The existing double height lobby space that the design team was challenged with is shown below. Certain historic elements were required to be kept intact to comply with the guidelines for historic tax credits.
The existing double height lobby space prior to the 2018 renovations.
In addition to the lobby space, another constraint that challenged the design team was the existing second floor space that showcased the two original structural beams that were used to hang the printing presses. Working around these lower ceiling obstacles and low heights overall, tasked the design team to develop creative solutions for the Ohio Chamber Of Commerce’s new home.
The second floor office space prior to the 2018 renovations.
Our team’s task:
Prove that the first and second floor office space in the skinny, low-ceilinged Dispatch Building could be transformed into a modern, inspired mix of private offices, collaboration spaces, reception, and meeting rooms.
To start, we sat in focus groups with Chamber employees, gaining insight into what was working in their current space and what wasn’t. “It was nice to listen and understand how they work and why,” says architect Stephanie Hayward. She adds these talks helped inspire the resulting layout, split over two floors, that encourages collaboration—something they lacked in their current office—while also giving employees and guests private spaces to confer.
Chamber Meeting First Floor Pre-Function Area
On the second floor, our team configured the floorplan to include 19 private offices without sacrificing shared workspaces and natural light. Five executive-level offices are positioned at the corners so as not to block light of the gathering spaces along the south side of the building. Internal offices feature glass fronts to enjoy the most natural light possible.
Second Floor Offices
And the large shared kitchen was intentionally placed in the middle to encourage everyone on the Chamber’s team to use it.
Second Floor Break Area
One of the biggest sticking points for the Chamber was having a meeting space on the first floor large enough to hold upwards of 80 people. “This room was kind of the clinch pin,” Stephanie explains. At first glance, the room feels really long and narrow. “We had to prove that this room would work to rent the space. Our team was able to show them the flexibility of the room—how screens would work if divided or not, seating arrangements depending on the style of event.”
Large Event Space
Because the Dispatch Building is on the Historic Register of Places, there were elements of the space that couldn’t be altered, including the feature wall that separates the lobby from the offices. “This was the delineating wall from the factory part of the printing area and the front of house,” Stephanie says. “We had to keep 50% of it intact. We worked with the wall, designing it to do what it was meant to—divide the lobby from the offices in the back.” Now it’s a clear divide that nods to the history of the building, and adds to the story of The Chamber’s new office space.
Double Height Lobby Space at Historic Delineating Wall | Photography Credit: Kate Horgan