"We were in a building with traditional workspaces," Darrell DeVoe, vice president for corporate facilities at the Ann Taylor Stores Corporation, said of the old Manhattan headquarters at 142 West 57th Street.
Employees felt constrained.They wanted light and storage.They wanted ad hoc work spaces permitting self-expression.
But while Ann Taylor executives agreed that comfortable employees are productive ones, and that they needed a stand-out headquarters to be a fashion industry employer of choice, they were intent on expanding in a budget-conscious way with limited customization that would still give employees flexibility and allow for reconfiguration and expansion later.Armed with guidance from the architectural and design firm HOK, once known as Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, and the rank and file, Mr. DeVoe orchestrated an unusual cookie-cutter solution producing, in his words, "a very special cookie," within the 300,000 square feet leased on 12 floors last August at the new Times Square Tower. (The 47-story wedge-shaped building at 7 Times Square owned by Boston Properties was designed by the architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.)
"We called it the 'kit of parts,' " said Mr. DeVoe
of the rolling accouterments assigned to each workspace: a privacy screen with a hanging rack on one side; a table that can be pushed against others for group creativity; a low storage cart fitted with shelves, a hanging rack or both; and a filing cabinet.
anticipates future dividends as work groups evolve in the flexible environment, where there is room for around 200 more people in do-it-yourself configurations.He
said employees seemed to get a morale lift not only from their influence on the overall design - in addition to intensive planning-phase interviews, employees critiqued three sample offices - but also by the ability to fashion their workplaces into extensions of themselves.
"I think there's a big trend toward trying to create spaces that are much more person-friendly," said Mr. DeVoe
, noting a desire among the younger members of the work force for less-structured office space.