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Converge: A Coworking CafĂŠ

Copyright 2014 Chris Ann West All rights reserved

Converge: A Coworking Café Office + Café + Living Room by Chris Ann West


With special thanks to Dawn Fischer

CONTENTS ABSTRACT.................................................................................1 STATEMENT OF INTENT............................................................2 LITERATURE REVIEW................................................................6 CASE STUDY 1 BULLITT CENTER...........................................14 CASE STUDY 2 IMPACT HUB..................................................19 CASE STUDY 3 WORKCAFÉ.....................................................23 DESIGN PROPOSAL - VEHICLE...............................................27 PROGRAM................................................................................28 SITE..........................................................................................29 SITE ANALYSIS.........................................................................31 DESIGN GOALS........................................................................39 GLOSSARY................................................................................52 BIBLIOGRAPHY........................................................................53 LIST OF FIGURES.....................................................................56

ABSTRACT Convergence and divergence implies proximity and movement – coming together and moving apart. We travel through space from one place to another through doorways, along corridors, away from one space toward another space, to join people, or to get away. To converge there is nearness, and when we diverge there is distance with varied directions and pathways. In order to explore the idea of convergence and divergence, three key principles are identified: proximity, boundaries and transition. The concept of converge is applied to the act of collaboration and socializing in the workplace, while diverge is related to focus work and study. These are highly relevant topics in today’s workplace. Collaboration requires the convergence of people, which involves proximity. The flip side of collaborative work, and of equal importance, is individual focus work. Moving from one to the other requires transition, and when they take place simultaneously, boundaries are necessary. These opposites need to be respected equally, and co-exist. Divergence and convergence are applied to the vehicle of a Coworking office and café. The merging of a Coworking office with a café provides opportunities for chance encounters with diverse people. Coworking spaces are shared workplaces that bring together varied people who share similar values. Coworkers desire a sense of community and professionalism not found working from home or in a café. This project is attempting to find solutions which will encompass a balance of convergent and divergent activity by offering the choice of a variety of spaces.


STATEMENT OF INTENT The intent of this project is to explore ways to balance convergent and divergent activities in the workplace through proximity, boundaries, and transition.

CONVERGENCE IS: Coming together // Merging // Commingling // Intersecting


DIVERGENCE IS: Developing in different directions // Separating // Distancing



PROXIMITY Proximity is defined as: the state of being near. Proximity is not always necessary for collaboration in today’s world. Technology enables us to send emails, documents and images instantly, or see a person’s image while speaking to them in real time. But there is no substitute for the nearness of people when collaboration is necessary. A Gestalt principle of organization holds that (other things being equal) objects or events that are near to one another (in space or time) are perceived as belonging together as a unit (Cherry, 2013).

Figure 1 Diagram of Proximity


BOUNDARY Boundary is defined as: the line or plane indicating the limit or extent of something, or a point or limit that indicates where two things become different. A boundary can be a three-dimensional plane, either opaque or transparent, it can be a line as defined by different colors, or other means, or even a point, such as a tree, post, or column, which marks the boundary of a property. A boundary is the place where things converge or diverge.

Figure 2 Diagram of Boundary


TRANSITION Transition is defined as: passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another. So, as passage implies movement - through space - from one place to another place, across a boundary, either away from or toward proximity.

Figure 3 Diagram of Transition


LITERATURE REVIEW How do we, as designers, create spaces which support people to be productive, engaged, and satisfied in the workplace? It may help if we look at the workplace as a tool for achieving these goals, like the interior of a high-performance car. We also need to place a higher value on the wellbeing of workers. “Overcoming places that reduce our effectiveness and threaten our dignity always takes time and energy” (Becker, 1995). Many workplaces of today constrain work effectiveness, according to Gensler’s 2013 Workplace Survey, which states that “U.S. workers are struggling to work effectively” (Gensler, 2013). The knowledge worker of today needs to access information rapidly, and to be able to communicate with each other, either face-to-face, or using technology when miles apart. However, they also need to be able to spend time away from noise and distraction in order to be effective when collaborating (2013). Distraction appears to be one of the main complaints. However, with a variety of responsive settings from which to choose, people can select from spaces that promote divergent or convergent work styles, and transition back and forth smoothly between them. How to achieve this balance of focused and collaborative work flow is the topic of this research.

Figure 4 Convergent = Collaborate & Socialize Divergent = Learn and Focus


Collaboration has long been thought of as the most important aspect of teamwork. “Real breakthrough comes from people doing the hard work of innovation together, mixing their ideas in a bouillabaisse of insights and laddered thinking” (Steelcase, 2013). In a recent survey conducted by Gensler, however, it was also found that being able to focus is crucial for an individual to function and collaborate to their maximum abilities (Gensler, 2013). “Enabling employees to perform their jobs effectively begins with supporting the individual, focused work that represents the core of their days and a critical aspect of employee and team performance” (Gensler, 2013, p. 17). Convergence and divergence can also be seen in thinking processes. Psychologists research what is called divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking tends to be associated with creativity in that it moves away in non-linear directions which can lead to innovative ideas and solutions. “A divergent thinker is looking for options as opposed to choosing among predetermined ones” (Bernhard, 2013). Convergent thinking, however, brings together information focused on solving problems, especially those with a single correct solution. “In convergent thinking, you begin by focusing on a limited number of choices as possibilities. Then you choose the “right” answer or course of action from among those choices” (Bernhard, 2013).


