March 18, 2021

Shared Spaces in the Office

 by O'Brien Architects

You’ll see a lot of spaces that are going to be a little bit more open and less dense. We think that’s a response to what’s happening right now. You’re going to see a lot of programmed outdoor areas, and internally probably. We think that’s probably going to be just something that’s going to be required in the future.

We’re in webinars constantly about people and how they interact with each other. And we think there are some interesting conversations going on about separating people and different traffic paths and things like that. The realistic nature is that people want to be around people, and we thrive being next to each other and interacting with each other. So we think companies will need to determine how to marry the separation of employees versus the interaction needed to do great work.

We foresee businesses designing their internal spaces similarly but we’ll start to see more common areas that are a little bit larger, some of these multi-tenant buildings could actually have these spaces as an amenity. So you’ll have maybe a big lounge area or a big outdoor covered area that you could go out and spread out. We think you’ll just see a lot of larger common outdoor spaces.

What are some of the design considerations with outdoor spaces?

Obviously, you’ve got to deal with elements like air conditioning and all of the logistical issues that you run into. How do you achieve the same type of lighting in the sun that you would interior? And, how do you deal with the heat factors and things like that? But we think as far as making the outdoor working spaces comfortable, aside from some of the summer weeks, in Dallas this is possible.

For us at O’Brien, a lot of the time, we look at our designs, and we like to think of our buildings as a backdrop for these outdoor spaces that are created. And so whether it be an outdoor plaza or some seating area, or a shaded structure, those structures help define the outdoor spaces and landscape. So we collaborate a lot with landscape designers and environmental designers to build meaningful outdoor spaces that will be enjoyed by employees for years to come.

What are some of the necessary elements of creating a fluid indoor-outdoor workspace?

We recently worked on a multi-family project with our multi-family team. We started working on the amenity spaces and how they flow out into the common areas. We have this great-looking Paseo and pool area and lounge. So we’ve started to work with the landscape architect, and they’re interested in what we’re doing and how we can marry the inside with the outdoors. We’re finding that the right lighting and fabrics working together on the interior and exterior create a cohesive space for employees that feels natural whether working indoors or out.

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