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A Breath of Fresh Air The new fit-out for law firm Baker & McKenzie makes lawyers feel at home in the workplace

aw firms have a reputation for being stuffy, erring on the conservative side, but Bates Smart’s new office fit-out for Baker & McKenzie thoroughly dispels this notion. Located in Melbourne’s CBW development (corner of Bourke & William Streets), these offices are a breath of fresh air. “Our brief was to evolve work space into a place that connects staff rather than segments them,” says Interior Designer Rachael McCarthy, Associate Director at Bates Smart. While Baker & McKenzie have a large global practice with 67 offices in 39 countries, the Melbourne office is considered relatively small (approximately 150 staff). Part of Bates Smart’s brief was to brand the Melbourne arm, creating a local as well as international context. This branding process is initially revealed at reception, located on Level 19, the top level of the three-level fitout. Behind the etched glass reception desk is a map of the world by Design Immersion. Instead of traditional ink markings, each country is defined by aluminium tubes in section, with the location of Baker & McKenzie’s offices highlighted by red in almost every country. Dividing the ‘world wall’ is a collage of fabrics, from Scottish tartan to Indigenous designs, an idea that McCarthy says is carried through to all the signage.


ABOVE At reception is a world map showing the location of Baker & McKenzie's offices RIGHT Stephen Hennessy's sculpture extends through a stairwell surrounded by built-in bookcases

Bates Smart has used a sensitive mix of materials in their recent fit-out. The foyer for example, features travertine floors and Walnut timber walls balanced by harder machine-like materials such as the etched glass reception counter. Another example of successfully contrasting elements is the textile-inspired signage that sits comfortably beside a built-in television screen. “The design is a fusion of the highly crafted with the latest in technology,” says McCarthy. The latest technology can also be seen in the boardroom, adjacent to the reception area. Rather than featuring a dominating board table surrounded by high back chairs, this room doubles as a conference and training room. The room is capable of being divided into three separate rooms, but instead of a three-in-one arrangement, the boardroom is a seamless entity when used in its entirety. Each wall, however, contains its own technology, such as audiovisual monitors and automated screens. “Flexibility was paramount in the brief,” says McCarthy. “There is a board table here, but it’s currently segmented to form several tables. They can easily be reconfigured.” There is also a subtle blurring of corporate and domestic design in this fit-out. The informal lounge area (on Level 19) contains two easy armchairs, a lamp and coffee table. “It’s a place for clients to wait. But it can also be used as a meeting area,” says McCarthy. Transparent glass frames the adjacent client office, while in other meeting rooms tinted glass preserves privacy. “We wanted to achieve greater transparency. But it’s not at the expense of privacy,” she says. One of the main issues facing Bates Smart was providing a strong connection between the three levels that make up the Baker & McKenzie office. One of the strongest devices to cement this connection is achieved with Stephen Hennessy’s twisted red aluminium sculpture. Extending over three levels, this dynamic form animates the void. “This area was the darkest part of the building. We wanted to breathe life into it, as well as providing a strong visual tie to the three levels,” says McCarthy. While Hennessy’s sculpture is pivotal to the design, other elements, like the library, are played down. “A law library was once a key component. But



“ Our brief was to evolve work space into a place that connects staff rather than segments them” Rachael McCarthy, Bates Smart

above Glazed wall offices and open plan break-out spaces represent a contemporary approach to the workplace right The matching mosaic splashback and table in the kitchen give the space a domestic feel Far right Hennessy’s sculpture begins on the lower level and visual connects the floors Top right The open workspace has touches of greenery throughout

technology has changed that,” says McCarthy. For example, the stairwell is framed with built-in bookcases, rather than having a separate library. What is now more pronounced are the breakout areas, including the main kitchen on Level 18. Complete with a mosaic splashback and concealed appliances, the kitchen has a strong domestic feel. “Lawyers tend to put in a lot of overtime. We wanted to make them feel at home, even if it was eight at night,” she says. The workspaces also represent a contemporary approach to the workplace. While there are open plan offices on each level, there are also glazed walled offices, all of which have been located away from the periphery of the building. “We wanted everyone to enjoy the views, rather than create a hierarchical arrangement,” says McCarthy. Bates Smart also designed a number of single and dual offices, the latter having separate entrances, with each desk diagonally offset. “We didn’t want to line up desks again a wall. You might be sharing an office, but people need a sense of their own space,” she says. Change rooms, lockers and a media area (a place to peruse newspapers and magazines) are other features of Baker & McKenzie’s Melbourne office. This reflects the way staff work, as well as how they travel to work, with some lawyers riding their bicycles. “The place is continually evolving,” says McCarthy, who delights in seeing lawyers add their own signature to their individual offices.

