A highly regarded national multi-service architectural and engineering design firm, Bergmann Associates has been serving commercial, institutional, governmental, educational, and retail clients across the country for more than 35 years. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, the firm employs more than 400 architects, engineers, planners, interior designers, landscape architects, programmers, developers, surveyors, 3D design specialists and administrative personnel in 12 offices in the U.S.
Despite the 1990s economic decline that began to hit the Rust Belt, including Rochester, Bergmann has always been committed to maintaining its presence in the downtown area. So when the 180 employees in its Rochester headquarters outgrew their existing office, the firm took a leading role in the city’s current resurgence by relocating to the newly remodeled Tower280 in the heart of the downtown area. “It’s on the former site of Midtown Plaza, which was the first downtown indoor mall in the U.S.,” says Bergmann interior designer Suzanne Lefebvre. “Fortunately, it has been redeveloped as a live-work-play environment to attract and retain a population that not only works, but also lives downtown.” And with the timing of the development aligning with their plans to make a move, Bergmann jumped at the opportunity to remain a historical anchor in the city by becoming the first commercial tenant in the new facility.
Bergmann occupies 60,000 square feet on one full floor of the building. The office was designed by its own in-house team. This allowed the firm to not only respond to the multifaceted needs of its various employees, but also to distinguish itself as leader in its field to its clients with spaces that underscore its progressive and forward-thinking approach to design and engineering. With a diverse set of professionals spanning several generations—from Millennials to Boomers—all with different workspace requirements, the designers wanted to create a space that would “be modern and inspiring to both new and old employees while showcasing our design skills and talent,” says Lefebvre. “The overall concept of the space revolved around the idea of ‘agility’ and making sure all of the employees could work in the way that best suits their work needs at any given time,” she explains. “We also wanted to create more of a social aspect in our work environment.”
Ultimately, the new space was designed to allow opportunities for choice and autonomy within an array of work areas. There are spaces offering access to technology and natural light, including areas that enable points of connection and spontaneous collaboration, as well as spaces for focused concentration. Since Bergmann was also aiming for LEED silver certification with this project, specifying furniture that would meet key environmental criteria was essential.
Teknion collaborated with Bergmann’s designers to offer a wide range of products to suit their new workplace needs. “The ability to come up with thoughtful solutions that would respond to their design objectives as well as their budget and short timeframe set Teknion apart in the bidding process and enabled the company to participate in almost every aspect of the overall design,” says Teknion’s regional manager Matt Skinner. “The fact that we could seamlessly provide products that would enable them to achieve LEED status without increasing costs was an added plus,” he adds.
The spatial components of the workspace include 168 open workstations with eight different typical footprints to address different work requirements; ten enclosed offices; meeting spaces including six conference rooms, four huddle rooms, and a training room; five phone booths for privacy; collaborative areas with high- and low-top tables; lounges with soft seating; and a “Think Tank,” where groups can come together to prepare for proposals, strategize, and work with the other regional offices via video conferencing. At the heart of these work areas is a “work cafe,” which has become the centerpiece of the office and gives the employees, clients, and guests a collective place in which to eat, have casual meetings, or just take a break from their day. “It is flanked by two glass conference rooms that can open up and become part of the work cafe for larger gatherings or be used separately as enclosed conference spaces for private meetings,” says Lefebvre. The flexible seating in the work cafe area, including Ability tables from Teknion, enable the space to function effectively for either use.
In the workstation areas, a mix of Teknion components enable the spaces to function effectively for different footprints with varying storage elements, while remaining flexible for collaborations. “The biggest challenge was designing and customizing eight different workstation typicals that facilitated the unique work of each department, yet cohesively worked within the design,” says Lefebvre. “Our dealer and Teknion were able to advise the best solution to maximize our budget by guiding us on where we would benefit with timeless pieces and gain the best flexibility to stretch our dollar.”
Among the elements that were mixed and matched to create the spaces are 42-inch Leverage white metal panels topped with 15-inch add-on panels upholstered with Teknion’s Rationale fabric to create enclosures that respond to the client’s 57" height requirements. “Teknion wasn’t on the original bid because it doesn’t offer panels in the 57" height specified by the client for the workstation panels,” says Marj Cunningham, owner of Genesee Office Interiors, the dealer on the project. “But we figured if we could combine a 42" panel with a 15" add-on, we could meet the spec without specials—and the client liked the metal panels for their aesthetics, ease of maintenance and low cost,” she adds, noting that the ability to meet the design criteria and stay on budget resulted in being awarded this part of the project. “The low panel systems with seated privacy offer daylight to the employees while giving each person enough space and storage for their work,” says Lefebvre. “The individual workstation size went down slightly, but what was gained were more flexible spaces and areas where shared creativity, problem solving, and private focused work can now take place.” Other Teknion products fitting out the workstations include Leverage work surfaces, District open overhead storage, Ledger mobile pedestals—some topped with cushions to double as guest seating—and Expansion mobile tables that can be used as a worksurface or moved around to function as a meeting table..