Figure 5 Convergent and Divergent Thinking (Collaborative Transformation)

Understanding these thinking processes can help support the convergent and divergent activities in the workplace. This process is also used as an approach to design. Tim Brown of IDEO, an award-winning global design firm, uses divergent thinking, or “design thinking,” as an approach to innovation (Brown, 2013). Brown says, “The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps” (2013). Brown uses this form of thinking to learn from the symbiotic relationships in the forest. This can be applied to office systems, which can be thought of as organizational ecologies (Becker, 1995, p. 6). For example, biologists have found that birch trees and rhododendrons grow near each other in the woods. The rhododendron provides the birch with defensive molecules that protect it from insects, while the birch shades the rhododendron, which helps it retain moisture. This allows both to thrive. Brown writes, “Learning from ecosystems like the forest, we form cohesive groups that add up to more than a sum of competing parts. More than anything else, it is this deep collaboration that enables our teams to thrive in challenging work environments” (2013).

Figure 6 Convergent Thinking (


In order to converge, there must be a space which can accommodate people in a variety of settings. “The right kinds of spaces can help people collaborate, share knowledge, learn together, and build the social networks of trustful interaction that are so critical for solving big challenges� (Steelcase, 2013). Teams need access to each other, their tools, and information within close proximity. Communication is the glue that keeps collaboration moving forward (Becker, 1995, p. 70). Often, collaboration does not take place within the constraints of a planned meeting, but happens on the fly, during brief conversations in a hallway. The concept of mobility is gaining acceptance through the positive results of Steelcase’s new Corporate Development Center (CDC) (Becker, 1995, p. 75). Steelcase places a high degree of value on informal communication, based on research done by MIT professor Thomas Allen (Becker, 1995, p. 72). He found that high performance ratings were largely due to chance encounters that people have with each other, not even those with whom they work, necessarily. This gives people stimulating ideas and breaks down barriers between people from diverse cultures and work disciplines (Becker, 1995, p. 73). The designers at NBBJ have also implemented this principle in planning their Seattle office (Griffin, 2013). They deliberately created a narrow space for the coffee room so that employees would be crowded into the passage which provides the opportunity to bump into one another. At NBBJ, the coffee room, mail room and resource room are all centrally located so that people from different offices converge into one place. According to Emily Moses at Steelcase, another way to facilitate the flow of communication is by using standing height tables along pathways and in social areas. Standing height desks, bars, and work benches have an equalizing effect (Moses, 2013). There can be a group sitting around it, and if one person wants to stand, they will still be at the same height and not feel awkward. This would also apply if someone new were walking by and wanted to enter the conversation; they would not feel odd for standing when all present are at the same height. The option is also good to allow for different postures throughout a long meeting. Teams can choose to sit, perch, or stand.


A wide variety of choice is important, as found by both Gensler and Steelcase. As well as supplying team rooms, individual work stations, and conference rooms, it’s also vital to create “activity generators” (Becker, 1995, p. 76). These are areas such as copy centers, mail stations, cafés, atriums, or break rooms that facilitate face-to-face contact. These areas can be used to display work in progress for others to view using bulletin boards or electronic information monitors, which can draw people together and enable conversation. Cafés are also excellent activity magnets, or convergent zones; the aroma and allure of food is always a strong social attraction. Another means to draw people together with ease is the use of standing height seating in social areas. Standing height tables allow people passing by to join a conversation, or drop out, without hindering the flow. To increase innovation in these areas, white board partitions are also handy for expressing impromptu inspiration. More and more innovative companies are learning that people do “real work” in these social settings as well as, if not better than, the rigid zoning of activities and time that has been the standard (Becker, 1995, p. 79). In conducting research for this project, a case study was conducted on Steelcase’s WorkCafé at their headquarters in Michigan. One intent of the project was to integrate food and work through a “palette of place and posture” (Wilk, 2012). They provided a wide variety of seating postures and choices of proximity, with quiet areas looking onto gardens, and a standing height bar with an electronic information monitor. This is an example of a successful activity magnet in the heart of an organization that takes worker wellbeing seriously. While collaboration and social activities are important for innovation, divergent work is equally important. Gensler found that when “focus is compromised in pursuit of collaboration, neither works well” (Gensler, 2013). The divergent worker needs space to focus without distraction, and then the ability to transition back easily toward convergent activity as needed. To diverge implies some distance, and sometimes that includes a boundary. The boundary can be physical, sensory, or both. 77% of employees prefer having quiet to focus (Gensler, 2013, p. 10). Boundaries can assist in managing sensory overload and distractions, and maintaining a sense of distance even in close proximity (Bernhard, 2013).


Figure 7 Distraction

Creating a distraction-free space for focus work is possible in a variety of ways. Obviously, blocking sound with walls and doors can be effective, and sound absorption is another solution, with acoustical ceilings being the most successful (Whitson, 2013). Sound can also be absorbed using panels, floor coverings, baffles, plants, and canopies. A third option is to mask sounds by increasing background noise. According to studies by Steelcase, the most disruptive type of distraction is background conversation (Moses, 2013). Moses says one theory is that your brain is trying to follow the conversation, which is especially distracting if it’s just half of a phone conversation (2013).


