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.