Office of Joseph Furr Design Studios
This renovated office-building project grew from the need for workspace that would foster creativity and collaboration among landscape architects and design professionals in downtown Baton Rouge. The property at 635 Main Street was renovated from a crowded retail space with little natural light into five expansive light filled studio suites. Originally designed by A. Hayes Town, the building has housed a credit union, a state office building, and most recently, an adult book and video store. Removing many of the existing partition walls provided an open and flexible work environment adaptable to the needs of each tenant. Structural glass walls and windows along the storefront and in the interior studio spaces allow natural light into and visual connectivity between the spaces. Two skylight towers were cut through the center studio roof to allow natural light into this area. The interior design is contemporary and clean with strategic spots of bright colors. The building facade was re-plastered, and painted dark gray providing a dramatic backdrop for the new bougainvillea and jasmine covered cable espalier. Additional planting space was carved out of the existing sidewalk and planted with “jewel-box” like plantings. These plantings provide a bright spot in an otherwise featureless streetscape. A new glass storefront improves the visual connectivity to the street while also provides additional natural light into the interior spaces during the day and overflow lighting onto the street at night. The new glass and stainless steel awning also adds visual appeal to the street. Sharing common areas, including a kitchen, mailroom, restrooms, conference room, saves overhead cost for each of the tenants while at the same time fosters creativity and collaboration.
This project exhibits the benefits of collaborative creative space for design professionals and because of its location contributes to the overall redevelopment of the downtown Baton Rouge. By creatively maximizing and sharing space, five offices are able to reduce their overall environmental footprint and benefit from the concentration of food services, cultural institutions and other business related services all within short walking distance of the 635 Main Street Studios. Renovating the building from its former use and building a creative space for collaborative design oriented companies has been a tremendous success. The synergy between the firms has developed within the shared space with several joint ventures having been formed. Possibly more valuable but less quantifiable are the day-to-day interactions and informal “water cooler” discussions that occur among the professionals.
ROLE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT:
The landscape architect designed the layout of spaces, all structural improvements and specified all materials and finishes. The landscape architect also designed the modifications to the front facade including the expanded planting area.