United State

A Dynamic and Open Workspace

San Francisco’s Richard Pollack & Associates creates a dynamic, open workspace for an expanding Bay Area business.

“THIS PROJECT INVOLVED several leaps of faith,” says designer Gary Nichols, a senior associate at Richard Pollack & Associates (RPA) who managed the renovation of headquarters for the Hamel Group, “employment marketing strategists” serving the biotech industry. For starters, recalls Nichols, the company committed to not only a largely unexplored area of Oakland’s old shipyards but also an unconventional industrial space in 1998–“before every dot.com had its office in a former warehouse.” As one of the Bay Area’s fastest growing companies, the Hamel Group required an office that could accommodate its expanding workforce and serve as a serious recruitment tool. In addition, the company sought a bold, progressive design that would appeal to its biotech clientele as well as Hamel’s young staff. RPA worked closely with CEO Pamela Hamel and CFO Mike Pauletich to devise an environment that fosters creativity and efficiency, while also providing comfort and influencing employee retention.

 

Open workspace design
Open workspace design

Among the project’s greatest challenges was the conversion of adjacent spaces in two separate, but conjoined buildings into one unified, open office. “The main programmatic objective was to create a whole,” says Nichols. The spaces were gutted and all walls were removed, except for the shear wall between the two buildings. Stripped down to its bricks, the wall was opened in two places to unify the spaces. “A small doorway had been cut into the wall to allow passage from one side to the other,” explains Nichols. “But we created large, ceiling-height openings to open the spaces to one another.” The plan is organized around a central public core with offices and work stations located around the perimeter. A curved boat-shaped form, which intersects the shear wall and arcs up to the ceiling, anchors the newly (used, 7,000-sq.-ft. office.

 

Reception area of the open workspace
Reception area of the open workspace

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Home Sweet Home; Interiors writer and stylist Heather Nette King opens the doors to her cosy, colourful and creative cottage

Open-home Inspections for century-old, character-filled house

After months of dragging a toddler and a baby in and out of the car at open-home inspections, Heather Nette King and her husband Jeremy were fed up of house hunting and almost didn’t bother to take a look inside this old weatherboarder in Armadale, Vic. But luckily they did, because the century-old, character-filled house was exactly what the couple had been dreaming of high ceilings with intricate plaster cornices, a wide entrance hall, big bedrooms and a deep bullnose verandah. “But best of all, it had only been moderately renovated – it was totally liveable, but still retained its romance and charm,” Heather says. Within five minutes of viewing the house the couple had negotiated with the agent and secured it as their new family home.

century-old, character-filled house-small
century-old, character-filled house-small

Preparing for Decorating Rooms

The rooms were quickly prepared for decorating. First, the musty carpets were removed and the original Baltic floorboards were sanded and polished. The couple then painted the yellowed walls and woodwork in white. “I even painted the pine kitchen joinery white including the glass in the doors,” Heather says, “It creates a clean, fresh backdrop for displaying my beautiful dining table / chair set and colourful kitchenware.” Heather’s passion for a paintbrush has become a bit of a running joke, as she loves to repaint the kitchen floor a different colour every few months.

Colourful kitchenwares are already to be used to decorate the kitchen
Colourful kitchenwares are already to be used to decorate the kitchen

When it comes to decorating an interior, Heather adopts the simple philosophy that “if it makes your heart sing, then do it”. She loves pieces with history and character, “and if they are a bit banged up, I love them even more,” she says. “I also like to paint wooden furniture such as my elegant tables and recliners in the living room – it’s such a simple way to cohesively tie together different styles and eras. And, whenever you feel like a change, it’s just another coat of paint to completely alter the look.”

Decorating the House by a Stylist

Working as a stylist, Heather sees trends quickly come and go, so she is wary of buying into too many fads. “I love to come up with creative alternatives when a certain look really inspires me.” Her bedroom wall is the perfect example for months she had been coveting a Cath Kidston digital print wallpaper featuring roses, but knowing that just one wall would cost about $1500, she decided to road test the idea by sticking pages from a pictorial rose book onto the wall. Total cost? About $20 for the books and $30 postage from Amazon. “I love it so much I may just keep it the way it is,” she says.

Decorating inside the house by a Stylist
Decorating inside the house by a Stylist

Heather and Jeremy now have plans to build a conservatory-style room off the lounge with comfortable reclining chairs and tables, to overlook the family’s new swimming pool. “It will have white weatherboards, and maybe a little clerestory [high] window for ventilation,” Heather says. “And, of course, lots of lovely banged-up furniture and wild roses clambering all over it.”