Jumping trends, balancing work styles, and understanding always evolving needs: office architects are always looking for the connection between workplace design and employee productivity. Today’s corporate landscape is about making the workplace a functional, productive, yet healthy environment for employees. It’s a landscape where CEOs of Fortune 500s and startups alike have accepted that in order to boost results, they must realign work environments that encourage today’s generation to maximize their potential regardless of globalization, urbanization, and the distracting pleasures of Silicon Valley. That challenge exists whether a company works out of Manhattan or Charlotte, North Carolina, as the companies described here do. Each of these office architects understands that challenge and are well-equipped to respond to it. And rather than using a universal office design template, they carefully researched a client’s workforce to create a design tailored-fit to what works and what doesn’t. The results? Practical solutions to workplace realities and office interiors beyond compare.
John Watson, AIA
Robert Lauer, AIA
Jim Powell, AIA
Address: 2815 Six Coliseum Centre Drive, Suite 500, Charlotte, NC 28217
“Everything we do is inspired by our belief that spaces shape our lives.” This quote from ADW Architects’ website sums up the firm’s belief that its passion for innovative design solutions explains its 40 years of success. Since founding in 1977, the Charlotte-based firm has been honored with more than 25 design awards. It has also been busy perfecting its interior design, architectural, and master planning projects nationwide. The firm’s portfolio is diversified; it has developed expertise in LEED-certified public safety, civic, educational, entertainment, mixed-use, and faith-based projects — just to name a few. Managing Principals John Watson, Robert Lauer, and Jim Powell focus on creating sustainable designs and are active members of the US Green Building Council.
The Coca-Cola Bottling Company and the University of North Carolina are just a few of its notable clientele.
Best Impressions Caterers had 11,000-square-feet of office and catering kitchen space that needed interior work. ADW designed offices, tasting rooms, a large double catering kitchen, and a warehouse for the company’s Charlotte location. Another project includes the Coca-Cola Bottling Company’s 8,040-square-foot office space on West Morehead Street in Charlotte that needed a major overhaul. The structure which was built in 1929 has become a part of the National Register of Historic Places and has only received minor upgrades since its founding. ADW designed an executive floor with a board room, an amphitheater-style auditorium with the main wall decoration displaying silhouettes of the company’s signature soda bottle, a video conference area, offices lining the perimeter, and a multi-purpose meeting room. The project aroused the interest of Westside business types and received the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Enhancement Award for Historic Preservation.
ai Design Group
Wes Jones, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
Kim Marks, AIA, NCARB
John Weller, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB
Ryan Doherty, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
Address: 330 South Tryon Street, Suite 500, Charlotte, NC 28202
Wes Jones, Kim Marks, and John Weller combined six decades of experience to establish ai Design Group in 2003. Although it is based in Charlotte, the company works nationwide for an impressive list of Fortune 500 companies and national concerns, such as Sonic Automotive, Spectrum Properties, AAA, and Speedway Motorsports. Today, it is recognized as one of the largest architectural firms in North Carolina. In 2016, the firm merged with Progressive AE, which was based in Michigan, to enhance the firm with an expanded portfolio of architecture, interior design, and consultation services. In 2014, AIA Charlotte named Wes Jones a Citizen Architect to honor his contributions to the local community. In 2015, Associate Principal Ryan Doherty received the Charlotte 40 Under 40 Award to recognize his work, particularly as an expert in automotive service and retail design.
Television giant Time Warner Cable sought the expertise of ai Design Group to design its New York City and Charlotte operations 282,000-square-foot office upfit. The project was done in two phases. A cafeteria, a conference area, a boardroom, a training center, and a main lobby were fused into one multi-functional zone. The work environment consists of offices lining the perimeter and workstations on each floor where teams can collaborate or relax. For client AREVA, the firm completed a 29,000-square-foot renovation of the French energy company’s U.S. operations center at Innovation Park. The goal was to transform the building into AREVA’s North American headquarters. This required expanding into an adjacent building to add more space for meeting rooms, workstations, and a training facility. It took only four weeks for the firm to freshen up office space at 200 South Tryon so the owner could attract tenants away from nearby buildings. The lower-level renovation added new lighting fixtures, signage, the main elevator lobby, and food vendor areas with a lounge. Rooms on the upper floors felt more spacious with the addition of tall mirrors and special lighting fixtures. For South Africa-based industrial brand management conglomerate Barloworld’s new North American headquarters in Charlotte, ai had to design a workplace that combined administrative and executive functions into a seamless open setting, complete with an oversized training facility, conference center, and lounge.
