we treat the workplace as as we do our homes with respect to design, function, and comfort? Gary Unger, founder and president of CPG Architects, has been working to change that. For 30 years CPG’s mission has always been to design work environments where their clients’ employees love to work. As each client differs with their own specific goals and objectives, so are CPG’s design solutions. CPG purposely does not have a “company design style,” but rather tries to bring out the cusomized requirements of each client. “There have been significant changes in the last few years in how offices operate,” Unger said. “There is an idea that an office design can be a ‘one size fits all’ solution, when in reality each office operates so differently that our designs are almost completely unique in relation to each other.” Two of CPG’s latest projects illustrate this concept perfectly. Herein, both companies are of similar size, headquartered in Connecticut, a few miles from each other, and both are leaders in energy investment and oil trading; however, each is very different in their definitions of company image and design objectives. Lime Rock Partners, in Westport, Conn., retained CPG to design their new “suburban” space in an “urban sophisticated” language. The design challenge was to create an open, expansive feeling in a traditional plan where perimeter private offices prevailed. The full-height special patterned glass for the office fronts balanced the admission of light and view to the interior while screening the occupants from full exposure. The space features river views, open foyer and reception, a large open community dining space, boardroom and fitness center. The color palette consists of neurtral tones, creating a backdrop for an extensive art collection and a “Ferrari” red accent on the building core for the car enthusiasts that work there. The team of thirty now has a family-like atmosphere with a variety of spaces offering the opportunity to learn, collaborate and socialize. The large conference room is fitted out with sophisticated audiovisual systems to provide for communication among their offices. MOAB Oil, on the other hand, chose a renovated industrial building in South Norwalk for their headquarters. For the employees at MOAB Oil, socializing and entertaining is the way they do business so creating an environment that reflected that was paramount to the design. When CPG met with MOAB over a few dinner meetings, the 4 Architecture Leaders Today

architects discovered that they would really like something akin to a clubhouse for an office; CPG delivered just that. Their extremely informal “frat house” culture inspired CPG to incorporate a list of features that would be a young man’s dream come true. The team’s 30 trading positions are surrounded by video monitors and supported by a sports bar, pool and dart room, video gaming center, and a full kitchen and bar. It was designed with an open, collaborative layout. There are no assigned private offices. The six-person trading pods were oriented so that sightlines and views were maximized for good communications and the shared common rooms surround the trading area. “It’s interesting that the two companies are running very similar businesses with very similar objectives, but operate incredibly differently,” Unger said. However, for most of CPG’s clients this is the norm – today there are no rules – companies are exploring new ways of working to support their brand.

“It is a very exciting time for our designers,” Unger said. Their happy clients may be part of the reason why 70-80 percent of CPG’s business is from repeat clientele, like designing the new headquarters for Nestle Waters North America,with whom the firm has been working since the mid 1980s. When the largest producers of bottled water products in the world decided they would move from the facility they occupied for over thirty years, they turned to CPG to help them through the planning, design and relocation phases. The management at Nestle viewed their move to a new headquarters as a rare opportunity to reinvent their work style and culture. They wanted a more open collaborative type facility. Fortunately, CPG senior management remained thoroughly involved in the process. CPG and Nestle management reviewed every facility for miles around that could provide about 175,000 sq. ft. and the exhaustive process

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PREVIOUS SPREAD: Lime Rock Partners, in Westport, Conn. The color palette is neutral with a “Ferrari” red accent on the building core, for the many car enthusiasts who work at the energy investment and oil trading firm. THIS SPREAD, AT LEFT: Lime Rock Partners. At left, how CPG created an openness where perimeter private offices prevailed. BELOW, RIGHT: Lime Rock Partners. The custom glass features a raindrop-like pattern to diffuse the natural light. BELOW, LEFT: Lime Rock Partners. The reception area embodies the “urban sophisticated” design the partners asked for.

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CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: MOAB Oil. South Norwalk, Conn. The office space matches their laidback style of doing business, where socializingis prominent and the partners often work odd hours. The kitchen/bar area feels more like a hip restaurant than an office. The reception area boasts large leather armcahirs and an up-todate stock market feed. The reception area includes an aquarium and vintage gas pump.

