Shea Links: April

At Shea, we pride ourselves on staying on top of what’s happening in design news. It helps us keep tabs on what’s fresh, inspiring, and happening in the world—and we make a few headlines of our own, too. Here are some recent articles delving into design, experience, and what’s buzzing in our community:

“Evolutions in Workspace Design” – Work Design:
The physical office is undergoing a serious revolution, and every company will be looking to adapt their workplace-design model to best suit their needs—whether it’s satellite offices, a hub-and-spoke model, or a more traditional setup—and still put employee experience and a culture-driven environment at center stage. Flexibility and choice in terms of furniture, floor plans, circulation paths, and multi-use spaces that can be reconfigured quickly and easily will be key. Incorporating technology to untether and equalize employees will create a culture of trust and access. Sustainability and wellbeing initiatives and design will make the office a pleasant place for employees and unlock their potential. And modern workspaces must take inclusion and diversity into account to create an environment with the desired company culture.

“Strategic Design Should Reflect a Post-Pandemic Workforce Culture” – Arch Daily:
This Arch Daily story looks at how the last year of working remotely will embed itself into workplace practices going forward, as organizations start to think about how to handle the return of employees to the physical office. Strategic design is the solution to help make hybrid workplaces work—starting with discussing with clients how the company’s culture is going to transform to sustain success in the new world of work, and then designing to shape that, with the idea that a built environment will impact behavior. Designers must design for a change of habits in the workforce, meaning well-conceived layouts and circulation, multi-use spaces in a central location, and an emphasis on digital connection. The piece includes the Sony Music office as a pre-pandemic case study that will endure going forward.

“Smack Shack to Open Shea-Designed Bloomington Location” – Shea:
News on Smack Shack’s upcoming Bloomington opening, a large seafood spot with an expansive patio

“Reworking Expediting Stations” – Foodservice Equipment and Supplies:
As dining rooms continue to reopen in greater numbers, many restaurant operators are turning to designers to rethink the expediting station to serve not only in-house diners but off-premises as well. The stations need to function seamlessly without obstructing sight lines, and an expansion in length is one way to accommodate extra to-go packaging and dishes. Right-sizing a station depends on the intricacies of a restaurant operation. Positioning is also important; many operators want the pass to function as a double-sided island to make a smoother transition for food runners. And more and more restaurants will want to add a streetside window right off the pass to generate more revenue. Temperature-controlled zones, with hot and cool spots, must be designed with aesthetics in mind, along with power sources, shelving, and organization.

“Here Come Hot Desks and Zoom Rooms. And Holograms?” – New York Times:
Expanded gathering spaces. Fewer personal workspaces. Workplaces are being redesigned and recreated to emphasize only those activities that benefit from in-person interaction, meaning more areas for collaboration, training, and creative brainstorming—all with the goal of promoting a company’s culture and identity. This means moveable furniture, hot-desking (with reservations and cleaning procedures), and “Zoom rooms,” which will include high-tech cameras, microphones, speakers, and multiple screens. Screens and digital whiteboards will be everywhere, and modifications to protect against Covid (floor decals, touchless tech, upgraded HVAC, outdoor spaces) aren’t going anywhere.

“A New Normal” – VMSD:
VMSD takes a look at the next stages for retail, in response to how the pandemic has shaped shopper habits over the last year. Customers have leaned into frictionless shopping offers, such as curbside pick-up, delivery, and using personal shoppers, and many intend to continue using those services. Retailers are planning for the best ways to make them work long-term, along with digital transactions (often via QR code) and 24/7 delivery options, even for groceries (by way of “smart coolers”).

“How the Pandemic is Changing Restaurant Design” – Washingtonian:
Washington, D.C.’s top local magazine looks at how the restaurant-design landscape will shift in the years ahead, using city spots to illustrate points of what will stick around and what’s temporary. Retail will be better-incorporated into restaurants for good and flow designed for takeout will stay important, but “hygiene theater” (plexiglass dividers and the like) are temporary fixes, and noise complaints in restaurants are expected to reduce as people want to be in buzzy spaces. Private-feeling spaces will have a resurgence, as guests look to have their own nooks and high-backed booths to settle into, and the story looks at the double-edged sword of second-generation restaurants (especially when the association with the previous tenant is a strong one). And of course outdoor dining is imperative, with the piece giving a special nod to the “streetside chateaus” at Le Diplomate.

“AxeBridge Wine Co. Open in the North Loop” – Shea:
A roundup of news on the North Loop’s first urban winery, a cozy underground spot filled with custom touches

“Digital Nomads Influencing Design: From Empty Lobbies to Community Hubs” – Work Design:
With more companies than ever planning to adopt a “work from anywhere” policy, collaborative spaces are on the rise for people to spend their days working, relaxing, and shopping. Buildings of all varieties (apartments, office towers, shopping centers) can consider using their lobbies as amenities spaces to draw in those who might otherwise have no reason to enter the building, creating areas for work that give people cause to visit. Furthermore, creating a great lobby experience can help companies entice workers back into the physical office. This piece looks at different amenities that can be added and offered in these spaces, and how this movement will evolve building and lobby design for years to come.