Fellowship for the Performing Arts

Fellowship for Performing Arts | Workplace Co-Design

"Pilot Projects essentially doubled the size of our space." - Max McLean, Artistic Director, FPA

Before: Cramped with beige cubicles, florescent lights, "DMV-like"

After: Glass and wood sliding wall, red carpet, stage lighting set the tone for the redesigned workplace.

We began our work with FPA by facilitating a series of vibrant conversations, exploring their vision for growth, business model and core values. With this foundation we were able to assist them in a real estate search and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of different locations. This included looking closely at the latent potentials of the space they were already in! Enter the SANDBOX, our tool for participatory design. With the whole FPA team at the table we were able to work through big picture issues like growth of their team, changing workflow and branding, and as well as details like where the printer would be located and who took the loudest phone calls.

At the heart was a desire to create a welcoming, creative environment that reflects their rich, evocative story-telling through theater productions. As they discussed their goals and desires through the Keep, Toss, Create activity it became clear that FPA was passionate about ridding their office of its "DMV-ness" and replacing it with a personality, communal spaces, a kitchen area, and niches for private meetings and calls.

After several co-design SANDBOX sessions the team settled on a design. To make sure we were on the same page we created a physical model with movable parts, and a digital model. With the new design, the team was exciting about staying in the space, now we had to figure out how to construct it on their limited budget.

One of our core values at Pilot Projects is reducing waste and environmental impact. And we believe that the best way to do that in design is to adapt existing infrastructure to new needs, rather than throwing things in the trash and buying new goods from factories in Asia. This is not easy to do, particularly when a whole new look is in order.

We set about understanding as much as we could about the furniture systems in the current space. We were able to re-use more than 60% of these materials (desktops, support legs, storage cabinets) to create the brand new environment. The remainder was recycled. New insertions were constructed on site by a local contractor from Baltic Birch plywood, including the large glass and wood sliding wall system to offer a private meeting area. 

The finished space boasts several features that help it reflect the FPA brand and values: Bamboo "stage flooring" in the entry, Stage curtains for flexible privacy and acoustics, theater lighting grid with LED adapted stage lights and inset red carpet for a flash of color.

"In New York you have to be really mindful of space, and the issue was how to have comfortable, productive space in a relatively small area...  We looked at other spaces, thinking we might need to move. We were adding more people, and we needed to be able to entertain visitors.

Pilot Projects essentially doubled the size of our space. Before, it felt like everyone was on an airplane. Now everyone's got all the room they need, and everyone feels more productive. We have meeting areas and make a great first impression with our space. It's a way of expressing our brand."

     Max McLean
     Artistic Director, Fellowship for the Performing Arts

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