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took a few years to find the right space. A Nestle relocation team was organized and from the outset the phrase they felt best described their design goal with was “Nestle at home.” Throughout the design process, words that were used to support the tagline were natural, comfortable, elegant, collaborative and fluid. “Nestle wanted their headquarters to reflect who they really are – which they knew was not a sleek, cold, modern office; but rather a warm, comfortable office with a lot of natural materials,” Unger said. “They wanted something clean, neat and elegant, but also a workplace where their family and friends would feel comfortable stopping by.” “We started the design process with a phase we call visioning; first understanding the CEO’s point of view, moving through to the management team and then to the rest of the employees,” Unger said. “We began with their tagline and then made sure that we understood what everyone thought that meant. Listening is the most important thing we do as architects.” CPG’s visioning sessions began with senior management throwing around brand, planning, design and workplace standards ideas and ended by inviting the rest of the employees to participate in what Unger calls a “snow card” session – where employees write one idea about any subject on their mind on a white 5x7 index card. Cards are then organized by subject and pinned on the walls. Subjects often include employees’ ideas about their environment, lighting and air quality and control, furniture design, acoustics, colors and materials. When all the cards are pinned up on the walls, the room looks like snow falling. “I’ve never seen an employee ask for something impossible in one of these sessions,” Unger said. “I think that senior management should never be worried about involving everyone in this discussion. There is only an upside to the process, never a downside. The goal is to make everyone happy to work in the space, so why not ask everyone? With 90 percent of most companies’ expenses being related to salary , it’s a no-brainer to involve the staff.” Unger himself eschews an isolated office at CPG in favor of a desk among the team. “I like to be a part of the action. I found that when I worked alone in a ‘private office’ that no one came by to talk to me or involve me in the discussion,” Unger said. The Nestle Headquarters also boasts plenty of collaborative space – 100 percent of open office space. “The former Nestle headquarters were about 80 percent offices and 20 percent open workstations and we played with the idea of inverting that in the new space; we eventually ended up with 100 percent of fluid, collaborative spaces that moves easily into each other,” Unger said. The headquarters boasts a spacious cafeteria with comfortable seating, a 125-seat auditorium with all the technical September/October 2011 7

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capabilities for large-scale presentations. Walking trails on the campus surround the office for some impromptu exercise. Nestle also uses CPG’s facility management system software to manage day-to-day change. The system coordinates information from the many databases where an employee’s name is kept: human resources, administration, benefits, payroll and more, to simplify the reporting process to all departments when new staff joins or leaves the company or moves internally. Unger says it is indispensable to have an up-to-date account that shows all staff names and where there are vacant spaces. “We call it ‘life after open house’ which means that we don’t pack up and leave after an office hosts an open house party to celebrate the new office,” Under said. Prior to starting CPG, Unger was a director of planning and design for American Express from 1974 to 1980. From that position, he learned that the difficult part of the architectural process was not getting a building or space built; rather, it was managing day-to-day change and keeping management updated with facility metrics. “There was such a lack of efficiency and so much time wasted running around asking ‘Who sits here?’ and ‘How many vacant seats do we have?’,” Unger said. When he founded CPG in 1979, he knew he wanted to develop this type of software. When the technology became available in 1990, he started Link Systems to design, market and implement facility management systems. Since then, Link Systems has added lease administration software for corporations to track their owned and leased properties as well as portfolio management software for building owners to track tenant spaces in their office buildings. “We just keep pushing ourselves to improve the design process and operate with greater openness to gain happy clients,” Unger said. He credits his three principals Karen Lika, Jenny Paik and Carl Mirbach for creating a challenging design environment that keeps him on his toes. “We want the process to be as painless as possible; in fact, for most clients it becomes loads fun.” ALT

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THIS SPREAD: Nestle Waters North America Headquarters, Stamford, Conn. CPG created the “Nestle at home” interior they envisioned. BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: One of their board rooms is decorated with their products. The completely open, collaborative workspace. One of their social spaces is warm and inviting.

LEGERE GROUP | 860-674-0392 Since 1975, Legere Group has manufactured top-rate architectural millwork and casework for corporate, commercial, hospitality and institutional clients throughout the eastern U.S. Their custom woodworking solutions have been changing the definition of corporate interior design. Legere brings a hands-on approach when working with architects to fully execute clients’ visions. Legere maintains their relationships with architecture firms by providing samples, schedules, budget and general consultation throughout all stages from design to production. All work is meticulously crafted and checked for quality in Legere Group’s state-of-the-art 177,000 sq. ft. facility in Avon, Conn. Legere Group has worked with CPG Architects for 20 years on over 140 jobs nationwide. Among their clients are high-profile firms such as Bridgewater Associates, MOAB Oil, Nestle Waters, Sun Products, Lime Rock Partners, IMS, US Tobacco and GE. Legere’s millwork for CPG alone has accumulated an estim­ated value in excess of $15 million. As an AWI-QCP Certified manufacturer, Legere maintains the highest commitment to delivering long-lasting quality. Legere is capable of handling jobs of all sizes from small jobs like interior trim on a luxury yacht to large installations for corporate offices and public spaces. September/October 2011 9