In addition, Teknion’s Expansion casegoods with tack boards and Walnut Cathedral Grain laminate surfaces allow for various configurations within the ten enclosed offices. “The open-frame leg on the worksurface was important to the client because it elevates the overall design,” says Cunningham, who adds that details like the rectilinear handles and light shelf on the wall panel were extra bonuses valued by the client for contributing to both function and aesthetics. Here, as in the workstations, Projek task chairs complete the furniture package in the focused work areas, which were specified with sustainability in mind. “The project is attempting LEED certification, so furniture and materials were required to be FSC®-certified, low VOC, and have recycled content,” says Lefebvre. “A major plus was that Teknion’s manufacturing was within our region and under the 500-mile radius to our office.”
To support impromptu meetings outside the enclosed offices and in halls near the workstations, standing-height tables made with Teknion’s Expansion tops and District legs (or legs reused from Bergmann’s original furnishings) combined with its Zone stools to enable quick conversations nearby and encourage healthy sit-to-stand movement throughout the day. “We also had to keep in mind that we had to offer working areas for our regional offices and staff consultants when they came to our headquarters,” says Lefebvre. “At any time, our office can go from 180 to 210 people in a day, so we needed to provide visitor stations and areas in the collaborative spaces where people can touchdown and plug in quickly.” Teknion’s Thesis tables in the open circulation spaces between workstation areas as well as Teknion’s Ledger lateral storage towers topped with Expansion laminate tops serve the same function. “We’ve found that standing meetings go much faster,” adds Lefebvre.
Further supporting the designers’ ergonomic and sit-to-stand objectives throughout are Teknion’s Variable chairs with flexible backs in the training room, along with Expansion mobile training tables that can be ganged and reconfigured in different formats for various uses. And in work areas where sit-to-stand workspaces were required, the team relied on Teknion’s hiSpace products to address the client’s needs. “Teknion’s hiSpace height-adjustable tables were placed in workstations where employees have a doctor’s prescription for sit/stand working—they were chosen for the price point and because they allowed for all the finishes to match within the workstations,” says Cunningham. “During the selection phase, we reviewed the various sit/stand options available—and the hiSpace also allows the monitor and paperwork to all rise together allowing for best function,” she adds. “For the as-needed change-outs going forward, we will remove the existing 24"x60" or 24"x66" worksurface and one pair of corner brackets and put the new hiSpace in its place.”
A broad range of Teknion’s Studio TK products were also used throughout to give the space the most style bang for the buck in the reception lobby and various breakout areas and client spaces. “By having such a large mix of Teknion furniture we were able to leverage our budget and offer flexible workstations and collaborative spaces while having Studio TK pieces in our lobby and lounge areas,” says Lefebvre. In the lobby, for example, Cover chairs, upholstered in a red COM fabric, are paired with a Masalla table and Spectrum sofa, upholstered in Luum’s Line Language fabric, to create a seating area with inviting, residential appeal. In a breakout area in the workspace, on the other hand, a pair of Infinito sofas, upholstered in two tones of Luum felt fabric, are set off by an upStage bookshelf, which doubles as a space divider and adds a splash of style with components made of red and pecan laminate. Similarly in other breakout spaces, cocoon-like high- and low-back Fractals chairs provide touches of privacy and a place for an impromptu chat. Other design-savvy elements include an Audience credenza, with an upscale look and optional hidden waste bin in a glass-enclosed conference room and an Envita glass-top side table in an executive suite. And in a marketing room, where presentations are made to clients, a collection of standard and custom DNA sofas and an ottoman combined with a few DNA laptop tables and an Expansion credenza beneath wall-mounted television screens, to provide comfort and function with style and flair.
Since Bergmann moved into its new space, the offices are working as planned and employee productivity and satisfaction has been elevated to a new level. “As any project, we had changes that we had to make up until the installation weeks and our dealer was able to take our requests without any struggle and offered quick turnaround on the solutions so we lost no time and money and on move-in day the employees were ready to walk in and go to work,” says Lefebvre. “This is really a change in culture from where the employees came from,” says Cunningham. “And to walk through with an installer after it was complete and see the furnishings work as they were intended was really fun.”