Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP, (PHRD) a mid-sized law firm in Atlanta relocated its office to a new location in January. The new office, which had previously been home to a law firm, underwent a complete renovation by The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) who provided programming/planning, interior architecture and architectural design services. The design team has been working with PHRD on the project for more than four years through preliminary design, strategic planning, and building selection. A design committee from PHRD was formed at the start of the programming/planning phase and collaborated with SLAM throughout the design process providing different perspectives to the project. This collaborative design process involved focus groups and visioning sessions involving various stakeholders including partners, associates, and administrative staff.
Recognizing a need for a space that could be more flexible in response to future changes, PHRD decided to standardize the sizes of individual offices and moved away from the use of corner offices. With the new design, conference rooms are situated in the corner spaces and are also spread throughout the floor, increasing collaboration and communication among attorneys and staff. PHRD has also blurred the distinction between partners and associates in order to create a more transparent and collaborative environment within the firm. The relocation has allowed PHRD to use the space more efficiently. Bobby Johnston, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, RID, SLAM’s interior designer on the project explains that “the standards in law office design have really changed. With the ever increasing use of technology, the ratio of secretaries per attorney has decreased, while the use of para-professionals has increased.”
According to Johnston, a major design consideration involved integrating current technology throughout the space, especially in meeting rooms. It also involved using existing portions of the space as much as possible when appropriate. The project involved the reuse of many elements in the space, such as wood paneling, stone floors, custom office furniture and built-in file cabinets which were in some cases reconfigured and relocated to better support the firm’s current and future needs.
A monumental stair connects the two floors of the new office, which spans a total of 40,000 square feet. A café is also an innovative feature of the project replacing small break rooms. This multi-purpose space creates a bright, friendly atmosphere which has become a social hub for the firm and is used for meals, receptions, open houses, and other events.
Most perimeter offices remained intact, with the exception of glass fronts added to allow light to flow into the space. Internal offices also have glass fronts as well to take in natural light from the perimeter offices. Within the internal office space, various desk configurations such as a sit/stand desk provide variety for the occupants.
“The space is more efficiently designed so that it reflects how their practice works today compared to how they worked when the firm first started 35 years ago,” says Johnston. “This efficiency is created through the program and design of more collaborative space and conference rooms that are now spread out across the floors, as well as placed in the previous corner office spaces. This is in addition to the more informal gathering spaces such as the café and an informal lounge on the second floor.