We're Opening Our Doors for OHNY

Come see us at our Manhattan office on Saturday, October 9th between the hours of 10 am to 5 pm, when we’ll be opening our doors as part of the openhousenewyork weekend. Designers, architects, proposal writers, and principals of our firm will be giving tours and talks every half-hour. We’re at 39 West 13th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues – look for the orange door.

To download a full brochure of all of openhousenewyork’s many splendid events, go here.

Miami Experience

Last weekend, I was invited by Floor Focus magazine to attend an awards celebration in South Beach, Florida. Sponsoring the event were Bentley Prince Street, Centiva, Crossville Tile, Floor Focus, and Johnsonite. The magazine honored four design firms for dynamic integration of flooring within the overall design of a space. Mancini Duffy received the Grand Prize for our design of new offices for the law firm Fitzpatrick Cella Harper and Scinto, in Manhattan. A brief interview that followed the event can be heard here.

While in South Beach, I enjoyed a walking tour of the Art Deco District, focusing on the Ocean Drive properties located south of 15th Street. Art Deco made its debut in 1925 at an exposition in Paris, creating a new design vocabulary based on early neoclassical styles with the application of bas-relief motifs including flora, fauna, and strong geometric patterns. From the 1930's until the 1970's, the neighborhood was primarily home to many retirees, as well as a mix of transients, and the buildings fell into a severe state of disrepair. It wasn't until 1979, when the neighborhood was under threat of being razed to make way for new high-rise construction, that the buildings were recognized for their significance within the urban fabric of South Beach. It was at that time that preservationists first added subdued tones of color to pronounce the clean lines and finely crafted details of the Deco style. See images below.

A few blocks away, in sharp architectural contrast, I also visited Herzog and de Meuron's recently opened car park at 1111 Lincoln Road. The seven-story structure features varying slab-to-slab heights and an elegantly sweeping ramp which spirals upward, revealing spectacular views of Miami. The evolution of parking structure as pedestrian destination creates an interesting and utterly unique mix of form and function. The structure itself is quietly poetic in details, including knife-edge slab cuts and complex folding stairways, which further create a sense of theatre and discovery as you experience the building. The lasting impression is one of refinement; by eliminating any exterior curtain wall system, the building appears to be very light and airy. See images below.

AIA New York Chapter: Architects Fast Track Leadership Series

As the first in the eight-session Architects Fast Track Leadership Series running once a month at the Center for Architecture, AIA New York Chapter President and Mancini•Duffy Chairman Anthony P. Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA, will be giving a session on Financial Management on Wednesday, September 22nd, from 8:00 - 10:00 AM. As stated by the AIA New York Chapter, the intended audiences are interns and mid-career associates who are motivated toward developing their firm management skills. Go to this link for more information, such as costs.

The New Space Metric: “Space Utilization”

Image courtesy of kevinzhengli.

The current economic turmoil has forced organizations to re-evaluate their second most significant operating expense: their real-estate footprint. In an effort to build leaner and more agile portfolios that respond quickly and efficiently to unpredictable changes, more and more organizations are adopting or exploring strategies like consolidation, densification, and flexible/alternative ways of working. The parameters for workplace efficiency and capacity, therefore, have changed. No longer is the critical space metric the number of square feet or square feet per person, it is now space utilization or occupancy rate.

Space utilization or occupancy rate is defined as the percent of time space is occupied. The effort now is not to minimize space per person, but to achieve 100% space utilization. In view of the new workplace strategies being adopted, measuring space utilization is not only considered imperative to building a business case for implementing these strategies, but also seen as an important tool to assess and allocate space where and how it is needed. There is also a need to not view this as a one-time study, but as an ongoing effort to track real-time data in order to re-balance space across teams and functions, since business needs and processes are now more volatile than ever.

There is a huge gap between perceived space utilization and actual utilization. In a webinar entitled “Getting Strategic about Space Management” presented on July 15th by Phil Wee, Manager, Occupancy Planning, and Curtis Knapp, Global Director of Occupancy Planning for Jones Lang LaSalle, it was stated that JLL identifies an average of 26% more vacancy than initially reported by their clients. Per Maureen Moody in her article “Mastering All You Survey” in the June 2010 issue of FM World, Cerys Jones, Director at Cochrane McGregor, a UK-based workplace consulting firm, and Bernard Crouch of Gunnersbury-Consult report that the perception of space utilization might be 60%, but surveys could show as little as 28%. This translates into a large potential for gaining efficiencies.

A number of data collection technologies are out there in the market today and, depending upon the level and type of detail of the information required, the right technology can be easily selected. The technologies can be broadly categorized into four types, in order of the detailed information provided: video-based, sensor-based, observation surveys, and in-place reservation/checking-in systems.

All technologies come with built-in reporting, which might reveal statistics on occupancy by rooms, departments, floors, traffic in specific areas or between certain groups/teams, maximum usage showing patterns, and actual usage vs. reservations. Video-based and sensor-based technologies are able to record intensive data over a larger period of time and are very accurate, but might have a “big brother” feel to them, as well as being expensive solutions. Human observation methodology is still the most popular, since it is the easiest and cheapest, but organizations are increasingly choosing to use more sophisticated technology to get exhaustive data.

Irrespective of the technology selected, organizations are realizing that tracking space utilization gives the real picture of how space is being used, which in turn helps inform better workplace decisions and can also result in huge cost savings.