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17 Dec

FENNIE+MEHL on The Registry

By Nancy Amdur 

When municipal bond law firm Jones Hall began thinking about how to update its new San Francisco office space, designers from Fennie+Mehl Architects showed the company some technology firms’ office features.

“While they knew that [office format] wasn’t for them, there were a lot of ideas they wanted to borrow,” said Jenna Ruth, a senior designer and senior associate at San Francisco-based Fennie+Mehl, who worked on the project.

Jones Hall is just one of many companies in sectors such as law, finance and consulting that are taking a cue from tech companies when modernizing their office space.

“No question, the tech industry is influencing every other industry,” said David Meckley, a principal and workplace strategist at Huntsman Architectural Group in San Francisco.

“We’re seeing a good amount of spillover from the tech industry” in thinking about workplace, added Leo Chow, a design partner in the San Francisco office of architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.

After 13 years in a 15,200-square-foot downtown space, Jones Hall wanted to fit into 9,500 square feet at 475 Sansome St. without cutting staff, Ruth said. Over the years, law office needs have changed—for instance, office libraries are smaller—and workplace design overall has been updated. Fennie+Mehl worked to reflect those changes, revitalize the space and reduce the firm’s footprint by forming a more efficient layout, Ruth said. The company moved into the new office last year.

Creating more collaborative space—a common theme among tech companies looking to inspire conversation and innovation—became part of Jones Hall’s new design. While the firm’s old break room occupied a small windowless space, Fennie+Mehl used a room offering a “beautiful direct-shot” view of the city’s Coit Tower for the firm’s new break area, Ruth said. The result: the previously underutilized room is now often occupied and the firm holds monthly social events in the space, she said.

“All kinds [of companies] are reaching out for more collaborative space,” Chow said.

View the full Article on The Registry