It’s always fun when your alma mater features you in their publication. Click here to check it out.
The alarm goes off. Turns out it’s only been few hours since you shut your brain down (as a courtesy to your body of course) from the night before. Your daily fuel? A whole tank of passion often topped off with a healthy (unhealthy?) dose of liquid caffeine.
Yet even with that passion and caffeine jolt, the daily needs of your emerging business are plenty and you are constantly required to both strategically and quickly make choices that either will help or hurt your company’s future. Overwhelming? You bet. More often than not, you’ve started with tight resources that are being beckoned by every faction of your business. Do we hire more people? Invest in development? Build a stellar website? Pay the rent? Take a paycheck? Buy the cool business cards? Get that software we need? Design our space to fit us?
Regarding your physical office environment, let’s just get honest here: A giant lump sum of cash isn’t always available to invest in physical space in the early days, especially since every dollar is fiercely competed for by each and every pressing need. This, is the reality. Cash is tight, stakes are high.
To get your start-up’s space right, you have to know four things before you put pencil to paper, paint to walls, or start assembling furniture.
1) The culture you’re building
It’s key to articulate up front, as early as possible your ideal culture, so you can be proactive in building it rather than reactive about fixing it in the future. Your physical environment has a substantial impact on how your people work and interact. Productivity and goodwill can all be influenced by the space you’re in every day. And in a time where the economy is rebounding, the war will be for all-star talent, making it urgent to know how you’ll attract others to join you in your adventure. Understanding, and being able to articulate the culture you want to build will allow you to create a space that fosters it.
2) The brand story you’re building
Brand stories give an easily shared and readily understood message to what your company is all about. As a start up, you are uniquely positioned in the early chapters of your own brand story. Take advantage of this opportunity to pen your own message from a blank page, being thoughtful and deliberate. Knowing this early allows you to use your space as yet another medium to communicate it. Even more, it ensures your space will be authentic to you.
3) Your ideal work-flow and processes
There’s never been a better time than now to get this right. If you can imagine what your ideal work-flow will be between you and your team, you’ll save yourself the energy of correcting the ineffective ones that will arise in a void. What’s the level of interaction your people need to have together? What types of tasks will occur? How are they different for various roles? How is technology utilized and how can it be integrated best? Do you have road warriors? Heads-down production roles? Highly interactive/social roles? Most certainly you’ll have a mix. So before designing the environment you’ll work in, know your unique mix so that your space can be a place to enhance it, not hinder it.
4) Your staffing projections
Yes, I realize that this is a super practical no-brainer. However, the projections of who and when you hire should be a by-product of your above ideal work-flow exercise. Studying your ideal growth pattern for your human capital will be one of the most critical informants of the design and phasing of your space. Knowing your strategy here will help you make clear decisions as you assess your options.
The start-ups that know these four things, can be confident in approaching the design of their workspace in phases as cash becomes available. [Note: you probably do want to get that coffee maker first.]
We quickly found that when you launch a firm there are several questions we need to be able to answer. One of those being, “Are you new?” The answer is yes. So we thought it would be helpful to create an infographic that helps tell the story of our combined project experience as a team prior to forming DELV.
When I look at architecture as a profession…both what it used to be and what it is…I long for the days when clients hired an architect because they were also an artist, a builder, a philosopher (and yes, I know that’s back in like the 1500’s). When design and creative thinking mattered; as opposed to the current mentality which tends to favor fast and cheap design, with architects merely acting as a drafting service.
DELV Design was founded around the principle tenet that “Design Matters”. To us that means that our clients want to hire us for more than a drafting service. They want us to imagine with them about their projects, to incorporate art as a part of the experience within their space, and to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty during construction to make sure all the details are perfect. And we want that too, don’t we all in this profession? We want to delve into the why’s and how’s behind our clients’ projects to insure that they uniquely embody their story; both for their employees who will live that story and to their clients/customers who will come to experience it first hand.
So as nobility in architecture goes, we would like to think ours is a noble cause. Too elevate the client’s “story” to the forefront of the design so their employees embody it and their customers connect with it.
If this is how you envision the telling of your “story”, come delve in with us.
If you hang out around the DELV team much, you will undoubtedly hear talk of “the story”.