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hat really sets us apart as an engineering firm is the way we’ve built ourselves up,” said Bruce Tourigny, president of Collective Design Associates. “We began Collective Design Associates as a sort of mom and pop engineering firm. Originally, we started out with a focus on smaller projects. But as we’ve grown, we’ve kept the mom and pop feel, largely due to how tightly knit our staff has become. Now, we’re doing major hotels, operating and commercial facilities and high-rise buildings instead.” Since the firm’s inception in 1989, Collective Design Associates has been dedicated to exceptional performance as well as designing and engineering mechanical, electrical and plumbing system for new construction, renovations and expansion projects. As a full service, multi-disciplined consulting engineering firm, Collective Design Associates has cemented their reputation through their successes around the globe, from New Hampshire to Brazil, and from St. Johns to Saudi Arabia. “Throughout the entire scope of our work, our goal is to get much deeper into the field of energy-conscious construction,” Tourigny said. “As more and more alternative energy sources come into the mainstream, we begin enjoying more and more options that will get us away from the high costs of oil, coal and the like. Right now, we’ve been doing a lot of work with firms like Solar Change. They’ll take the standard scope of solar panels and hot water systems, and convert them for use in pools, air conditioning and for utility purposes. This is the kind of innovation, experimentation and excellence in design that we foster. As oil prices continue to rise, so will the demand for innovative, sustainable technology.” Recently, Collective Design Associates had the chance to pull out all the stops in terms of sustainable, energy efficient design work. Working alongside CPG, Collective Design Associates helped the new Nestle Waters building in

Stamford, Conn. become a reality. As a renovation project, the firm began with an in-depth investigation into the possibilities available in the 165,000 sq. ft., four-story building. “We’ve been working with CPG quite frequently over the past decade at least,” Tourigny said. “Above all, the level of talent we see from them, time and time again, is simply astounding. A majority of the work we’ve done with them has been in the commercial sectors, as is this Nestle Waters project. When we found out that this renovation project was seeking LEED Gold, we knew we had our work cut out for us. With lots of hard work from our team, alongside CPG, we were able to not only meet but also exceed LEED Gold.” In the scope of their undertaking, Collective Design Associates managed the entire commission of the energy efficient systems for the Nestle Waters project. Further, the firm also handled large portions of the design and engineering work, all across the renovated building, including all of the paperwork required for obtaining the LEED Gold. Having worked across the country, on a wide variety of projects in all conceivable market sectors, Collective Design Associates has maintained an astounding portfolio. The firm can serve in any capacity, on any project of any size: airports, banks, server rooms and data processing centers, educational instutitions and energy projects, fire and police stations, retail franchises, hospitality, hospital and medical facilities, telecommunication projects and port facility projects. Collective Design Associates is licensed in 24 states and is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Building Officials and Code Administrators and the United States Green Building Council. November/December 2011 11

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Faithful+Gould congratulates Gary Unger and CPG Architects on their continued success.


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Pavarini Construction aided CPG Architects in fast-tracking the construction of the 164,000 sq. ft. Nestle Waters office facility in Stamford, Conn. Pavarini helped achieve LEED Gold certification while constructing a quality-built structure at a fast-track pace.

The millwork company that specializes in service. Legere has been serving the market for high quality woodwork for more than a quarter century. With our experienced team, our capacity and capabilities, we look forward to continued growth. Every project is unique, and Legere has completed thousands.Visit us online to view completed projects,

Material waste was diverted from landfills and recycled where possible. Pavarani installed low-flow plumbing fixtures, energyrated appliances and movement-triggered, power-saving light systems. Throughout the building recycled wood is used on the millwork and all paint, carpet and sealant was low-VOC. To keep on schedule, Pavarini worked closely with subcontractors to ensure that materials arrived one month before occupancy – like the state-of-the-art, data and audio/visual equipment for the 1,700 sq. ft. data center. In addition to the interior fit-out, Pavarini also provided CM Services for the exterior of the building; painting the façade and refurbishing the parking garage with new lighting, stripping, curbs, paving and installing ADA compliant ramps.

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CPG Architects - Collective Design Associates Featurette  

CPG Architects out of Stamford, Conn. seeks to create th kind of work spaces where employees look forward to Mondays.

CPG Architects - Collective Design Associates Featurette  

CPG Architects out of Stamford, Conn. seeks to create th kind of work spaces where employees look forward to Mondays.