Robert C. Crane Jr, AIA
Gary A. Beal, AIA
Address: 1000 West Morehead Street Suite 170, Charlotte, NC
The C Design team creates its masterpiece designs out of the historic Boxer Building on West Morehead Street in Uptown Charlotte’s Third Ward. The firm was founded by Managing Principal Robert C. Crane, Jr., AIA. Crane studied architecture at Iowa State University. He is registered in four states and has developed expertise in workplace design and renovation, transportation planning, and higher education enhancements. Joining him is Principal Gary A. Beal, AIA, who obtained his bachelor’s in architecture from the University of Tennessee. He functions as a project manager, supervising the firm’s high-end projects. Beal was the 1994 recipient of the Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects. In addition to receiving numerous Design Honor Awards from the Charlotte AIA, the firm has also appeared on Business Leader Magazine’s Top 50 Entrepreneurs.
In 2013, the firm completed an $800k workplace renovation of the Office Environments, Inc. office and showroom in Charlotte. C Design partnered with the client to understand its vision for the 20,300-square-foot space. The project involved a sleek overhaul of the company’s video conference meeting rooms, teaming areas, café, hospitality area, and a showroom that followed the openwork/meeting space theme. Another project completed in 2013 was the design of Foodbuy, LLC’s corporate headquarters. The $10.5M project was done in six phases and involved renovating 20,000 square feet of space. When finished, Foodbuy’s CEO praised the firm’s success at creating a high-performing environment that is functional and matches Foodbuy’s corporate culture. For Compass Group, a national foodservice leader, C Design completed a $3.5M renovation of a 130,000-square-foot facility in Charlotte. The project received the 2014 ABC Eagle Award and LEED-CI certification for glass-front offices, low-wall workstations, and centralized break rooms with modern amenities.
M Arthur Gensler Jr, FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA
Diane Hoskins, FAIA, NCARB
Kenneth P. Baker, IIDA, Assoc. AIA
Jordan Goldstein, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP
Address: 214 North Tryon Street Suite 2320 Charlotte, NC 28202
Gensler is undeniably the largest architecture firm in the world with more than 5,000 employees and 44 locations in the Americas, the Middle East, Australia, Europe, and Asia. It was founded in 1965 with its home office in San Francisco. In 2014, the Charlotte Business Journal ranked Gensler’s Charlotte office as the 4th largest firm in the city. For 35 consecutive years, the firm has topped Interior Design magazine’s list of architecture giants. Since 2016, the company has been ranked first on ENR’s Top 150 Global Design Firms, ranked number 25 on Business Insider’s Top 100 Creators list, ranked number one on Architectural Record’s Top 300 firms, and ranked Most Admired U.S. Firm on Building Design’s 2016 World Architecture list. In 2016, Founding Principal Art Gensler, FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Design Futures Council.
The new office in the Nascar Hall of Fame has been described as “Nascar’s Cool 8th Floor.” It is set to launch the stock car racing icon’s Digital Media division in Charlotte. The update reflects Gensler’s belief that breakthrough ideas come from understanding client needs. In the case of Nascar, that meant a fun and fast work environment to mirror the brand’s sport. The 25,000-square-foot open floor plan has race track layouts painted onto the walls and a large Daytona race poster, while a dozen screens monitor NASCAR’s trending topics. Meeting areas have leather couches, scooters, and a foosball table. The simple lighting system was designed to contrast the otherwise high-tech environment. An editorial pit of connecting cubicles allows the work team to watch race coverage right from their seats. Turner Construction — the company that built Madison Square Garden — chose Gensler to design its Charlotte office. The Park Wood location was designed to support the multi-functional and collaborative work of teams for the largest construction management company in the US. A distinctive feature is the full-height windows that flood the work area’s natural light. Gensler’s unique design solutions fit perfectly with Electric Power and Gas Company’s need to renovate its Charlotte location with enough modern flair to attract a new generation of top talent. The open office concept continues throughout the space. Separate work areas are connected by a seamless open office concept. The crowning jewel of this location was Gensler’s design of sloping glass walls to cover the lobby, which is connected to a second floor by a grand, winding staircase.
