When the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Heartland Region, moved its office in Kansas City, Missouri, it faced unique design challenges. The GSA employs a large workforce, and the majority of employees are not in the office every day due to telework schedules and work-related travel. Meanwhile, as a government agency, the GSA must adhere to specific objectives for efficient spatial planning while encouraging collaboration, openness, and an active work day. The GSA realized it required a balance between efficient planning and the needs for flexibility, natural light and views, and healthy activity.
To meet these objectives, GastingerWalker&, a design firm based in Kansas City and Chicago, partnered with Kansas City-based SFS Architecture to develop a planning strategy to eliminate most private offices and to prioritize, instead, smaller, unassigned, flexible workstations. The reduction in individual spaces, made possible by the digital nature of work today, created the opportunity for more generous shared spaces such as conference rooms and collaborative areas. In addition, a "hoteling" system gives employees choice over where and how to work depending on the needs of a particular day and time.
Working with Spaces, Inc., a Knoll dealer, the team designed 600 free address stations and 50 hotel stations with approximately 655 primary seats (Generation by Knoll®), using Dividends Horizon® Worksurfaces and AutoStrada legs. To keep the workstations open and allow wide access to natural light and views, the team selected Antenna® Fence–a low profile option– with up-mounted storage and screens. To encourage a sense of community, the design team broke the work areas into 'neighborhoods' loosely assigned to a division, while keeping desks unassigned. Color was used for wayfinding and spatial definition. Universal Height-Adjustable Tables were selected to support physical activity and personalized adjustability throughout the day.
Some individualized storage was necessary that could flexibly accommodate multiple users with unassigned workspaces. The team selected AnchorTM and Series 2TM Pedestals, the former for its digital keylock, the latter for mobility.
The team placed many shared and collaborative spaces at the building perimeter, attracting employees with natural light and panoramic city views. Huddle and phone rooms, equipped with power support, are scattered throughout, permitting focused and private work. Break areas are located between departments, becoming gathering spaces. To a similar end, the team strategically positioned conference rooms, which use MultiGeneration by Knoll® side seating, in areas of high visibility to outside agencies.
The GSA achieved its explicit objectives to reduce its national utilization rate (136 square-feet per person) while also meeting other more nuanced challenges. Employees report greater satisfaction due to the transparency and openness of the space and the ease with which casual interactions and planned collaborations occur. The mobile work philosophy, aided by unassigned workstations, has also been well-received.