A metric for measuring speech privacy is called the Privacy Index which is best when considered early in the design process (Whitson, 2013, p. 5). Many architects leave out acoustical consideration when designing, and the result has led to a decline in the ability to focus, and therefore productivity (Treasure, 2012). While space for uninterrupted focus work can allow the brain to filter information more productively, quiet spaces need not always be for work. Reflective spaces can allow the brain to re-charge after intense focus. There have been numerous studies showing that humans function better when exposed to natural light and views of nature (Becker, 1995). After long hours of staring at a computer screen, there is also the benefit of relaxing the gaze, or regaining a sense of connection with the weather and one’s surroundings. A wide variety of people and processes presents an equally wide range of requirements. For example, there are introverts, extroverts, millennial workers, and baby boomers, each with different work styles and needs (Sasiki, 2013). Some workers will put on headphones to drown out noise, while for others “overhearing conversations leads to insight rather than annoyance, and they are fueled by collective energy� (Sasiki, 2013). Variety is also found in how people take in information. Based on two studies, researchers found a correlation between space preferences and the Sensing/Intuition (S/N) scale of the Myers-Briggs types (Herman Miller, 2007). Sensing individuals prefer taking in information through the senses and prefer an assigned desk, while intuitive individuals generally prefer to have community spaces available (Herman Miller, 2007). A study conducted by Gensler found that employees have higher performance and innovation ratings, as well as better job and workplace satisfaction, when employers provide a wider range of choices of when and where to work (Gensler, 2013). (See figure 8)


Figure 8 With Choice vs Without Choice (Gensler, 2013)

A relatively new aspect of choice in the workplace is emerging; what has come to be termed alternative work strategies (AWS). AWS refers to “allowing or even encouraging people to work anywhere they want” (Steelcase, 2012). One popular type of AWS is called Coworking: “coworking facilities are an alternative to working at home with an emphasis on creating community, usually for self-employed individuals and small start-ups” (Steelcase, 2012). Sociologist Ray Oldenburg defined these types of places as third places, as opposed to a first place (home) and second place (work). He characterized these as “destressing destinations providing a sense of ease and warmth” (Steelcase, 2012). During research for this project, two offices were studied, one in Suite 400 of the Bullitt Center, and one called Impact Hub Seattle. These were both found to be well-utilized, high-performance, collaborative spaces. The Bullitt Center has been constructed with 13’ high ceilings, 10’ operable windows, showers, and a bike garage. It has beautiful views, clean air, and composting toilets. The Impact Hub Seattle is a center for innovation, in renovated historic building. It has a relaxed feel, and is buzzing with entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses. Both offer a non-corporate feel and a wide mix of people with whom to collaborate. Both present excellent alternatives to working either in isolation, or in cramped, distracting offices.


This project is attempting to find solutions which will encompass a balance of convergent and divergent activity offering the choice of a variety of well-designed spaces. This can best be achieved through an understanding of people, what their needs are now, with an adaptable framework for the future. Solutions from even a few years ago are no longer relevant in today’s world. We are social beings and need to connect with one another, and be given opportunities to do so. Design can provide these opportunities in ways that are unobtrusive, lively, and fun. We need to converge and diverge, and we need the ability to choose when and where.

CASE STUDY 1 This case study is about the fourth floor Coworking offices in the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington. The Bullitt Center was designed by Miller Hull Partnership for the Bullitt Foundation, and is the world’s first commercial building designed to the standards of the Living Building Challenge. The Miller Hull Partnership led a design team handpicked by the Bullitt Foundation which includes: Point 32 development partner, Schuchart Corporation contractor, and PAE Consulting Engineers. It was completed in April, 2013, which is also when Point 32 moved into the space on the fourth floor. Point 32 runs the coworking office called Suite 400 Cowork.

Figure 9 Suite 400 Floor Plan (Bullitt Center)


Figure 10 Point 32 and Suite 400 Cowork Photo by Chris West

Figure 11 Entry - Social Space Photo by Chris West

Figure 12 Kitchen and Copy Room - Social Space - Photo by Chris West

This case study informed this project regarding the Coworking type of office, and how it was implemented in this building. The shell of this building is a remarkable work of commercial architecture. and could be a prototype for this type of high-performance building all around the world. However, the interior design was not included, for the most part, during the design phases. Two people were also interviwed during this study, Rob Pena and Joseph David, both of whom were involved in the construction of the building, and are also currently working in the building, one on the second floor and one on the fourth floor. Both discuss some of the improvements which might be made in the interior design as they notice some conditions of their offices after moving in. Some reasons for the current interior design choices were a lack of funds, combined with a highly restricted list of materials, called the Red-list, which must be adhered to within the Living Building Challenge guidleines. On top of the Living Building conditions, there are additional conditions set by the Bullitt Foundation, who is the client.


Suite 400 Cowork has a common lounge area, kitchen, men and women’s shower rooms, and lockers near the entry, which are the social spaces. The conference rooms and private meeting rooms can be reserved by members of the office. Each member has a private workstation and access to the common kitchen and social space. This is typical of many Coworking offices. Some of the restrictions are strict conditions set by the Bullitt Foundation. These have guided the space planning choices when using typical work stations, and material choices must be thoroughly vetted through a process of screening the manufacturer. According to Joseph David the main rules are these: 1. 2. 3. 4.

All primary workstations must be within a 30 foot radius of an operable window. Workstations may have a maximum of 48” partition heights so that all tenants have an unobstructed view of the window. The kitchen and copier rooms are to have separate ventilation, which makes it less feasible to run duct work to outer areas, and therefore they are kept in the center space. There is a red-list of 14 chemical groups, and as many as 360 separate chemicals, which are not allowed in the interior, including formaldehyde, a typical ingredient in many interior products, especially those in low-end finishes.

