We moved into our new offices at 68 Middle Street almost 6 weeks ago now. I’ve been reflecting on the scheme, both from a design point of view and project management.
I’ll start with the design - what worked and what didn’t? We specified a space that we wanted to work flexibility - for us, our client work, our tenants and people hiring the rentable spaces . So the areas need to work hard and a few times I think we jumped the wrong way. There are never enough whiteboards, ever, for Clearleft, but we didn’t go as far as we should have done (cue “I told you so” from some of our number :-). More cupboard space in the kitchens also wouldn’t have gone amiss.
We love the roof terrace, and are looking forward to putting in our fabled climbing wall in the spring. And the double height atrium, which joins our two main office floors, is helping to ease our transition from a small to a medium-sized company feel. We may have people working further away, but we can still see them and shout a hello.
On the project management side, I was surprised by how the various building trades sometimes passed the buck when things didn’t go according to plan. So the notable examples of those who didn’t really stood out. Levitt Construction and Cobbs Electrical really wanted to do a great job and went the extra mile to deliver a quality finish, as did Languard Alarms .
It’s a very silo’d industry, with less communication between the trades and contractors than I expected. On an IT project, the various firms seem keen to work together to deliver a great project for the client. Whilst we all need to protect our contractual position, there seems to be a good culture of excellence, knowledge sharing and delighting the client in IT.
Perhaps this is because IT and in particular digital design is a very small industry, so we live or die by our reputation. The building industry seems much more driven by price and vulnerable to the ups and downs of the wider economy.
But problem solving skills are a strong point in both industries. I’ve been really impressed by the way that the unexpected issues that inevitably crop up in an old building have been dealt with largely by everyone thinking on their toes, with great design leadership by Landivar Architects .
It’s been a great eight months, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it.