With an open plan and light filled design catlins new offices are a thoroughly modern work environment.
By Terceira Quarterly & Associates
A “mind-blowing attention to detail” caught one judge’s attention as the judging team toured Catlin’s new office in Washington House, a major upgrade on the company’s previous premises that offers additional private meeting space, conference space and open-plan office capacity. “It’s hard to get excited about office space, but this really was pretty exciting,” enthused another judge.
The team of judges liked the organic intensity of the design and the combination of well-coordinated detail throughout, especially the blend of materials, such as avodire panels and bamboo flooring with touches of onyx, and the diplomatic use of textured-glass panels. They described the unique custom carpets as “exquisite,” providing an “overriding feeling of comfort.”
The reception area gained extra points for its blend of function and appeal, especially the custom light fixture above the concrete desk.
The flow through the entire office complex received good marks, and the judges loved the “fantastic” staff lunchroom.
The main office floor with open plan and free-form desks was appreciated, but judges observed that it would be easy for clutter to disrupt the clean lines. The unique boardroom table was much admired with its unusual permutations of height and shape, offering a multitude of meeting possibilities.
The boardroom is set up with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology. The avodire table, which seats 20, was custom designed. While it appears solid, the back arc of the table can break away and a smaller centre can pull forward. This is controlled by an automatic jack system, which provides tiered video conferencing. The plasma screens and camera rise up from the custom credenza in front, and all this happens at the touch of a button via the Crestron Audio Visual system. The cream leather Krug chairs are height adjustable.
Judges were observed discreetly leaning over to take a sight line along one of the walls of curved, rippled glass. Designer Caroline Polinski of TQ included the unconventional glass panels to provide both light and privacy in an attractive manner. “The curved glass was a custom design that I came up with to mimic the undulating waves of the sea,” she says. “The texture in the glass provides seated privacy and gradually fades up to clear. Each piece required its own mold, and the structure to hold the glass wall in place was completely custom designed. The glass is also lit from behind so that the rippled pattern is cast onto the reception floor, providing the sense of walking on water.”
“Bermuda is Catlin’s head office,” she says, “so we wanted to incorporate the feel of the island in the space. We used lots of warm tones and blues reminiscent of Bermuda waters and beaches. The custom textured glass provides an organic feel.”
Catlin was looking for lots of natural light, and the hollow square layout of the office space provided that, with the central atrium permitting light from four quarters. Light also streams in from all points of the compass via the wraparound balcony. The designer points out that Catlin recognized the importance of natural light and open-plan offices to the modern work environment, as light has been shown to enhance employee productivity and promote teamwork.
The carpets much admired by the judges were made in Thailand by LHD Tapis, which specializes in custom-designed carpets. The company reproduced Polinski’s design, which uses texture and colour to bring out the glowing tones of Bermuda sea and sky. “I designed the custom carpets in the boardroom, reception area and guest lounge based on the tranquil blues and organic movements of Bermuda’s beautiful sea,” she says. “The carpet is framed by the bamboo floor, which is reminiscent of our sandy beaches, creating a warm and tranquil feel.”
While the new Catlin space is not formally a “green” office, it is certainly environmentally conscious. Woods used throughout in flooring and panelling are not endangered. Furthermore, the counter in the lunchroom was made from recycled glass by Vetrazzo of California. “The glass comes from demolished office buildings,” Polinski says, “and we are given the details on the specific building it derives from, creating a nice personal touch.” She selected shades of blue and green, once again picking the theme colours of Bermuda. The kitchen serves as a spacious staff lunchroom, but it also has the capability to provide catering space for major in-house functions.
The designer considered sound as well as light, and she installed acoustic panels throughout the building. “This helps with sound absorption between rooms,” notes Polinski. “This is especially important in the case of the boardroom.” The Hunter Douglas tiles she used have a significant noise-reduction rating, and they are neutral as well as efficient.
The extensive use of glass panelling between offices enhances privacy: at the push of a button, the glass becomes opaque, obscuring the interior but permitting ample light flow.
“Bermuda Interiors was our general contractor, and Dave Jones, our site super, was fantastic,” reports Polinski. “His timely response, attention to detail and ability to provide quick solutions to unforeseen issues during construction was impressive. Sight and Sound provided our audiovisual design and equipment, and they were wonderful to work with. Their installation team was dedicated and a team player throughout the project. Svend Nielsen, who built all of our custom tables, did a wonderful job with their attention to detail and ability to make our deadlines. Convoy Customs, which provided all the custom wood panelling and millwork for the project, were very detail oriented and timely with their schedule. The beautiful space is truly a team effort.”
The designer says they had a year from initial concept design to project completion. “Catlin has been very pleased with the outcome of their space, and the feedback from visitors and staff has been wonderful.”
General Contractor Bermuda Interiors; Electrical Contractor P&M Electrical; HVAC BAC; General Carpet Furniture Flair; Custom Carpet LHD Tapis; Workstations Windward Supplies; Custom Millwork Convoy Customs; Custom Conference Tables Svend Nielsen; Lounge Furniture Diversified Services; Cabling CCS; Custom Glass Joel Berman; Audio Visual Sight N’ Sound; Audio Visual Cabling & Install Switchworx.