This Coworking office is following very conventional standards of office layout, as well as adhering to regulations which have to be met for the Living Building Challenge and the Bullitt Foundation. The air is clean, there is ample daylight, 13’ ceilings, and radiant heated and cooled floors. However, there are some bugs still to be ironed out, as the focus was about the zero energy performance of the building, and the interior was not well developed into the design. Acoustics was mentioned as being a significant problem, and with the majority of space being designated for single person focus work, the collaborative areas are all enclosed in glass rooms in the center, and the social areas are not very social when the sound levels have to be kept to a minumum. Plus the layout just doesn’t flow, and much of it is under-utilized, especially the front entrance, the kitchen and the one lounge area is directly in the middle between workstations. It may be more effective to put the main social area on the south side, along the side of the terrace, and extending onto the terrace in good weather. The kitchen could become a small café with a long bar. This would face the terrace, and be surrounded by seating groups, sofas, and small café style tables. Toward the green roof would be the focus areas, far away from the social area, with the collaborative space in the center. The sound levels could also be absorbed by ceiling treatments, and/or canopies which imply and define areas to gather without covering the beautiful wood ceilings. Some seating can be more enclosed with a semitransparent “shroud” for visual transparency and audible privacy.


The regulations imposed by the Bullitt Foundation appear to be limiting when using a typical workstation layout as they have. New research for office space is suggesting four types of spaces: focus, collaboration, social, and learning - with less space for designated workstations and more variety and choices of postures. If the overall flow of this office were rethought, it may be possible to reduce the amount of square foot needed per person, and to increase the overall usable space. This would increase the collaborative and social areas, which is, after all, the primary purpose of Coworking offices. In the current space plan, the designated workstations take up a huge amount of area along the windows due to the 30 foot radius stipulation. (Figure 13) Because the workstations line the perimeter of both sides, any sound from the central social areas carries and is distracting. They didn’t want to put in any ceiling tiles because of the beautiful wood ceilings, and they can’t obstruct the views with partitions at workstations. However, if focus work was combined into one area with acoustical boundaries it would allow for more lively collaboration in the convergent areas.


Current Floor Plan

Possible Floor Plan

Learning Space Focus Space

Garden Space

Collaborative Space Social Space

Figure 13 Diagram of Zones


CASE STUDY 2 This case study is about the Impact Hub Seattle at 220 Second Ave. South. It’s located in the historic Furuya aand Corgiat Buildings (renamed the Pacific Commercial Building), built in 1902 (Main2, 2010). It was originally constructed as a two-story substation, and built by Charles H. Baker. It also housed the M. Furuya Co., a Japanese import/export business. Three stories were added in 1905, the upper two stories were removed after an earthquake in 1949. The two upper stories have now been reconstructed. The reconstructed stories are clad in Glassfiber Reinforced Concrete molded from the original sandstone blocks. The project’s work was approved by the Pioneer Square Preservation Board and the National Park Service (Main2, 2010).

Figure 14 Center for Impact and Innovation

The Masin family bought the building in 1948, running a furniture store there until early 2007. The family sold the building to Rob Brewster, a local developer (Main2, 2010). An interview of Brian Howe, CEO of Hub Seattle, was conducted during this case study. Hub Seattle has formed a joint venture with the Bainbridge Graduate Institute and Social Venture Partners, and they are splitting the 30,000 square-foot building. The new space, according to Brian Howe, is one of the largest concentrations of social entrepreneurs in the country. This particular Coworking office was chosen to study how they balanced focused work with collaboration in this building. Hub Seattle has a reception desk immediately facing the front door. Behind the reception desk is a large stairway in the middle of a large open area, surrounded by windows. There are smaller lounge areas around the perimeter of this entrance. Hub Seattle takes up four floors of the building. They have basically divided the collaborative and focus space and housed them on two floors. The first floor is more collaborative and the second is for focus work. The third and fourth floors are classroom space.


The first floor functions as an event space, and transforms into a collaborative space when no events are occurring. There is a larger kitchen toward the back. The second floor has a daylight-filled mezzanine, with a few lounge areas and an open stairway from the ground floor to the top floor. Up a ramp from the mezzanine is the quiet area for focused work. This case study was written at a desk in this focus area in order to could experience the space. There are seven conference rooms and eight private meeting rooms on both the first and second floor, which can be rented by members. There are also smaller rooms called “phone rooms” which can be reserved for up to 90 minutes at no charge. The quiet space on the second floor is an open area, some desks have privacy panels, some are flat tables, and some are standing height desks. Each station has access to Wi-Fi, power, and some have monitors with adjustable arms. There is access to a smaller kitchen, rentable lockers, and 2 copier machines. This Coworking office is very busy and has a comfortable atmosphere. During the five hours of research time there, there was one incident of phone distraction. A worker at an adjacent desk received a phone call, and instead of leaving to a phone room or other area, he kept pacing back and forth from his desk to the stairway, talking the entire time, probably referring to a drawing he had open on his computer. To give some personaization to the members, there are monitors hung from the ceilings throughout the spaces that displayed photos and names of members with brief descriptions of their business. There is also a wall in the entrace with photos of every member. There could be room for improvement in the flow between collaboration and focus space, as they are on separate floors. Standing-height bars could be placed along the perimeter of the first floor instead random tables throughout. This would direct the flow of traffic to go between the standing height bars and grouping of tables in the center. When the host was asked if the kitchen downstairs was a juice bar, she said she wished it were, and that many people had expressed that same desire. A small café might be added instead of the existing kitchen counter with four stools. A good location could be in the back where everybody can gather, and most important, the people upstairs doing focus work would have to walk through the collaborative space to get to the café . This is to enable chance encounters between those who might not ordinarily meet, due to being on separate floors. Acoustics, again, have been completely overlooked. There is no ceiling absorbtion at all, and the floors upstairs are uncovered concrete. When speaking to Brian Howe, he mentioned that floor tiles are just thrown on the floors of the phone rooms, and carpeting is tacked to the walls. These are design elements which need to be factored into the design delevopment phase.


