CORPORATE WORKPLACE

 

National Winner/Winner Scotland Region - Sponsored by Francis Graves Ltd
Scottish Enterprise HQ, Glasgow

Developer

Bellhouse Joseph

Occupier

Scottish Enterprise

Architect

Building Design Partnership

Civil & Structural Engineer

URS Corporation

Services Engineer

Hulley & Kirkwood

Quantity Surveyor

Gardiner & Theobald

Main Contractor

Sir Robert McAlpine


Although this is, from the point of view of the structure of the deal, clearly a "commercial" building, it is being judged as a Corporate Workplace because it is a good example of the growing trend for clients who know what they want and developers who know how to deliver it working together. Done well this can, as here, produce a product which, although tailored to suit the first occupier, remains a tradeable asset.

It is also worth saying that, in its earlier years, the BCO Awards scheme used to distinguish between public and private sector buildings. It no longer does so, and this building, although designed against the market rent, is testament to the fact that the working environments that the private sector aspires to are every bit as necessary and appropriate for public agencies.

Flexibility, openness and light, together with something to lift the spirits, are shared needs - and they are well illustrated in BDP's design for Bellhouse Joseph and Scottish Enterprise.

The building opens itself up to view as soon as one steps in from the street, with the office floors open to a central atrium, in the base of which are a restaurant and coffee bar - with, at the time of the judges' visit, virtually every table of the coffee bar occupied by people meeting, in a less formal setting. For a building that receives 35,000 visitors a year this is particularly appropriate.

Further life is given to the atrium by the introduction of panoramic lifts and a full-height open staircase - "vertical street", which also encourages communication between floors, resisting the tendency for each to become a silo.

The building is almost entirely open plan, with a majority of unassigned workplaces, and with a user-friendly touch screen system for the electronic booking a variety of work settings and meeting rooms, including touchdown areas, hot desks, carrels, and areas set aside for teamworking.

The south elevation is conceived as a large window, shaded for solar control but giving most occupants a view of the Clyde.


Winner South of England / South Wales Region - Sponsored by Francis Graves Ltd
Pfizer UK Headquarters, Walton Oaks, Surrey

Client

Pfizer Ltd

Project Manager

Symonds Group

Architect

Sheppard Robson

Structural & Services Engineer

Arup

Feature Lighting Design

Equation Lighting Design

Landscape Architect

Derek Lovejoy Partnership

Quantity Surveyor

Franklin & Andrews

Main Contractor

Laing


The new Pfizer headquarters at Walton Oaks could perhaps fairly be described as a "big idea" building. Built in the park-like setting of the grounds of a former country mansion, the office wings are splayed like the fingers of a hand to enjoy views out over the grounds and well landscaped areas between them. The palm of this hand is then the big idea - a galleried atrium, or "street", which opens virtually all of the building up to view almost from the moment of entering, and which links together the office wings.

The support facilities (restaurant, deli bar, fitness centre, meeting rooms and casual seating areas) are then either placed within the atrium or are accessed directly from it. This provides a sense of drama and theatre to the building, whilst at the same time making it highly legible to visitors and new arrivals.

Unusually, Pfizer has made a conscious decision to increase proportion of cellular offices to ensure privacy and support its performance management programme, providing additional locations for meetings to reduce the level of noise and disruption to the open plan areas, and providing quiet rooms for tasks requiring particular concentration. The conscious decision was also made not to "hotel" space, although there are hot desks for visitors from other Pfizer locations who are welcome to drop in and work from here, wherever there might be based. Staff are therefore encouraged to use different areas of the building to work or to hold meetings.

As with so many building moves, the relocations were seen as an opportunity to change culture to one of face-to-face communication and teamworking, breaking down departmental barriers and creating an environment where discussion, challenge and quick decision making are facilitated and rewarded.


Winner London (within M25) Region - Sponsored by Francis Graves Ltd
Merrill Lynch Financial Centre, 2 King Edward Street, London EC1

Client

Merrill Lynch Europe PLC

Project Manager & Quantity Surveyor

Gardiner & Theobald

Architect

Swanke Hayden Connell

Structural and Services Engineer

Arup

Construction Manager

Mace Limited


Having a major City force as owner occupier may help, but it is still a formidable challenge to fit 850,000 square feet of accommodation onto a site in the historic core of the City - with the need to protect an area that had to remain undeveloped (possibly the only piece of land within the city which has not been built upon at any time in its history), a section of the Roman Wall, and a 13th century bastion.

At the heart of the development are the trading floors - the lifeblood of such a financial services business, and the space requirements of which tend to lead to the contemporary "groundscraper". The main building is, indeed, big (the trading from being two of the largest in Europe) - but with new routes through the site, the preservation and restoration of a number of listed buildings, and the overall handling of the composition of the buildings, the space sits well within the Conservation Area, and makes a real contribution to the public realm.

Within the building, the trading floors, in contrast to the usual "sealed" nature of dealing space, have tall windows along both long sides of the floors, providing natural light and contact with the outside world, as a reminder that there is a life beyond the screen.

The layouts within the office areas are predominantly open plan, with space allocation determined by job function not job title; and clearly separated from the offices, both functionally and spatially, there is a range of staff amenities, including a fitness centre, health centre shop, and restaurant.

Merrill Lynch's view is that the decision to own and occupy their own premises has reaped enormous savings in occupation costs; allows for flexibility in real estate and financial planning; and has created an environment in which there is greater staff communication, increased productivity, and higher morale. As so many businesses now recognise, the building is therefore an instrument of culture - breaking down barriers (between departments, increasing staff retention and assisting in recruitment.

In the words of Merrill Lynch's Chief Executive "Everybody loves the building. We commissioned a facility to bring together our various business functions, but the team has achieved much more. They have created a home"