Oversized portraits of the top innovators and entrepreneurs of our time greet visitors as they enter this business consulting office located in downtown Missoula. By offering advice and financing, this organization helps small businesses turn their passions into progress. When it was our turn to do the same for them, we jumped at the chance. The goals for this remodel of a historic building in the downtown were simple: communicate the organizations mission to visitors walking in the door and improve the staff experience so that they can serve even more people.
This historic building on Missoula’s Front Street was built in 1950 and originally used as a car dealership. There is a lot to love: its massive skylights bring light into the core, the brick façade is ornately detailed, and the original plank wood floor oozes character. An unfortunate remodel in early 2000’s set many of the walls on a 45 degree diagonal to the exterior walls resulting in an inefficient layout filled with awkward corners, poor flow and tight spaces. The kitchen and two single occupant restrooms did not meet current needs of the organization.
Removing the diagonal walls gave the organization more space and allowed for new amenities. The cramped entry vestibule was opened to make room for a generous lobby with a new steel and wood reception desk. The lobby has an urban loft feel with rough wood floors, exposed brick, and raw steel mixed with modern details and lighting. The celebrity entrepreneur portraits are an inspiration to the organization’s clients – local dreamers looking to make their own mark on the world.
Across from the reception area is a new state of the art video conference room. Special care was taken to ensure an even sound throughout the room for a seamless conferencing experience with the numerous remote offices. Pendant speakers distribute audio evenly throughout the space ensuring that sound volume is equal in the front and rear of the room. Ceiling panel clouds disperse sound waves, reducing unwanted reverberation and echo. Wall panels disguised as art and privacy curtains further absorb sound waves and deaden the room. An LED video wall provides a sharp, life-like image of long distance colleagues and allows multiple files to be open and readable at one time. Wall mounted “jump seats” fold down to add extra capacity in a pinch. The jump seats helped us meet the clients need for a 30 person conference room without making it awkwardly large for smaller groups. A more intimate conference room with similar attributes is tucked behind the reception area.
The original entry doors were refinished and reused in the hallway, at the opening to the kitchen. This new kitchen increases food storage and prep space for large, catered meetings, as well as the day-to-day needs of the staff. Additionally, two coffee bars were added in the office space to alleviate congestion in the kitchen. A new steel frame “portal” demarcates the transition from public “front of house” into the “back of house” work zone. The rear portion of the building contains a mix of open and private offices. Relights were used to bring natural light from the existing skylights to all the spaces.