Project Wrap Up

Several projects I’ve helped on since joining PDR in August 2011 are wrapping up over the next few weeks. While I can’t share every picture of every project, I thought I’d post a few images to give an idea of the type of work I do. But first, let me give an introduction to PDR and how I came to work there.

You can read the in depth version of how I arrived at PDR, but long story short, I was unemployed for 13 months before starting at this great company. PDR stands for Planning Design Research, and it was founded in 1977. The company focuses on corporate interior architecture, which means we design workplaces for companies around the world. Not only do we help establish the look and feel for the offices where people like you and I spend the majority of our time, we also provide services to help transition employees from one office to another. This usually entails adjusting from one type of workspace to something very different. For example, many of our clients come to us as they transition from closed offices or cubicle environments to open-plan and low profile workstation settings. The selections we make regarding furniture, finishes and fixtures all have a big impact on how people are able to communicate, relate to one another and ultimate, how they get work done.

PDR stands out from other architecture and design companies in several ways. Not only do we focus on interior projects (compared to ground up construction), we have very broad range of expertise. Our company is made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds, including psychologists, business managers, sales representatives, graphic designers, interior designers, architects and more. People are hired not to fill a specific role, but rather for their aptitude and ability to adapt in multiple situations. It is very different from other places I’ve worked in that even new employees are thrown into the mix immediately: meeting with clients, leading presentations and running construction administration are all fair game. Perhaps the best part of PDR is that they believe in their employees and they allow us to grow.

Part of my growing experience so far has taken me through a series of projects, including my first ‘start to finish’ endeavor. I’ve done a fair share of design work, construction drawings and dabbled in construction administration, but it had been piece-meal across multiple projects and firms. After working at PDR for about 3 months, I was asked to help out on a small training center project, from start to finish. It was a great way to get my feet wet on the back end of the process, as it consists of two large training rooms and a break area; nothing overwhelming but large enough to have decision making capabilities. Since most of our projects tend to be small relative to ground up construction, it is typical for us to be involved on many different projects at one time – sometimes only 1 or 2 people will be on a single project.

The project began with taking basic measurements and ‘field verifying’ the existing space. Since all of the interior walls, ceiling and floor coverings were going to be removed, it was an easy process.

Existing Conditions - Exterior (Public Corridor)
Existing Conditions – Exterior (Public Corridor)
Existing Conditions - Interior (Tenant Space)
Existing Conditions – Interior (Tenant Space)

After we decided on the space plan (what the floor plan would look like), it was time to select materials. Having come from the architecture side of the industry, selecting finishes is something we don’t often do in large firms – it is usually left to the interior design department. I would say there is a bias against interior designers, or at least a discounting of their work among architects. After going through the process of selecting materials like carpet, tile, millwork finishes, counters, back splash, furniture, paint, wall coverings, light fixtures, hardware, plumbing fixtures, etc. etc. I can really appreciate the work that interior designers do. It can be overwhelming with where to start in the mix, much less keep up with the amount of information, paperwork and product representatives.

Presenting a palette of materials to a client can be daunting when you face a much more subjective audience. Some people just don’t like red or blue, throwing off your entire design concept, and putting you back at square one. It can be especially difficult when ‘the client’ consists of several decision makers and they all have an idea of what they want to see in the space. Luckily we had several options to choose from and one of them was a hit. We settled on the ‘blue’ scheme, which included brightly colored carpet to liven up the feel of the rooms.

Material Selections
Material Selections
Carpet Design
Carpet Design

Once all of the materials were finalized and the drawings were sent out, the demolition began. Walls started going back up, and very quickly our ideas started to take shape. The flood of submittals began (the process known as construction administration includes getting samples of every material you select so that you can verify it is the correct color/texture/product, etc.) and I got a good feel for how my drawings affected the outcome of construction.

Ceiling Diffuser
Ceiling Diffuser
Break Area
Break Area

Furniture began arriving, and the finishing touches are being added before opening the space to employees. Overall I’m happy with the results, and the client is pleased as well.

Entry Corridor
Entry Corridor
"Think" Chairs
“Think” Chairs

There are still some items that need to be completed, but this is generally how it will look for visitors to the space. It was a great project to start on, and it is exciting to see a project materialize so quickly (a matter of months!).

Small Training Room
Small Training Room
View from back of room
View from back of room



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  • Bfester

    Great job!

  • leeCALISTI

    Brinn, I love the carpet and entry. This is a great example to show how a small project can get a big design response with a small budget and…of course, an architect. I wish the magazines (print or digital) would show more of this. Nice.

    • Thanks, Lee. It was definitely the type of project you don’t see often in magazines. Simple design decisions like adding a custom pattern to the carpet, or doing a single accent wall can give a project some ‘punch’. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I love the material choices! Makes the space feel very professional and clean cut