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American Chamber of Commerce

Client Objectives
The client was looking to revamp the existing offices in order to impress their board members, convey a message to their visitors and to increase staffing morale and productivity. They wanted to retain the existing building and redesign it in a more flexible way. They needed to increase staff while also optimising their existing space. Improvements to technology were also a key requirement.

There were obstacles with the building given its current condition. The walls needed to be relined, the floors we not levelled. It was evident the cable management had been neglected for years and years. There were numerous different tenants adding to the existing electrical and IT system, with no management or clean up system ever considered. The building had full occupancy from the Chamber’s tenants themselves, to ‘mind the gap’ studios and 2 apartments on the top floor. Working with an existing AND historical building was always going to be problematic but also however rewarding.

I took inspiration from current trends and the historical building itself. The nature of the building was old, but with buckets of potential to be bold and dramatic with beautiful high ceilings, roses and cornices all dying to be enhanced. The client were not afraid of quirky suggestion either, which suited my palate. Scaring the client was not on the cards. There was trust in the initial proposal as I focused on the brief, the client’s brand/logo and current trends. It made sense to take advantage of the pantones used in their new gold symbol in the logo. It was important to retain some subtle brand identity and I found this process rewarding with the finish. With clever use of gold highlighted finished and bold in colours mixed with white and gold furniture, the client was left with a totally American completed project. It was important for me to give the client flexibility so we powered and chased the walls and floor discreetly and offered modular style adjustable furniture. Upgrades to CAT 6 cabling was established throughout and all of the predecessors wiring was decommissioned and removed off site.

Design for construction programme
The programme came with its challenges. The building was completely occupied but we optimised loud and disturbing construction works over the popular weeks in July and August while a lot of staff were on holidays. We protected other tenant’s property and communal spaces. We also delivered a two phase programme. This worked particularly well as it gave the tenants an opportunity to see one completed level of the fit out, which lightened their mood throughout the construction process.

We overcame the challenges by preparing the client for what to expect. We warned the client of unforeseen issues which can arise in a very old building like this one and this led to an understanding whenever issues arose. For example, we discovered a bee hive living in the back of the building between the joists. You just can’t predict (small or large) the unforeseens! It also helped being entirely transparent with the client. We had a good relationship. We were very fair with one another and it made for a truly enjoyable working site. The client told me as we handed over the project that one of their younger staff members had said ‘I finally feel like I’m actually coming to a proper workplace, I’m proud of where I work’

Project Details

Size: 4,000 sq. ft.
Duration: 8 weeks
Team: Barbara Dooley

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