FORM Architects have designed the impressive Hanley Wood offices, a real estate media firm, located in Washington DC. As an award-winning real estate media firm who is consistently immersed in architectural vocabulary, Hanley Wood had no difficulty establishing a design language for their prospective space. Abstract ideas took shape in an in-depth Visioning process, revealing three themes that would define their space: Connect, Challenge, and Cultivate. The Hanley Wood team poetically described their vision for employing these themes to create an honest and nimble space constructed with a juxtaposition of raw, natural materials and polished industrial elements. Using the mental imagery formed by these creative minds, designers conceptualized a “raw, refined” aesthetic that would realize Hanley Wood’s vision for their space and mimic their process; taking raw data and refining it into palatable resources. With a strong conceptual foundation, the project effortlessly evolved through the design phase, but took an unexpected turn when the location changed.
The building that was selected offered space on two separate floors. This provided the team with a unique opportunity to introduce an interconnecting stair into the design. This focal element required immediate engagement of the general contractor and structural engineer to assist with the accompanying technical requirements of opening the slab.
Apart from the addition of a stair, the design team was challenged with maintaining the integrity of their initial design and adhering to the original budget and schedule within the entirely new floor plan. Designer’s credit much of the project’s success to the extra levels of renderings and documentation provided in the schematic design and design development phases. Communicating design intentions with this level of depth enabled the client to make quick, confident decisions. The new design approach was so well received, the firm has adopted it as a company standard.
Expedient decision making became important not only in adhering to the original project schedule, but in a merger that Hanley Wood started with a secondary company. Clear, concise communication served as a constant as the design team worked to earn buy-in from the newly engaged company while maintaining momentum with the Hanley Wood team.
The completed space demonstrates the sophistication that can be achieved by utilizing superior quality structural elements to craft a raw environment. The space is not boastful but instead impressive in its bold restraint. It is a departure from what is regularly known as industrial design. There is an authenticity to the finishes, the furniture is nostalgic yet forward-thinking, and the placement of lighting and materials intuitively move the user through the space. Some of the most distinct design moments exist in the corners and niches throughout the floorplan; where pockets of space are utilized, catering to a variety of privacy needs and work styles. The walls that surround the space are a blank canvas behind bold primary colors found in an extensive art collection, pops of Hanley Wood’s signature red, and a custom film strip wall of Mid-Century modern dollhouses showcasing a playful interpretation of their work.
The editorial staff is a unique part of Hanley Wood’s program. Focusing predominantly on deliverables; they are constantly “refining”. To satisfy their programming needs in a meaningful way, designers devised a unique desking solution that would introduce collaborative design into an otherwise transactional space. The custom millwork desk, referred to as the “Refinery”, was designed specifically in response to their editorial process; the form inspired by their constant output of digital and print media.
Hanley Wood’s office space celebrates architecture and construction. Raw and refined, the space showcases a unique character and quality of materials used congruently through different applications. These subtle similarities found in mimicking patterns, colors, and textures creates cohesion and a sense of comfort. The design provides opportunities to connect, creates an environment that will continue to cultivate forward-thinking employees, and challenges the traditional way of working.
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