From our first collaboration in the early '90s, it was apparent that Fremont Investment & Loan was a company that valued people and relationships. So when they asked us to help them design new headquarters for their rapidly growing company, the challenge was to create an efficient yet warm and inviting environment from what was originally a cold, cavernous, 104,000-square-foot industrial space.
Through a combination of hard-wall office spaces and accent walls, we created intimate work areas within the expansive interior to improve the flow and encourage teamwork among related departments and workstations. Eschewing conventional grid-oriented cubicle systems, we instead angled the cubicles, allowing them to spill into corridors for a friendlier, forest path-like feel. Soft, warm color palettes and "getaway" spaces like the tropical lunchroom and courtyard patio further reflected the company's commitment to its employees' comfort and contentment.
Lighting also played an integral role in improving employee morale. Wherever possible, we installed oversized, angled skylights to spread natural light throughout the vast interior. On the lower floor, we introduced false skylights and indirect lighting to give the illusion of natural light, for a more organic, energizing environment.
In keeping with Fremont's practice of community involvement, we recommended that the old, fully functional light fixtures be donated to a local non-profit, earning Fremont a sizable tax credit while conserving resources and landfill space. We further minimized the project's environmental impact through the use of alternative, "green" materials, adding nothing to the original project cost.
Our close working relationships with Fremont, the contractor, and city officials established a level of trust that allowed the project to progress at an accelerated rate. Prior to starting, we met with city officials to clarify their requirements. This meeting informed the project plan we presented to the city, expediting its approval and allowing the project to start ahead of schedule. By maintaining close contact with the city, following through on our promises and giving the contractor the latitude to do his job, we were able to complete what should have been at least a yearlong project in less than 8 months.
Throughout our history with Fremont, our understanding of their culture, work and goals has continued to deepen, enabling us to anticipate their rapidly changing needs, facilitate communication and expedite each project. In this case, it not only saved time and money, it further strengthened the most important relationship of all ... the one between Fremont and their valued employees.
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