We like to use this language because it is that middle overlapping section of the ven diagram of all of our passions. We all love a good story. We want to be a part of a good story, help others tell good stories with their lives. Each story is different and unique, and all are interesting and praiseworthy. We want to help a hospital tell the story of the mission of helping the community. We want to help a homeowner tell a story of building a home to be able to walk their kids to school and use as little energy as possible. We want to tell the story of a school system that innovates constantly in the classroom to bring out the very best in their students. We want to tell the story of a company that is reinventing the way of doing business and needs a space to support this.
We love a good story, and we want to be engaged with these all.
This is why we won’t ever tout being a project-specific firm. Yes, we have areas of expertise and resumes to highlight our experiences, but we aim to be a vision-specific firm instead. If a client’s vision overlaps with ours, perfect.
That overlap is where great projects are born.
We arrived at our first design problem as a firm: where and what does our new office look like?
We considered briefly whether we even needed a physical space. We can all work from anywhere, yes? But, what we find gets lost when we are not all together is that immaterial culture that is so hard to create a good one, and you never want to let go of one when you have it. We needed a place where we can not only host clients and energetic design meetings, but create an atmosphere that is conducive to our own design processes. And, as it turns out, our strength is when we are together doing what we do best — collaborating. So, physical space it is.
When searching for a location for a new office, we wanted to locate ourselves in the heart of our city, Indianapolis. As authenticity is a tenant of ours, we wanted a building and a space that feels authentically us. While we considered spaces to use during our start-up phase (including our own basements), we have made liberal use of libraries, coffee shops and eateries with gracious waitstaff to allow us to park way-too-long at their tables (sorry!).
Our search quickly took us to downtown Indianapolis so we could feel as connected to our community as possible. It’s a spectacular city with a burgeoning culture of innovatives, artists, creatives, tech, and some of the best shrimp cocktail known to man. We needed to be as close to that pulse as possible. Without divulging too many boring details of our search, we quickly honed in on what used to be a car factory, called The Stutz, affectionately named after the Stutz cars that used to be produced there until the stock market crash of 1929. It is home currently to over 150 tenants, with a large portion being in the arts. This culture seemed to be a great fit for us — so we found a space, and bit. We look forward to moving in in January, and are chomping at the bit to begin the design on our own space.
Stay tuned for details.
Architects and design firms often get asked what their specialty is. “So, what types of projects do you do?”… is how the conversation typically starts. At DELV, we are founded on a vision about a type of client we serve, not a type of project we do. The Passive House was compelling because of the type of client, and their passion to see an extremely high performance home come to life. Zionsville will be home to the first registered Passive House in the state of Indiana. Designed by DELV Design and constructed by Cedar Street Builders, construction is estimated to be completed in June 2015.
The story of this house is an exciting one, with the owner also being the builder who is passionate about extremely energy efficient design, and wanted his family’s home to be a bellwether of construction to come. Pairing an impassioned client with a clear vision is a recipe for a rewarding project, one that few (any?) architects would not jump at. The home is nestled in downtown Zionsville among a historic and eclectic neighborhood with an abundance of small-town charm. Finding the right mixture of respect for context while celebrating the uniqueness in design was where the true balance was met. The fact that this is a passive house and will be LEED certified is innovative (for the current market) and important — is somewhat counter-intuitive because the goal of the project is just the opposite. Once this philosophy of reduction in energy use is absorbed fully into the market, the hope is that Passive construction and Energy efficiency is no longer a unique talking point, but is simply, “good construction”.
What is a Passive House exactly? PHIUS.org explains it this way:
“Passive building comprises a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable comfort level. “Maximize your gains, minimize your losses” summarize the approach. To that end, a passive building is designed and built in accordance with these six building-science principles:
– It employs continuous insulation through its entire envelope without any thermal bridging.
– The building envelope is extremely airtight, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.
– It employs high-performance windows (typically triple-paned) and doors
– It uses some form of balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation and uses a minimal space conditioning system.
– Solar gain is managed to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes and to minimize it in cooling seasons.
– Passive building principles can be applied to all building typologies–from single-family homes to apartment building to offices and skyscrapers. “
Like many of you, we’re starting something “toast-worthy” in 2015.
The four of us are thankful for how you’ve let us be even a small part of your story to date.
Cheers to the new year,
Cara Weber, Amanda Welu, Chris Lake, & Jeremy Welu