Jenkins Peer Architects
Edward L. Jenkins, AIA
Gerard W. Peer, FAIA
Address: 112 South Tryon Street, Suite 1300, Charlotte, NC 28202
Since its founding in 1978, Jenkins Peer Architects has been honored with more than 30 awards for its design and construction excellence. JPA’s client-focused approach started with founding Principal Edward L. Jenkins, AIA, who obtained his bachelor’s in architecture from North Carolina State University. His co-founder, Gerard W. Peer, FAIA, also studied at NCSU before obtaining a Master in Architecture from Harvard University. Both men share a passion for renovating historic landmarks throughout North and South Carolina. JPA’s portfolio and client base have expanded over the years to include wide-ranging services for clients in the corporate, industrial, civic, and cultural institutions; nonprofits; and higher education sectors. The firm is especially proud to have received South Atlantic Region AIA Honor Awards for its work on the NBC News International Headquarters and the Merrill Lynch Realty Headquarters both located in Charlotte.
Among its more high-profile projects was JPA’s design concept for Apple, Inc.’s Regional Support Center in Charlotte, which grabbed the North Carolina AIA Honor Award. The Center’s glass curtain-wall allows all personnel a special view of the natural woodland setting. Interior features of the 110,000-square-foot building include open spaces, partitioned work-stations, and a vaulted skylight at the building’s entry and main lobby. Design and construction were completed in just 92 days. JPA received a Preservation Award from the Historic Charlotte Society for its renovation of four-story, 82,000-square-foot corporate offices of the Foundation for the Carolinas in Charlotte. The renovation included an update of the building’s electrical system, the design of commercial and catering kitchens for special events, event space on rooftop terraces, and an open reception area and gallery for paintings and art glass that the Foundation showcases.
Mike Lee Standley, AIA
Address: 1430 South Mint Street, Studio #105, Charlotte, NC 28203
Liquid Design’s Principal Mike Lee Standley, AIA, believes that architecture should seamlessly blend art and science. Standley is joined by Principal Michael Williams, in leading a small firm that has built a big client base ever since its founding in 2000. Williams was named one of 2007’s “40 Under 40” by Building Design and Construction magazine. He obtained his bachelor’s in architecture and urban planning from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and became an adjunct design professor at the University of North Carolina. Lee studied architecture at Virginia Tech and interned at Skidmore Owens and Merrill. Over the firm’s 20 years, it has been honored with numerous recognitions such as the AIA People’s Choice Award, the AIA North Carolina Design Award, and the AIA Charlotte Design Honor Award. In addition, its projects have its own spotlight by appearing in articles by Greater Charlotte Biz Magazine, Uptown Magazine, and the Associated Press. Its wide clientele includes NASCAR, State Farm, and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Insurance giant, State Farm reached out to Liquid Design when it needed a crisp overhaul for the 2,800 square feet office. The Charlotte office lobby is painted in red and white to pay tribute to the State Farm’s famous logo. Heels.com/Just Fabs retained the firm to design the 20,000 square feet of space it rented in Charlotte’s NASCAR tower. The floor plan features ceiling-to-floor windows, a lobby with barstool seating, and a cylindrical glass-encased conference room. For the 80,000 square feet of existing warehouse space that technology provider Velocitor Solutions was adapting into a corporate headquarters in Charlotte, Liquid Design created a façade that features a custom-made, ornamental fiberglass rain screen. Its projects are nothing less than impressive including its work on the National Whitewater Center which earned it the AIA Charlotte Honor Design Award. The 28-mile, $36M project is the world’s largest re-circulating whitewater facility and an official training site of the US Olympic Team.
LS3P Associates Ltd.
Thompson E. Penney, FAIA, LEED AP,
Jeffrey C. Floyd, AIA, LEED AP
Address: 227 W. Trade Street, Suite 700, Charlotte, NC 28202
When Frank Lucas started his architecture firm in Charleston, South Carolina, he was a sole practitioner working in a one-room office. Today, that firm – LS3P – has more than 300 employees in eight locations across three states and a reputation that has turned Fortune 500 clients into repeat customers. Along the way, there were mergers: with TBA2 Associates LLC in 1999, with Boney Architects in 2004, with Neal Prince Architects in 2011, and finally with Hubbard Architecture and Dawson Architects in 2016. Since its inception, the firm has been recognized with more than 490 design awards. The editor of Design Intelligence also expressed that LS3P is “the most local of the global firms and the most ‘world-class of the locals.” The firm has also been ranked 56 on the list of Top 100 Interior Architecture & Design Firms in the US. Its list of clientele includes MetLife, Duke Energy, Citigroup, Electrolux, Bissell, Lowe’s, and Wells Fargo.
