Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System (LACERS) is a critical department within the City of Los Angeles, entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the financial future of the city's civilian employees. LACERS administers comprehensive retirement benefits packages, including service and disability pensions, and survivorship benefits. Established with the core objective of maintaining the well-being of Los Angeles' dedicated workforce post-retirement, LACERS embodies the city's commitment to valuing and supporting its employees throughout and beyond their service tenure.
The primary objectives of LACERS in this venture were multi-fold. Firstly, there was a strategic decision to relocate to a new building, driven by the need for more space and an aspiration to create a more efficient and productive work environment for their dedicated employees. Secondly, LACERS recognized the need to upgrade their current furniture and incorporate ergonomic tools in their workspace. This move was aimed at improving the comfort, well-being, and productivity of the employees. Lastly, they identified a requirement for more touch-down and private meeting spaces. This was with the intent to facilitate better collaboration among teams, preserving privacy when needed, and accommodating a more flexible usage of space within the organization.
Working closely with partners Cushman & Wakefield, project management, and HOK, architectural firm, Unisource Solutions was chosen to provide the necessary furniture solutions for their new space. The project scope was comprehensive, spanning five floors of the new LACERS building. The main floor was designed to house the board room, serving as the central hub for meetings and strategic decision-making. The second to fifth floors were assigned to workstations and private offices, enabling employees to work comfortably and efficiently in a space that catered to their specific needs. The fifth floor was specifically designated for executive offices. The project involved setting up more than 260 workstations, private offices, breakrooms, conference rooms, and employee collaborative areas principally supplied by Haworth and Platform. As part of the project, the entire space was transformed with all new furniture and some architectural interiors, giving the office a fresh and modern appeal.
A vision of versatility, connectivity, and a keen emphasis on natural light drove the design inspiration for the LACERS project. An increased number of touch-down and private spaces were introduced to facilitate private meetings and impromptu collaboration. A significant design feature was integrating the multipurpose and board rooms using folding doors. This innovative design feature allows the rooms to be used together or separately as required, adding flexibility and enhancing the functionality of the space.
The workstations featured 58” high panels for privacy but maintained an open feel using 50” high Compose Panels and 22” high frameless glass stacks. This design feature was crucial in allowing natural light to permeate throughout the workspace, creating an environment that was both energy-efficient and conducive to productivity and well-being. The design successfully merged aesthetic appeal with practical functionality, resulting in a vibrant, light-filled workspace that met LACERS' specific needs.
To further enhance the uniqueness and visual interest of each floor, we collaborated with the architectural firm to assign a distinct color to each level - ranging from calming blues and clean whites to vibrant teals. This not only added an aesthetic element but also served to differentiate each floor, adding a unique identity to each workspace.
During the planning phase, we prioritized understanding the unique needs of the end-users. To achieve this, we developed mockups and placed them within the workspace, inviting employees to provide feedback. This inclusive approach extended to the selection of task chairs. Various designs were presented, and employees were encouraged to test these chairs, focusing on comfort and ergonomic efficiency. This feedback-driven process was instrumental in ensuring that the final workspace design and furniture were tailored to meet the distinct needs of the LACERS team, ultimately contributing to a more productive and comfortable environment.
Aligning construction and manufacturing schedules posed a significant challenge. Construction timelines and furniture production often run on different schedules, which can lead to potential delays if not managed carefully. To address this challenge, we implemented a meticulous planning process and maintained constant communication with all parties involved. This allowed us to foresee any potential delays in furniture delivery and respond proactively, ensuring timely installation. In instances where product delays were inevitable, alternative solutions were implemented. These included prioritizing the delivery and installation of essential pieces to keep the project on track. Through proactive planning and efficient problem-solving, we successfully navigated the complexities of construction and manufacturing schedules, ensuring timely project completion.
The impact of the project on LACERS' operations has been profound and transformative. With the successful completion of this venture, the organization has experienced a significant boost in productivity and collaboration, brought about by the strategic design and utilization of space. The ergonomic furniture and increased touch-down spaces have not only enhanced employee comfort and well-being but also facilitated more efficient team interactions. The focus on natural light and aesthetic appeal in the design has contributed to creating an engaging and uplifting work environment, resulting in increased job satisfaction among employees. Moreover, the intentional compartmentalization of space, with designated areas for different tasks and levels of privacy, has streamlined operations, ensuring a more effective and seamless workflow. The project has ultimately succeeded in creating a workspace that is equally geared towards functionality, efficiency, and employee satisfaction, strengthening LACERS' operations and setting a new standard for future workspace design projects.