A Focus on Tenant Comfort

A Sense of Place

November 27, 2018/Green Building

A Sense of Place

As architects and designers, our firm’s work is centered on elevating the human experience through places that connect, sustain, and inspire. Boulder Commons is exactly this kind of place. As part of a multi-disciplinary design team, we immediately identified with the project’s goals of sustainability, community connection, and cost-effective execution – the “triple bottom line”.  While sustainable strategies including a net-zero goal are defining characteristics for the project, we began with the premise that sustainability features don’t necessarily need to be obvious when experiencing the inside of the buildings. Clearly, a solar-panel clad façade signals that Boulder Commonsis special, but the interiors are designed to be much more than a showcase for sustainable construction. First and foremost, we wanted to create a comfortable and inspiring place for tenants, as well as a connection point to the local community. A place with meaning.

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Connection to Site and Community

The interior planning approach was driven by the buildings’ surroundings. The strategic placement of interior spaces takes advantage of the building’s views, especially towards natural environments like the Flatirons.  The narrow floor plates, more typically found in European buildings, ensure that office occupants are never seated far from a window. To further optimize exposure to daylight for everyone, the interior office layouts generally aggregate enclosed rooms towards the building core. Using natural light not only conserves energy but is more comfortable for the user.

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An enhanced connection to outdoor spaces like roof decks and plazas was purposefully executed through careful material transitions between interior and exterior environments, and by placing break rooms and meeting areas near openings to the outside. Emphasizing the relationship to a building’s site provides tenants and visitors with a clear sense of place. And it just feels great to get some sun and air during your workday.

The configuration of the building’s common areas promotes the idea of connection and transparency. The transit-friendly design of the development creates a pedestrian-focused experience. At the plaza level, expansive glass retail storefronts are extended further inside the buildings where they provide the visitor with a visual connection to meeting spaces and entry lobbies. These spaces regularly play host to events and art exhibits – a way to involve the community.

Focus on Wellbeing

Interior finishes for Boulder Commonsare comprised of simple and honest materials, largely from renewable and regional resources. In tenant spaces, local beetle-kill pine boards are used as decorative wall paneling, not to make an environmental statement but because we liked the unique patterns in the material. The color palette is restrained to natural tones that echo the regional landscape. While the design purposefully leaves some of the raw building finishes like the ceiling decks exposed, softer materials including carpet and absorptive wall- and ceiling tiles are added in key areas to ensure acoustical comfort.  Strategies like avoiding toxins in construction materials, providing clean air and water, and paying attention to light and noise levels may seem obvious, but people are often surprised that these aren’t necessarily all part of building codes yet.  We employed these practices in the design of interior spaces with a focus on user comfort and wellbeing, but ultimately, they blend into the background rather than being obvious. You just somehow feel that you are in a “good” environment. To us this level of comfort defines a successful project, and we hope tenants and visitors will have meaningful experiences at Boulder Commons.

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Sascha Wagner is President and CEO of Huntsman Architectural Group, an integrated design firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, focused on creating places that connect, sustain, and inspire.

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