Boston Public Schools (BPS)—the oldest school department in the US—recently moved into their new offices at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building. Our interior design for their transitional office at City Hall, completed in preparation for this move, features many elements that facilitate a more open and collaborative work environment.
Less than ten percent of the staff is housed in private offices, with the majority of the space in open workspaces so that colleagues have visual access to one another. Hard wall spaces such as offices and conference rooms are positioned so that they don’t block access to the windows, providing everyone with views and natural light. In addition to reservable conference rooms and team rooms, staff can meet and work together in open areas adjacent to the workspace, in pantries, and at shared counters along the windows. The space also has numerous small rooms for private phone calls or one-on-one meetings.
Creating prototypes is one of our many strategies for facilitating change. For the BPS, we were able to take over Room 709 in City Hall to demonstrate the principles of today’s workplace and to gain feedback from city employees, which would then be used in the design of the furnishings at the Bruce C. Bolling Building. Thirty-two open, 6x8-foot workstations are configured in a variety of ways, and arranged at the perimeter of the room with views of downtown. There are two phone rooms, one conference room, two open collaboration areas—and only two private offices. The iconic City Hall concrete ceilings are illuminated with fixtures that cast light up into the latticework, creating a much softer ambient light and overall feel.
The renovation of Room 709 is a permanent addition to City Hall, currently serving the city’s Environmental Department.