ELEMENTS Discovery Center
Best Project, Renovation/Restoration

Owner: Workplace ELEMENTS LLC
Lead Design Firm: Workplace ELEMENTS LLC; Slant Design
General Contractor: Provident Construction Co.

During its 77 years, the ELEMENTS Discovery Center has been used for shipping consolidation, professional basketball practice and boat storage. Turning it into a first-class office-furniture showroom was a major undertaking. Walls and floors weren’t level, and there were lots of quirks in the building. The project also had to work side by side with ELEMENTS’ daily business. The result is a lively display room for the firm’s innovative office furniture.

The $4-million, 32,000-sq-ft project allows ELEMENTS to display 150 of the best-selling pieces from 50 different manufacturers. Included are furnishings, flooring, ceilings, walls, technology and artwork. The expansion of the office, meanwhile, houses all operations of the 104-person company.

Because business didn’t stop during remodeling, people and computer equipment continually had to be moved as the project progressed. The company was poised and ready to deal with the disruptions because, after all, shifting things around offices is what it does for a living.

Crews power-washed the ceilings and sandblasted the brick, which helped bring out the building’s original charm. The work also exposed black iron trusses that further reflect the history of the structure. ELEMENTS also decided to bring in more natural light by opening old dock doors and adding cross-bracing to allow them to stay open. The building’s loading docks were retained, with windows inserted to bring in more light. The design team transfomred an old garage door into a contemporary-looking glass door that opens onto an outdoor space.

To create flexibility, the space employs modular walls; there are no hard walls, even for restrooms. All ceiling beam structures are wall supported. A customized floor trench hides electrical and data cables, and power is supplied through a modular system. Crews installed stadium seating, with the dual purpose of displaying products as well as hosting large meetings.

Using prefabricated, modular components greatly simplified construction, streamlining ELEMENTS’ work with its contractor and subcontractors. Fewer subcontractors than usual were required, and there were no change orders during construction.

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