Resolving Space Planning Issues: First Base Building

Dan Sherer, architect for TCube Solutions, is resolving space planning issues at First Base building.

When TCube Solutions asked us to help them resolve their space planning issues in the First Base Building, it felt as though they were literally working on top of each other – due to very rapid growth. They were “bursting out at the seams” and needed more space and needed it fast.

The third floor of the First Base Building was chosen for their headquarters, which is a relatively new building to Columbia and adjacent to a new state of the art minor league baseball stadium. For anyone who hasn’t visited yet, let me just say, it’s not like any other office. There is a whole wall of windows that reveals an amazing view of the baseball field. Most important to this vibrant group of innovators is that the location is right in the middle of the city’s new growth center.

My design team has a great relationship with Sandy, who was the co-owner of the original TCube, along with her husband Sam. An energetic, outgoing leader, she expressed a positive outlook on all the ideas we brought to the table. She kept her employees in the loop, most of whom are 35 years old and younger. (The tech industry is so much younger than others!)

The main concept is no assigned seats, but instead long tables and other areas to encourage collaboration are included. They desired an industrial look and wanted the ductwork and structural elements exposed, and not too many walls.  Actually most of the interior and exterior walls are glass, and conference rooms and meeting rooms dot the open plan. With a smaller staff in mind, we designed some private offices.

Sandy and Sam always knew the company would grow, but didn’t realize just how quickly. So when they realized the number of employees would double, within 6 months, we rethought the whole thing. Architecturally, we reduced the number of private enclosed spaces and created an even more open, collaborative environment. While the construction budget decreased, the furniture budget increased.  Double the bodies, meant doubling the seating and workspace required along with increased amenities.

As we considered what kind of furniture would fit the space and accommodate a projected number of 200 employees, McWaters Furniture Group came into the picture. Their solution was to fly us up to Michigan in a private jet to check out the Steelcase Design Center. It turned out their office space operates on a similar open floor plan as to what my clients wanted! The culture of Steelcase is also very similar to TCube Solutions as they are employee-oriented and collaborative as well.

With that in mind, we focused on flow. We couldn’t just slap desks everywhere. Our team gave a lot of thought to relationships, where each department would sit and how they could communicate most effectively. Very few people could have assigned seats; just four groups of four leaders, called project architects, would sit in special spots. The only person who has a private office is the accountant. Not even the CEO has a private office.

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About the author

Dan Sherer

Rock climber, hiker and award winning Architect with over 28 years’ experience on new builds and renovation projects. Expert in Commercial Renovations and winner of multiple awards for Adaptive Reuse/Renovation and Historic Preservation. Residential work has been featured on the cover of two prominent South Carolina magazines.