Figure 15 First Floor Diagram of Zones


Figure 16 Second Floor Diagram of Zones

Figure 18 First floor event/social space Photo by Chris West

Figure 17 First floor kitchen and bar Photo by Chris West

Figure 19 Phone booths Photo by Chris West

Figure 20 Reception/Social Zone Photo by Chris West


CASE STUDY 3 This case study is about the WORKCAFÉ located in the Steelcase headquarters at 901 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s one part of a three-year campus reinvention which opened in August, 2012. It was designed by Joey Shimoda and Susan Chang of the Shimoda Design Group to test “the concept of the nomadic employee,” he says, and turns the 1983 cafeteria into a multitasking Work Café (Wilk, 2012). The project is 20,000 square feet, and includes a 90-seat dining room, a living room, lounge, information bar, collaboration zone, meeting rooms with video conferencing and a variety of seating for more informal gatherings. There’s also a ‘library’ setting with a view of a Japanese garden and an outdoor terrace.

Figure 21 Work Café (Steelcase)


The research which led to the creation of the WorkCafé began when alternative work strategies were still a new trend. Alternative work strategies are defined as: allowing or even encouraging people to work anywhere they want (The New Third Place, 2013). Knowledge work can happen almost anywhere, and this is when more people started working at home or in third places, a term defined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg as: great places where people can gather and interact, in contrast to a first place (home) and second place (work) (2013). Because coffee shops were among the first public places with wireless, they naturally became trendy third places for work. Ray Oldenburg has identified some of the main characteristics of a great third place. These include being a neutral ground where the main activity is conversation, easy access, a low profile, and that it needs to be playful (2013). “Technology and place has become a tool to support the evolution of culture and work,” believes Dave Lathrop, director of research and strategy at Steelcase. “Let’s make it the place that people choose to go when they have the choice to be anywhere” (Bernard, 2012). In order to bring people together within the Coworking environment, there needs to be a common activity. Eating is a natural social interest and need. Steelcase’s Work Café is the conception of the newest research being implemented it into their own space. One intent of the project was to integrate food and work through a “palette of place and posture” (Wilk, 2012). They provided a wide variety of seating postures and choices of proximities, ample diversity of seating configurations and degrees of intimacy, from lounges ideal for informal meetings to bar-height counters which provide a spot to grab a quick coffee and answer emails. Thanks to advances in the social sciences as well as the influence of design thinking, more knowledge is available than ever before about how to “incubate innovation.” Research is providing a new set of requirements for companies that want to be competitive. Nearly everyone agrees that innovation is the way to supercharge an organization and that collaboration is the key to innovative thinking. Work space can support collaboration, and therefore, can facilitate innovation. To boost collaboration, space needs to be flexible, support worker wellbeing, and it needs to be social (Wilk, 2012). Open and relaxed areas for informal conversations are critical components for successful innovation spaces. Providing convenient access to food and beverages, in close proximity to work, is a huge part of this.


Figure 22 A cafeteria with an office program

Figure 23 The “global wall� and bar is an opportunity to meet.

Figure 25 Reflective space with a view


Figure 24 Grand stairway

The Steelcase Work Café is highly successful in every aspect of creating space to collaborate. It’s based on years of research, and designed by people who wanted to create places for people to have maximum choice. It has a wide variety of seating, from community lounges to space for quiet and privacy. There is the right blend of technology, access to information, and views of nature. Taking this all into account, this could be an important element to as an activity magnet in a Coworking space. Even a small-scale café would be helpful to draw people together. Quality coffee, tea, salads, sandwiches, and a juice bar would provide enough nourishment to keep busy people energized, and could be open to the public. It’s always nice to have a quick snack available, and a place to meet someone, without going too far away. Moving from a desk to another location nearby, for both meeting and eating, provides a break, a new perspective, and one more way to have a chance encounter that could lead to anything.

Figure 26 Areas of combined space (Steelcase)


DESIGN PROPOSAL Vehicle: The vehicle for this project is a Coworking office space. Coworking is defined as: “workspace with flexible structures that is designed for and by people with atypical, new types of work - that is not exclusively for people from one certain company” (Pohler, 2011). The word Coworking, as it is known today, is based on a concept developed by Brad Neuberg in 2005. Coworking is a proper noun based on Neuberg’s concept which has evolved into a decentralized movement around a core set of values: “Community, Openness, Collaboration, Accessibility, and Sustainability” (, 2006). Spaces at these types of workplaces are usually rented through a monthly membership. Both individuals and small companies seek the savings and flexibility of a short-term lease. Another benefit is sharing the cost of a high-performance space that is utilized the majority of the time. If each individual produced this for themselves, it would cost considerably more, and be utilized much less (Steelcase, 2012). The meaning of Coworking is directly related to the intent of convergence and divergence, in that workers have divergent activities away from a traditional office, yet also want interaction with people. In a Coworking environment, the goal is to create a unique “sense of place” that is both social and work-related, provides space for collaborative and focus work, has areas for reflection and inspiration, and encourages the serendipitous encounter.