Stephen Crafti is Indesign’s Melbourne correspondent.




left Vibrant artworks bring

colour to the neutral palette of materials

ad Baker & McKenzie Base Building Architects Bates Smart with SJB Architects Interior Design Bates Smart Interior Design Team Jeffery Copolov (Interior Design Director), Rachael McCarthy (Associate Director), Paul Purcell (Associate Director), Craig Benton (Interior Designer), Martine Bonich (Interior Designer), Kate Anderson, Guilherme Rodrigues, Lai Yee Chan, Ernst Rutte, Natalie Brown Project Manager Coffey Projects (Roger Marshallsea and Yvonne Eng) Builder Walton Construction Building Surveyor McKenzie Group Quantity Surveyor Altus Page Kirkland Services Engineers Norman Disney & Young Structural Engineers Marshall Day DDA & OHS Architecture & Access Kitchen Consultant McCartney Taylor Dimitroff Storage Consultant Puzzle Partners Graphic Designer Design Immersion

Time to Complete 10 months (planning & development: 17 weeks, tender & documentation: 8 weeks, build: 16 weeks) Total Floor Area 4500m2 Bates Smart (61 3) 8664 6200 ARTWORK Feature sculpture at Internal Stair by Stephen Hennessy Art & Design. FURNITURE In Reception Waiting Area, Walter Knoll ‘FK Bucket Lounge’ from Living Edge, and Saarinen coffee table by Knoll Studio from dedece. In open plan Work Area, Moroso ‘Fjord’ chair from Hub. Touchdown bench at Stair is Hans Wegner ‘Wishbone’ chair from Corporate Culture. In Media Lounge, Derlot ‘Plantation’ rocker and Verzelloni ‘Patty’ chair, both from Stylecraft. In Media Lounge, and Meeting Room Waiting Area, Walter Knoll ‘Ribbon’ table from Living Edge. In Staff Breakout, Patricia Urquiola ‘Flo’ chair from Space Furniture. In Meeting Room, Arper ‘Catifa

46’ chairs from Stylecraft. In Boardroom, Herman Miller aluminium ‘Group Management’ Eames chair from Living Edge. In Project Room, Herman Miller Eames table with segmented base also from Living Edge. In Library, ‘Compactus’ shelving is by Dexion. Office and workstation task chairs throughout are ‘Zody’ by Haworth. LIGHTING In Reception and Stair, ‘T5’ fluorescents from Inlite. In Front of House Meeting Rooms, downlights are from Euroluce and dedece. In Offices, task lamps available from Moonlighting. Two-tone fabric drum pendants and floor and table lamps in Back of House Meeting Rooms and open plan Work Area are custom made from Satelight Design. FINISHES Carpet tiles to Work Area are ‘Equilibrium’ in Constant by InterfaceFLOR, carpet to Stairs is custom from Artoz Rugs + Carpets, and broadloom carpet to Boardroom is ‘Object’ carpet in Silver Loop

from Tsar. Flooring to Lift Lobby and Reception Area is travertine from Aeria Country Floors. Fabric to War Rooms is Maharam ‘Repeat Classics’ from Kvadrat Maharam, upholstery in Media Lounge and Staff Breakout is ‘Fiscus’ in Star Anise from Mokum, and fabric to workstations is ‘Base’ in Bedlam from Macquarie Textiles. Doors in Lift Lobby and trims throughout are black mirror stainless steel from Rimex Group. Joinery in Offices is Eveneer Walnut timber veneer from Elton Group and Oak timber veneer from Amerind. Generally throughout, paint from Dulux. FIXED & FITTED In Teapoints, stainless steel undermount sinks from Clark, Scala taps from Reece, and bins from Häfele. In Teapoints, Multifunction Room and Parents’ Room, soap dispensers from Bradley Australia. In Change Rooms, shower combinations from Reece, and shower roses from Rogerseller. In Disabled WC, basin from Reece. Generally throughout, joinery door handles from Pittella Imports.

Aeria Country Floors (61 3) 9690 9292 Alternative Surfaces (61 3) 9427 1100 Amerind 1300 850 477 Artoz Rugs + Carpets (61 3) 9431 1345 Bradley Australia 1300 364 561 Clark 13 14 16 Corporate Culture (61 3) 9654 8522 dedece (61 3) 9650 9600 Dexion (61 3) 9921 9000 Dulux 13 23 77 Elton Group (61 3) 9499 7776 Euroluce (61 3) 9657 9657 Häfele (61 3) 9212 2000 Haworth (61 3) 8643 6300 Hub (61 3) 9652 1222 Inlite (61 3) 9429 9828 InterfaceFLOR (61 3) 9214 0710 Kvadrat Maharam (61 2) 9212 4277 Living Edge (61 3) 9009 3940 Macquarie Textiles (61 3) 9349 8888 au Mokum (61 3) 9811 4100 Moonlighting (61 3) 9235 2400 Pittella Imports (61 3) 9818 0311 Reece (61 3) 9274 0000 Rimex Group (61 2) 4340 5599 Rogerseller (61 3) 9429 8888 Satelight Design (61 3) 9399 5805 Space Furniture (61 3) 9426 3000 Stephen Hennessy Art & Design Stylecraft (61 3) 9666 4300 Tsar (61 3) 9534 1622

Baker and McKenzie, Indesign, Aug 2010  
Baker and McKenzie, Indesign, Aug 2010