A New Reading of the Private Office

Like many of our clients, Bass Studio Architects has been working from home for the past several months. This time away from our typical office environment has caused us to take a deeper look back on our previous studies of the office. Our interest has focused back on one particularly relevant project, Workstate. Completed in 2015, Workstate is the Columbus office of a national Software Development company.

The discussions with the client centered around the concept of the open vs private office. Workstate held a strong belief that a private workspace is crucial for individuals comfort and productivity. The project became a study on how to develop a private workspace, without isolating employees from their coworkers. In light of Covid-19, this concept of separation without isolation seems increasingly relevant. The question on our minds is, if new considerations of social distancing should be a permanent factor in future office design?

At the time of the design the primary concern was that of acoustic isolation, while maintaining visual and spatial connection in each office pod. However, it is worth revisiting these now in their relation to distancing, and community health.

Two primary strategies are used to create a sense of connection for the 16 private offices. Running in banks south to north, each of the offices have aligning internal windows. Additionally, translucent polycarbonate walls at the north and south bring diffuse light into each bank of offices.

In addition to the acoustic isolation, these private offices have the now pertinent benefit of allowing each person their own socially distanced workspace (when they return to the office). In these uncertain times we cannot predict what the long-term future of the conventional office may be. However, we hope to start a dialogue with the community into how we designers may develop more fulfilling and healthy workplaces.