PROGRAM Objectives: • To provide a balance of space for both focused and collaborative work, including a casual lounge area and cafe for socializing, and a quiet area for study or meditation. • The social and collaborative space needs to be far enough away from the focus and study space so as not to distract concentration. • The collaborative space needs to be close enough to allow ease of transition from focus work to collaboration. • There needs to be a variety of seating to allow for movement and different body postures, and to accommodate small to large groups of people. • Acoustics and privacy must be considered. • It should be comfortable with an atmosphere which expressed the goals and culture of the workers. Requirements: • AVG 100 people – Minimum 7,000 sf of space. • Reception area - 200 sf • A large flexible event space – 11 sf per person (can be part of the collaborative space) 1100 sf • Several conference rooms for up to 20 people. 15 sf per person (300 x 3) 900 sf • A large open area for collaboration in close proximity to focus work area. 2000 sf Larger tables, media capabilities, white boards. 20 sf per person • Another large area for quiet focus work with varied desks, optional heights, and seating. 175-200 sf per person 2000 sf • Up to four small enclosed rooms (phone booth) for private conversations. 800 sf • Small library 200 sf • Integrated technology, Wi-Fi, and power sources. • Daylight and views. • Showers and ADA restrooms (50 sf per bathroom) 200 sf • Copier, printer and projector 100 sf • Lockers and indoor bike parking 200 sf ___________________________________________________________________ Sub Total 6600 SF • Café juice bar. (15 sq. ft. per person) 1500 sf. • Kitchen 400 sf _________________________________________________________________________ 1900 sf TOTAL 8500 SF


SITE The Bullitt Center 1501 E. Madison St. Opened on April 22, Earth Day, 2013 Owner: Bullitt Foundation Architect: The Miller Hull Partnership Contractor: Schuchart Corporation Attributes of Bullitt Center: • 83 percent more energy efficient and 80 percent more water efficient than typical office buildings in Seattle • Ground-source “geoexchange” system providing heating and cooling energy to an in-floor radiant system • Sophisticated rainwater filtering system expected to meet all the building’s water needs • Composting system that keeps human waste out of Seattle’s sewers • Super-insulated curtain walls that minimize undesired air and energy leakage • Automated building management system that controls numerous functions and monitors the building’s performance Site Requirements: • Minimum 7,000 sf of space. • A large open area • Ample daylight and views. • Sustainable construction • Thriving, diverse, urban neighborhood with a blend of both commercial and residential buildings • A good walk, transit, and bike rating • Access to outdoor space for optional outside seating Attributes of Suite 300 – All Requirements Met • Full floor, approximately 7,949 SF • Expansive open floor plate with exposed heavy timber, 13’-0” ceilings • 4’ x 10’ operable windows throughout overlooking McGilvra Place Park and the Center’s green roof • In the Madison-Miller neighborhood which is largely residential • Walk Score of 98/100, dedicated bicycle parking garage • Exclusive access to a 753 square foot south-facing private outdoor terrace


Figure 27 Photo of Bullitt Center


SITE ANALYSIS Base Zone Code: Neighborhood Commercial 3-65 (NC3-65) Larger shopping areas that serve the surrounding residential neighborhood as well as regional or citywide customers, such as larger grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, and clothing stores. Building types are singlepurpose commercial structures, multi-story mixed use, and residential structures. Non-residential uses typically occupy the street front. There are no size limits for most uses; wholesale, light manufacturing, and warehouses are limited to 25,000 square feet for most commercial uses. Height is limited to 65 feet. There is a pilot project that will allow up to 12 unique “living buildings” to be developed in Seattle. Seattle’s land use code didn’t allow for the unique characteristics required to meet living building standards, so the City Council gave the Department of Planning & Development the authority to grant developers the flexibility they needed to meet project requirements. The Living Building Ordinance, C.B. 116740 AN ORDINANCE establishing a Living Building Pilot Program, amending Sections 23.41.004, 23.41.012, 23.41.014, 23.86.006, and 23.90.018, and adding a new Section 23.40.060 to the Seattle Municipal Code to implement the Pilot Program. Date passed by Full Council: December 14, 2009 Vote: 9-0 Date filed with the City Clerk: December 22, 2009 Date of Mayor’s signature: December 21, 2009 (Bullitt Foundation, 2009)


Figure 28 McGilvra Place Park is where E. Pike and E. Madison converge.


Figure 29 Floor Plan





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Figure 30 Section N-S

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Figure 31 Building Attributes (Source of graphic: Bullitt Foundation; PAE Engineering; Miller Hull)

Figure 32 Aerial View Bullitt Center and McGilvra Place Park Photo:


Figure 33 Photos from site visit by Chris West


main entrance focus elevator stairs

Figure 34 Natural Light

collaborate learn


Figure 35 Circulation

Figure 36 Modes Flow

Figure 38 Orientation

Figure 39 Modes/Nodes/Flow


Figure 37 Parti


DESIGN GOALS ISSUE: Putting focus workstations throughout entire space restricts the ability to gather near windows, or collaborate. GOAL: Separate designated workstation from social area

ISSUE: Space needs to provide access to people and technology not available elsewhere GOAL: Create a high-performance collaborative space

ISSUE: Work and innovation happen in chance encounters

GOAL: Create opportunities for informal communication

ISSUE: Space needs to have the comforts of home only better.

GOAL: Create a sense of ease and warmth


ISSUE: Need a large event space that does not distract the focus work

GOAL: Boundaries between focus and event space

ISSUE: Wellness encourages movement

GOAL: Create space to move and change postures

ISSUE: Find ways for people to intermingle

GOAL: Activity Generators - CafĂŠ, copy & print room, media room, varied seating inside and out. ISSUE: Different people have various needs

GOAL: Provide a wide variety of seating and proximity options for introverts, extroverts, etc.



