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Architecture often is organized around abstract geometrical ideas, sometimes they are metaphorical symbols related to the client or their business. Little Diversified has a great example of this approach in their design for Signature Flight Support Headquarters, in one of the new office buildings in Lake Nona. This office was designed for a newly merged pair of aircraft and flight line service companies.

Here is their concept sketch of vector lines extending from this new headquarters in Central Florida to their other locations. The design team developed a unique approach to incorporate these vectors into the terrazzo floor and branded graphics used throughout the spaces to remind visitors and staff of their company facilities around the world.

My favorite is another symbolic shape in the form of folded ceilings, from paper airplane reference that is used above team gathering areas throughout all 3 floors. This project also shows Little’s design of the contemporary workplace providing a variety of comfortable options besides the traditional desk, to allow team collaboration and break areas inspiring more enjoyable work experience and staff retention.

Their third symbolic feature is to suggest the blue sky and clouds by painting the exposed ceiling areas a deep blue, against the white suspended ceiling areas above desks and conference areas. The blue ceilings also draw your eye along the circulation areas throughout the 3 floors. Also you can see in the photo above, the stairs between floors are visible through fire rated glass windows, making travel between floors more enjoyable while enhancing interaction between employees. While not an inexpensive item, these windows demonstrate the client’s commitment to collaboration and the architects’ comprehension of the client’s desires.

The building floor layout developed by Little’s team allows all the employees to enjoy the expansive views out of the mostly floor to ceiling exterior glass walls. Traditional office plans used to put private offices allow the exterior wall, giving only window views to management. Little arranges the offices (highlighted in dark blue) in rows from the center of the building toward the perimeter, the same rows that the open workstations get.

The aisle around the core (highlighted in grey) gives access to the restrooms, elevators, emergency exit stairs, conference rooms, printers, supplies and files, interspersed with seating nook work areas that allow a break from one’s desk. Grouping these rooms in a large central block allows the remainder of the floor to be open and airy for maximum collaboration. Three well located cross aisles (highlighted in light blue) provide quick connections between the two sides. These aisles end at the exterior glass walls providing views of the surrounding city, adding to the sense of connection to the outdoors.

Here are some additional views of this wonderful office. Some of the walls below also fold a bit to repeat the ceiling concept.

Reviewed from around 50 submissions, the jury selected two for an Award of Honor, one is this project. Little Diversified Architectural Consulting also received two Awards of Merit for Unbuilt and Theoretical projects, which we will feature in the coming months. Of this entry the judges said:

· Clearly defined concept and design drivers were carried out throughout the entire project.

· Had a sense of openness that visually and spatially allowed the interior to feel as part of the landscape.

· Craftsmanship and composition of the interior space was nicely executed.

· Good variety of spaces with cubicles, offices and various collaboration areas throughout.

As described by the Architects:

Located in Lake Nona, FL, this project is designed for two companies merging their aircraft and flight line services, and relocating into a single new headquarters. The project was an opportunity to design an environment which reinforces the collaborative culture between the two firms, creating a significant new U.S. presence.

While analyzing the shell space, it became apparent that the most logical organizational concept would be to expand the core into a longer bar that would house all the supporting program elements. This approach created two large open studio areas, to the south and the north. As a result of this simple organization, the concept of east-west parallel bars emerged forming the interior space for each studio. The studios are defined by a simple elevated acoustical ceiling and the circulation spaces open to the structure above. The north south linear nature of the entry lobby incorporates a folded ceiling, reinforcing the importance of the firm’s philosophy and core business of aircraft and flight line services.

The parallel bar concepts creates multiple visual corridors throughout the plan, assuring that all occupied spaces have access to daylight and views to the outside. Great care was given to creating spaces that support collaboration and impromptu meetings, including open work areas, open break/cafeteria areas, quiet zones and collaborations areas. Many of the important social and community functions focus on the existing building’s central WELLNESS stair. Care was taken to select new products that have a high recycled content; such as the carpet, ceiling tiles, furniture systems, and wood species for the millwork. All of the lighting is LED and is fully dimmable with automatic daylighting and occupancy sensors. The Client also invested in a high-tech space, including digital collaboration tools and a digital ceiling with Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting.

The single greatest challenge of the lease area was the tradition building core in the middle of each floor plan. While this offered a central locations for, restrooms, stairs, HVAC and elevators it severely limited the clients desire to have large contiguous open and connected areas.

To overcome this challenge the design team developed a series of north south cross corridors to link the north and south spaces. The enclosed offices where positioned parallel to these axis to reinforce this idea. A simple circulation around the core was developed to access theses axis. To further reinforce these support functions such as conference room, print rooms and wellness rooms where added into the core. To enhance the daylighting into the space, care was taken to hold all the office and furniture away from the exterior glazing.

We hope you enjoyed these photos and drawings, and look forward to explaining more about last year’s award winning buildings next month.

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