Etica Group Office Design Charrette  

The thought process behind the design of our new office.

March 8, 2022
Don Higgins

We sat down with Don Higgins AIA, to talk about how our architectural team collaborated to design our new office once the lease was signed.

How did the Etica Group architectural team start the project?

Our architectural team spent a morning at the new space with coffee and donuts to have a design charette. We walked the raw space beforehand. We worked on folding tables and hung documents on the walls. We worked in groups of two. Each group took a different space in the office to focus our design ideas. We spent two hours developing our key design components and presented our concepts to the full team. We had group discussions and conversations to refine the concepts for each of the spaces.

We came out with a configuration of workstations, collaboration spaces and private conference areas. We focused on our main interaction spaces. We started to call them the “Welcome Hub” and “Social Hub.” Also, we wanted to ensure there were private individual places to work other than your desk. We wanted to provide people with options.

We also visited furniture dealers to explore their show rooms. This sparked ideas of what the spaces could look like and be. It helped bring our vision to reality.


Did you develop project goals? What were they?

Based on staff input from previous surveys, we developed the following goals:

  1. Keep it open
  2. Maintain views to the windows
  3. Maintain sight lines throughout the office (the office is a “W” shape and we wanted to make sure it felt like one office with sight lines)
  4. Flexibility of workspaces


What are some of the unique spaces?

There are so many I’m not sure where to start, but I think the most unique are the Welcome Hub, Social Hub and our Workstations.

Welcome Hub (Lobby)

We all had unique ideas for the Welcome Hub. The design charrette allowed us to synthesize our contributions for specific features and ultimately develop one cohesive space.

Social Hub

The Social Hub is right in the middle of everything. You can see the Welcome Hub and all the way to the back of the work areas, but easily grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen. It has a nice central space with booth seating areas with high dividers. Between the Social Hub and Welcome Hub is a casual seating area with a fireplace that will be a great amenity.


I’m most excited about my desk. We have a nice collaborative group arrangement with views out of the windows and large layout spaces. Between the individual workstations are high-top tables to layout documents and collaborate as a group, without having to crowd in at someone’s desk. Our workstations will be larger than we have currently and will now have the added collaboration space. I’m excited for that.

Vegetative Walls

There are two vegetative walls. One is in the Welcome Hub behind the reception desk, greeting people as they enter the office. The other is between the Social Hub and primary open workstations. It will be a nice touch of greenery in the office. They are self-contained, self-watering systems where we plan to grow herbs, vegetables, and other plants.


What piece of design advice do you have for an organization needing to renovate or build new offices?

Include everyone from the beginning and throughout. I was nervous about how many ‘cooks were in the kitchen’ but it really enhanced the design and generated new ideas.

Working on an expedited schedule was a challenge. The input of the group allowed others to see and add things that might have been missed.

Remember to be flexible with your concepts so you can modify and mold the details as you further develop and finalize the design.

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