Reimagining A Law Firm’s Workspace
1401 NEW YORK AVE NW, WASHINGTON, DC
Client: Boies Schiller Flexner, Washington, DC
Boies Schiller Flexner (BSF), a globally recognized legal practice, has long operated with the agility and spirit of a startup while confined to the ill-fitting workplace of a more traditional law firm. The design team re-imagined their Washington, D.C. offices to align the built environment with the firm’s collaborative workstyle while fostering a uniquely equalitarian corporate culture.
To better understand the client’s requirements, the designers engaged in an intensive workplace strategy process, including observation analysis, activity tracking, workshops and surveys. The findings argued that the firm could see an increase in productivity and occupancy by neutralizing hierarchy, open desking support staff, along with some attorneys, and introducing new varieties of spaces that would diversify the office landscape.
This push led the design team to transform the historical spatial model where corner offices became a cafe and “library” space: collective amenities, democratic spaces claiming the best daylight and views. “Paralegal Pits” and large back of house spaces were removed in favor of mixing younger lawyers and support staff in open seating areas, promoting greater connectivity and improving job performance through knowledge share.
An open core unites three levels of enclosed collaborative areas and work pods with shared offices beyond, increasing participation while maintaining acoustical separation and minimizing distraction. The defining elements of the space allow occupants to focus individually, collaborate with colleagues, host clients, and recruit new talent, supporting a variety of workstyles and promoting opportunities for growth.
Photos by David Sundberg and Judy Davis.