As architects, we get to make contributions to community. Sometimes these contributions are significant and sometimes they are small, but hopefully all of our structures add to people’s lives in a positive way. The projects that stand out most in our hearts are the ones that give us the opportunity to rebuild, rethink the way we build and improve the communities we build for. We call them passion projects.
Ego Hr. on jonestown rd. A fresh place to recharge and re-coif
OPPORTUNITY A few decades ago, COG Principal Michael Corcoran regularly flexed his creative muscles designing hair salons – a passion project a far cry from our typical work in multi-family and senior living housing. About the same time, entrepreneur and hair-industry mogul Anna Smith opened her first salon in Winston-Salem – Ego Hr. – forever changing the way North Carolinian women approached modern beauty and self-care. It was fate that Michael and Anna should meet; and it sparked a creative union that has produced one of our very favorite non-housing projects: Ego Hr. on Jonestown Road.
DESIGN PROCESS Anna is a savvy business owner with a strong vision, so design was a happy collaboration, with Michael and project lead Judy Warner-Babb heading up theming and planning of the wide-open salon space for maximum impact and functionality. Originally two 1,100 square foot storefronts, the team combined and opened the space up, ripping out drop ceiling and exposing ductwork to create an open, airy vibe that stretches 20 feet above salon-goers’ heads. A semi-transparent floating ceiling creates a visual plane on which to focus – and place “clouds” of sound-baffling tile and lighting. Clean, white surfaces, shiny chrome details and LED-ringed mirrors add to the warehouse feel, making the salon appear soothing, high-tech, and utterly fresh.
LESSON LEARNED A salon is like a railway station, with high-volume traffic crisscrossing through varying functional zones every minute of operating hours. We configured Ego Hr. on Jonestown Rd. into task-led zones that look and feel different based on their function: low-ceilinged hair-wash stations that are warm and protected; open cutting areas spacious enough for a flurry of scissors and flying hands at work; and tucked away back-of-house niches for laundry, private hair coloring and bathrooms. We then knit the space together so that guests on their way to the color bar wouldn’t collide with techs cleaning stations or vendors delivering supplies. Finished, it facilitates a carefully orchestrated dance conceived to be calming and frictionless rather than frenetic.
5871 Glenridge Drive COG Finds Home
OPPORTUNITY After a series of moves, COG found “home” in late 2017 in a custom buildout at 5871 Glenridge Drive. We shaped suite 200 in the firm’s philosophical image – collaborative, practical, and full of smart details designed to amplify the experience for everyone who enters the space, from designers and partners to interns and clients. The result is an office that represents our coming- of-age and introduction to the southeastern architecture world as a first-class firm creating real, livable and workable spaces for everyday people.
DESIGN PROCESS Drawing inspiration from the suite’s spacious, open layout as well as challenging angles and interesting nooks, we designed an entry approach to give guests a serene “landing pad” in which to pause before entering our home; sought to wow visitors with a dramatic, glass- enclosed main conference room right upon entry; carved out casual meeting spaces and a centerpiece communal kitchen; and worked to give our young professionals both their own personal space and the room to support spontaneous small-group meetings right at their desks. The latter represents a break from today’s trendy, packed-out but wide-open office concepts, and was consciously made to help staff feel comfortable and have some privacy, but still able to collaborate.
LESSON LEARNED Designing for ourselves required a good amount of introspection: How does our team work best? What kind of lighting feels most natural? What should we borrow from our previous office spaces and what should we leave behind? From our moves we had learned a few things about building out a workspace (make sure your IT provider is on board and working on your low-voltage connections long before move-in…ensure your server room is both open enough to cool down the computers and in a secure location…don’t create a situation where the first thing guests see is a big, red fire extinguisher….), but mostly about ourselves as a group—how we work, gather, interact, and make the best of our time together every day, and how a smart space all our own can support great design and meaningful creative collaboration.