LS3P handled the planning, design, furniture systems, and interior architecture for Lowe’s Headquarters Customer Service Center South in Mooresville. The project, completed in 2009, totaled 734,000 square feet of space. The master plan included two seven-story towers that are interconnected at each level. A third level features 100-foot-long pedestrian bridges that are connected to parking decks with a 1,376-capacity of vehicle slots. The firm handled Class ‘A’ office buildings for Harris & Boyle’s offices at Ballantyne Corporate Park. Two 10-story towers had a total of 542,000 square feet that needed sustainable design strategies, such as filtering stormwater runoff, reuse of water for landscape irrigation, bicycle storage, and special parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, 100% recycled steel structures, and white rooftops to reduce solar gain. Not only did the project achieve LEED Gold certification, it also received the NAIOP 2011 National Sustainable Development Award and the BOMA 2010 award for International Suburban Office Park of the Year.
Steve Schmitt, AIA, NCARB
Address: 610 East Morehead St., Charlotte, NC 28202
International design firm Studios Architecture is still based in San Francisco, where it was founded by former Principals Darryl Roberson, FAIA, and Erik Sueberkrop, FAIA, LEED AP in 1985. Today, the firm is led by over 20 principals who all share overwhelming success in the field of architecture. These professionals continue to lead the firm’s high-profile projects which are often the subject of articles in the New York Times and other national business and design journals. In addition to its San Francisco base, Studios has offices and works located in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Paris, and Mumbai. Though originally known for its work with Silicon Valley technology giants, Studios now handles multimillion-dollar projects all over the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Roberson is highly revered by the Fortune 500 companies who counted on him to create their innovative interiors. Roberson’s groundbreaking designs were regarded as an essential aid to envision the field of commercial interior architecture in the US. Sony, Coca-Cola, Google, Dow Jones, Microsoft, Pfizer, Samsung, and Apple are just some of the firm’s most notable clients.
Studios have impacted the metro Charlotte area in two big ways. The first was its response to insurance goliath MetLife’s vision of a workplace where information and ideas could flow easily. The firm designed what is known as “MetLife Square,” a 364,000-square-foot space for MetLife US Retail Headquarters in Charlotte. The 2015 project earned the AIA Charlotte’s Merit Award. A holistic approach is obvious by the way Studios connected the entrance, ground floor lobby, and third-floor employee entry. An opulent staircase links these spaces. Work areas consist of “neighborhoods” for individual work, “homes” for collaboration, and multiple break rooms. A perimeter allowing for maximum daylight and Peanuts-inspired art by Tom Everhart enliven the interior throughout. In nearby Cary, Studios designed a 400,000-square-foot space for MetLife’s Global Technology Campus. The relaxed campus setting theme runs throughout two buildings. There is a coffee bar, fitness center, and an outdoor basketball court. Dozens of formal and informal meeting rooms show MetLife’s commitment to a team-focused, flexible work environment.
WGM Design Inc
William G. Monroe, III, AIA, LEED AP,
Sean P. DeLapp, Assoc. AIA
Address: 2907 Providence Road, Suite 304, Charlotte, NC 28211
Charlotte-based WGM Design has grown an impressive client base since its founding in 1988. William G. Monroe, III, AIA, LEED AP, and Vice President Sean P. DeLapp, Assoc. AIA founded WGM Design on the principles of giving a personal approach to each project on which it has built its solid reputation on. Master planning and design of corporate headquarters are just one of the special services that have brought in big-names, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Duke Energy, and Time Warner Cable. Monroe and DeLapp shares their wealthy background in architecture with its close-knitted team of professionals. Both leaders are members of the AIA, US Green Building Council, and more.
WGM was tapped to design the 12-story, 276,000-square-foot interior offices of Duke Energy, in the tallest office tower to receive USGBC LEED for Core and Shell certification. Duke’s headquarters is the first in the world to require every tenant to pursue LEED certification level for commercial interiors. It is also the first LEED Core and Shell Platinum project completed in the state. The interiors were designed with “Workplace of the Future” principles in mind: collaborative and open floor plans, lots of natural light, and sustainable strategies. Another corporate project is the 95,000-square-foot US headquarters building of Charlotte software company Enovia. WGM designed the first three-story tilt-up structure in the state. When fiber optics company Digital Optics needed a design for 40k square feet of office space and 66k square feet of cleanroom and warehouse facilities, WGM decided to split the functions between two buildings but to connect the structures in a way that allowed for a free flow of employee traffic between them.