DRIVERS OF BALANCE Proximity + Availability of Alternative Spaces



53% of employees are disturbed by others when trying to focus

42% use makeshift solutions to block out distractions in the workplace


Transition is the flow between focus work and collaboration, public and private spaces.


Collaboration requires the convergence of people, which involves proximity. The intent in a Coworking environment is to have people from different disciplines share space to foster informal communication.


The flip side of collaborative work, and of equal importance, is heads down, individual, focus work. Boundaries shape convergent and divergent flow of space and decrease distraction.


We travel through space from one place to another to join people, or to get away. When we diverge, there is distance, with varied directionality and pathways.

Focus -Members


To and From Focus

Collaborate Members Nonmembers

Collaborate Members


Public and Members

To and From Public


Figure 40 Floor Plan


Figure 41 Isometric


Figure 42 West Section

Figure 43 South Section

Recycled solar panels wrapped in felt - Acoustic Array


Media:scape by Steelcase

Pintura™ color sheet glass with no-VOC glass coating. White back-painted glass for expressing impromptu inspiration.


1. The main entrance opens from a glass- enclosed stairwell with a panoramic view and stairs made of Douglas fir.

Chemetal Aluminum Laminate

2. Upon entry, the glass wall to the right, and the angled desk to the left, as well as a well-lit living wall directly ahead, give visual cues to travel down the hall toward The Zone . Members check in on the computer at the desk.

Sapphire Ceiling Lamp by Zuo Era

Reclaimed wood flooring

DORMA Interior Glass Wall Systems



1. Non-members may sit in the media room, the outside terrace. or the cafe.

Living Wall in concrete frame

2. Performance is shown to increase by chance encounters with diverse people. 3. Living walls absorb sound and keep the air clean, as well as bringing a natural element inside during gray Seattle weather.

Loop ModularSofa Vollen Bench by CHADHAUS


Dizzie table series from Arper


1. Standing-height seating is equalizing and inclusive.

Saya Bar stool

2. Alternative work strategies are defined as: allowing or even encouraging people to work anywhere they want. 3. Moving from a desk to a nearby location, for meeting or coffee, provides a break, a new perspective, and opportunity for informal communication.

Leaf sled lounge on terrace

Leaf tables on terrace



1. High tech meets down-toearth. Media:scape by Steelcase allows all users to share and collaborate. 2. Touch down areas allow people to mingle and write on white boards outside of more formal meetings. 3. This space provides a blend of technology, views of nature, and a sense of ease and warmth.


Lytespan Solid State LED Lighting

Saari sofa from Arper Ply tables from Arper

Catifa 70 Lounge Sled


1. Different postures throughout the day keep people focused and more engaged.

Felt Wall Panels by Filzfelt

2. Books have been shown to be a visual cue to be more quiet. 3. Without divergent types of activity, innovation suffers. People also need space to reflect.

Pix poufs from Arper

Ginger table series from Arper



1. Felt acoustic panels with perforations allow some light and visual access, while still absorbing sound. 2. Adjustable-height desks provide choice in either standing or sitting through the day. 3. Carpet and wood flooring add to acoustic absorbtion.

Filzfelt Acoustic Panels

Tyde Adjustable Height Desks from Vitra Think by Steelcase


Alcove Sofa from Vitra

GLOSSARY Alternative work strategies (AWS): allowing or even encouraging people to work anywhere they want Boundary: the line or plane indicating the limit or extent of something, or a point or limit that indicates where two things become different Commingling: to join or mix together Convergence: the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity, coming together, merging, commingling, or intersecting Coworking: workspace with flexible structures that is designed for and by people with atypical, new types of work - that is not exclusively for people from one certain company Divergence: a drawing apart (as of lines extending from a common center), developing in a different direction, separating, or distancing Proximity: the state of being near Transition: passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another


BIBLIOGRAPHY LA Eyeworks. (2002). Retrieved from NMDA : (2006, Feb). Retrieved from (2013, Oct 10). Retrieved from The New Third Place. (2013). 360 Magazine, p. Issue 63. Retrieved from Steelcase 360 Magazine: http://360. Anyone Corporation. (1996). Anywise. Cambridge: MIT Press. Becker, F. a. (1995). Workplace by Design Mapping the High-Performance Workplace. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass Publishers. Bernard, M. (2012, May 29). Steelcase. Retrieved from Contract: design/features/Steelcase-7241.shtml Bernhard, T. (2013, Feb 28). Turning Straw Into Gold. Retrieved from Psychology Today: http://www. Brown, T. (2013, Nov 19). 4 Bio-Inspired Tips to Create Better Teams. Retrieved from Design Thinking thoughts by Tim Brown: Bullitt Foundation. (2009). COUNCIL APPROVES LIVING BUILDING PILOT. Retrieved from Bullitt Foundation: code-2028new-standards-for-livability-sustainability-and-affordability-in-seattle-neighborhoods Chase, J. L. (2006). LA 2000+ New Architecture in Los Angeles. New York: Monacelli Press. Cheek, L. W. (2012, Mar 17). In New Office Designs, Room to Roam and to Think. Retrieved from New York times: and-to-think.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&ref=business Cherry, K. (2013). Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization. Retrieved from Psychology: http:// Cohen, E. (2003, Mar 1). Look Out! . Retrieved from Interior Design Magazine: article/474400-Look_out_.php


