one company coupled its need for openness with a need for quality
have a little bit of a different culture here," says Bruce Mitchell,
MIS Manager at Outer Circle Products of Chicago. "Ours is a very open,
flat organization." Mitchell says when the company expanded its headquarters
in 1997, managers chose the architecture to reflect this attitude. The
conference room, for example, had to be open, with large, almost floor
to ceiling windows overlooking the factory floor. Thatís important not
only so meeting participants can look out, but so the workforce can
look in. There are no secrets in this organization and the windows are
a powerful reminder of that fact.
the advantages of this kind of culture, there are some serious drawbacks,
too, at least from an a/v designerís point of view. The factory floor
is brightly lit with skylights, and, because itís so open, the conference
room is brightly lit as well. Bright light is the enemy of projection,
and so most meeting rooms are either windowless or have room-darkening
shades. Designing a projection system that would work well in sunlit
conditions was an interesting challenge for United Visualís Doug Carnell,
but one that he was able to meet.
A major remodeling
Outer Circle is the largest supplier of lunch boxes and soft-sided coolers
in the United States, marketing under the brand names Arctic Zone and
Click!Case, as well as supplying a number of other firms on an OEM basis.
The companyís staff takes
a great deal of pride in their work and have a strong sense of the uniqueness
of their product and of their company. So when the firmís management
began to plan an enlargement and remodeling of their Chicago plant and
headquarters, they decided to build something that reflected their values.
"The idea," says Mitchell,
"was to divide the work space to reflect the culture of the company.
The architect was Jordan Moserówho did the Cheese Cake Factory and
some other unique buildings. First, he arranged the space in neighborhoods.
We have an information systems neighborhood, a finance neighborhood,
a development neighborhood and so on, each with a resource center
where we have color printing and production, laser printing and a
copier. Meeting rooms are focused around the atrium, so that when
people are meeting and working the folks in the factory can see that
and the folks in the meeting can see them too. Moser used some pretty
neat design elements and lines of site, so we have a building thatís
exciting to be in, as well as functional.
"The conference room is
kind of the centerpiece of it all. We have the window looking in from
the atrium with a clock right next to it and our informational scoreboard.
Thatís where we give out all kinds of information about how weíre
doing in sales and profits and announce about anything from personnel
issues to daily production percentages and how they match against
says the firm uses the conference room for presentations to large
clients, which include buyers from the countryís largest retailers.
"Obviously it was built to be the centerpiece, the focal point of
information distribution and high level work in the company. When
we bring clients in here, weíre bringing them to our showplace." Mitchell
says they also use the room for team and executive meetings and for
some small-group training. Itís available to virtually anyone in the
company, from the CEO to workers on the factory floor.