Ceiling design strategies for engaging office spaces
IA Interior Architects leveraged virtual reality and design support from AIA partner Armstrong Ceiling Solutions to create a custom, captivating 620-square-foot ceiling within a sprawling headquarters building.
A mobile, engaged, and highly motivated workforce is essential to the success of innovative technology firms. As a result, their office environments have become increasingly open and flexible to foster collaboration and socialization, while also enabling them to promote brand identity and retain and attract talent.
When NN Inc., a diversified industrial business, decided to relocate its headquarters to Charlotte, N.C., the company desired an engaging and energetic workplace that balanced the need for private offices with the aesthetics and flexibility required by the modern workforce. IA Interior Architects (IA) and the NN Inc. management team conducted an extensive workplace analysis and a visioning process, resulting in a Mid-Century Modern design.
Within the 60,000-square-foot, multi-level headquarters are several areas that allow for alternative work settings, group meetings, or taking a break for a quick game of ping-pong. Notable and unique spaces include a strategy room, huddle areas, conference rooms, cafes, a fitness center, an auditorium, and a product innovation center. The new corporate offices also incorporate various spaces with high-end finishes and architectural detailing, such as the executive lounge that features a putting green and a show-stopping 620-square-foot ceiling.
Custom ceiling design
To create a visual focus to the exposed structure in the executive lounge space, IA modeled an upscale linear ceiling design—a geometric grid based on a triangular module. The architects then shared their creative concepts with the client using virtual reality, and the NN Inc. leadership team approved the concept.
“While our team had a clear vision of what the ceiling should look like, we needed the support of a manufacturer to help bring the design concept to life on a fast-track schedule,” said IA Associate Designer Lacey Johnson. “To that end, we engaged the You Inspire Solutions Center at Armstrong Ceilings and requested their assistance in creating and building the unique ceiling.”
After reviewing the architect’s virtual reality video, image renderings, and plan, the design team at the You Inspire Solutions Center met with the IA project team and quickly followed up with three different custom ceiling options for creating and capturing the architect’s design intent in a new and unique way.
For the executive lounge space, IA selected MetalWorks Blades – Classics panels with an Effects Walnut Wood Looks finish. The manufacturer precisely cut the custom-made metal panels at the angles required to make triangular modules in the ceiling grid.
The team at IA worked closely with the installation contractor—Acousti Engineering Company of Florida—including preplanning and ongoing coordination.
The process started with the contractor laying out the specialty ceiling on the floor and hanging the suspension wires from the joists. The architect next determined the layout of the light fixtures within the triangular ceiling modules, and the electrician aligned all the electrical systems in the plenum. Other contractors then worked around the ceiling suspension wires to install HVAC ducts, sprinkler systems, and other mechanical components. The entire plenum was then painted black to obscure and blend everything in.
Relying on a pre-painted black grid suspension system supplied by Armstrong Ceilings, the Acousti team installed the specialty ceiling at a height of 9 1/2 feet above the floor. They applied the 1-inch-wide-by-6-inch-high crisscross vertical panels from the inside of the space working outward, attached them to the straight beams with clips, and then screwed into the grid. The length of vertical panels varied depending on the location within the geometric ceiling grid.
“The unique ceiling design had an unusual layout, but all the pre-engineered components went together like a puzzle within two weeks—as all the parts were precisely cut, prelabeled, and numbered,” said Acousti project manager Randall Stockley.
The successful design and installation of the unique custom ceiling—on time and under budget—exemplifies the power of teamwork among designers, engineers, product representatives, and highly skilled contractors. Its engaging look makes a dramatic visual impact in the tailored space and leaves a memorable impression for all who visit the lounge.
“The wood-look feature ceiling in our executive lounge really stands out,” said NN Inc. Special Projects Manager Karl Houdeschell, “and we couldn’t be happier with how everything came together.”
To see more images from this project, click here.
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Armstrong Ceiling Solutions