Comeau, C. (2013). co-creating innovative solutions to complex challenges. Collaborative Transformation, Denari, N. (1999). Gyroscopic Horizons. New york: Princeton Architectural Press. Franck, K. A., & Lepori, R. B. (2000). Architecture Inside Out. West Sussex: Wiley-Academy. Gensler. (2013). 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey/ Key Findings. Gensler. Giovannini, J. (2005, Sep). Endeavor Talent Agency. Retrieved from Architectural Record: http://archrecord. Griffin, K. (2013, Oct 25). Interview with Kelly Griffin, Architect. (C. West, Interviewer) Groves, K. (2012). I Wish I Worked There! West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Herman Miller. (2007). Set Them Free. Herman Miller. Retrieved from Herman Miller. Howard, S. (2009, Mar). Alley 24. Retrieved from Green Source Construction: http://greensource. Lynn, G. (1998). Folds, Bodies & Blobs Collected Essays. Bruxelles: Books-by-Architects. Macaulay, D. (2008). integrated design. Bainbridge Island: Ecotone Publishing. Main2. (2010, jan 8). Evolution of a Building in Pioneer Square: The Furuya Building. Retrieved from Main2: Montagu, A. (1986). Touching. New York: Harper & Row. Moody, F. (2009, Jan). Alley 24. Retrieved from Metropolis Magazine: January-2009/Alley-24/ Moses, E. (2013, Oct 21). Interview with Emily Moses of Steelcase. (C. West, Interviewer) NBBJ. (2013). Interior Design. Retrieved from NBBJ: Neil M. Denari Architects, Inc. (n.d.). Endeavor Talent Agency. Retrieved from Architype Review: http://www.


Pallasmaa, J. (2012). The Eyes of the Skin. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. . Pohler, N. (2011, Aug 22). Coworking 101: A new definition. Retrieved from Deskmag: http://www.deskmag. com/en/coworking-spaces-101-a-new-definition Sasiki. (2013, jan 28). Quiet and Noise: HOW DESIGN CAN ENHANCE THE WAY WE WORK. Retrieved from Sasaki: Schulman, R. P. (2004). Portraits of the New Architecture. New York: Assouline Publishing, Inc. Spiller, N. (2006). Visionary Architecture. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, London. Steelcase. (2012, Feb). The New Third Place. Retrieved from 360 Steelcase: articles/the-new-third-place/ Steelcase. (2012, Feb). The Next Office: Why CEO’s are paying Attention. Retrieved from 360: http://360. Steelcase. (2013). How Place Fosters Innovation Whitepaper. Retrieved from 360 Steelcase: http://360. Strombom, D., & Govaars, S. (2013). Fracking The Workplace: Optimizing Human Potential Through Workplace Design by Gensler Houston. Houston: Gensler. Treasure, J. (2012, Sep). Julian Treasure: Why architects need to use their ears. (J. Treasure, Performer) TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved from TED : need_to_use_their_ears.html Van der Ryn, S. (2013). Design for an Empathic World. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. White, M. C. (2013, Oct 8). Start-Up Chic Goes Corporate, as Couches Replace Desks. Retrieved from NY Times: as-couches-replace-desks.html?_r=1& Whitson, A. (2013, Oct 28). The Workplace: Is it Getting Worse? Part 2. Retrieved from Green to Gold Officeinsight:


Wilk, D. (2012, Feb 1). EAT, WORK, LOVE: STEELCASE’S CAFETERIA BY JOEY SHIMODA. Retrieved from Interior Design:

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Diagram of Proximity 3 Figure 2 Diagram of Boundary 4 Figure 3 Diagram of Transition 5 Figure 4 Convergent = Collaborate//Socialize 6 Figure 5 Convergent and Divergent Thinking 7 Figure 6 Convergent Thinking 8 Figure 7 Distraction 11 Figure 8 With Choice vs. Without Choice 13 Figure 9 Suite 400 Floor Plan 14 Figure 10 Point 32 15 Figure 11 Entry 15 Figure 12 Kitchen and Copy Room 15 Figure 13 Diagram of Zones 18 Figure 14 Center for Impact and Innovation 19 Figure 15 First Floor 21 Figure 16 Second Floor 21 Figure 17 First Floor Kitchen and Bar 22 Figure 18 Event Social Space 22 Figure 19 Phone Booths 22 Figure 20 Reception Social Space 22 Figure 21 Work Café 23 Figure 22 Cafeteria with an Office Program 25 Figure 23 “Global Wall” 25 Figure 24 Grand Stairway 25 Figure 25 Reflective Space 25 Figure 26 Areas of combined space 26 Figure 27 Bullitt Center 30 Figure 28 McGilvra Place Park is where E. Pike and E. Madison converge 32 Figure 29 Floor Plan Level 3 33 Figure 30 Section N-S 34 Figure 31 Building Attributes 35 Figure 32 Aerial View 36 Figure 33 Photos of Site 37 Figure 34 Natural Light 38 Figure 35 Circulation 38 Figure 36 Modes Flow 38 Figure 37 Parti. 38 Figure 38 Orientation 38 Figure 39 Modes//Nodes//Flow 38


Figure 40 Floor Plan 43 Figure 41 Isometric 44 Figure 42 West Section 45 Figure 43 South Section 45 Figure 44 Arrive 46 Figure 45 Receive 47 Figure 46 Mingle 48 Figure 47 Converge 49 Figure 48 Learn 50 Figure 49 Focus 51


Converge: A Coworking Café  

Office + Café + Living Room

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