Success in the Details

Jan. 1, 2008

Hnedak Bobo Group took advantage of existing architectural details to create a signature space for ODEN Marketing.

By Janet Wiens | Photography by Jeffrey Jacobs


Respecting the past is an integral part of many projects, and that is certainly true when it comes to the new offices of ODEN Marketing in Memphis, TN. The project's architect and interior designer, Hnedak Bobo Group (HBG), also of Memphis, used the rich details in the building that houses ODEN's office to add a level of interest and elegance to the company's new home. At the same time, HBG also respected the client's budget and found creative ways to achieve the greatest return on their investment.

"Our first office was in a converted house and we occupied our next space for 10 years," says Bret Terwilleger, ODEN's principal and chief operating officer. "When it came time to move, we wanted an environment that would generate excitement for our clients and employees while also meeting our functional needs."

ODEN is a multi-discipline branding firm that serves a range of clients from mid-size privately held businesses to Fortune 100 companies. The firm's clients, including FedEx, expect a great deal of creativity, which is what Terwilleger expected from HBG. "We are very concerned about the details when it comes to the work we do for our clients," he says. "Moving provided us with an opportunity to create a new feel for our space that would generate a sense of awe for our clients while invigorating our employees. Every detail was important."

Terwilleger notes that working with the HBG design team put him on the other side of the fence. Rather than leading a client through a process designed to craft a branding strategy, he found himself being led through a similar process by HBG's designers. "I had to trust the HBG team and let go of the process. It was interesting to sit on the other side of the creative table."

ODEN's offices are located in the former Goldsmith's Department Store in downtown Memphis. Originally constructed in 1902, HBG designed the renovation of this structure in the early 1990s. The design team's intimate knowledge of the building and its importance to Memphis' urban fabric strengthened the commitment to focus on the details.

"ODEN is very passionate about their business and they wanted that reflected in their new office," explains Dan Elias, HBG's principal-in-charge. "Our task was to design a space that would provide the greatest return on investment in terms of both aesthetics and long-term function."

The original plan called for ODEN to occupy a total of 28,000 square feet on one floor and part of another. However, a desire to scale back the initial financial investment in the new office resulted in a decision to occupy just the one floor at the time of initial occupancy. ODEN has an option to lease additional space on the floor above its current location, and HBG's design will accommodate the construction of a grand staircase to join the two floors should the company choose to expand.

"The building's fenestration allowed us to create different venues within the office based on their orientation," adds Elias. "We were able to add a richness to the space by using this element and other architectural details."

Aron Ramage, HBG's project manager and designer, echoes Elias' comments about maximizing and utilizing the building's original details in the firm's design. "The building's display windows, 14-foot-high ceilings, tin
ceiling feature, column grid and decorative capitals gave us a foundation to begin with that isn't in place on most projects," he says. "Creatively using these elements enabled us to provide a high level of sophistication in our design that might not have been possible given the budget requirements."

Designers used the varying carpet patterns to lead visitors from the elevator lobby to a pre-function space outside of the main conference room. larger image

The plan for the 21,000-square-foot office maximizes exposure to downtown views and natural light. The location of the reception area, offices, conference rooms and break room, coupled with other project elements, allows natural light to flow into interior spaces as well as to those located along the building's perimeter.

Ramage says that the reduction in the original program and budget required team members to carefully analyze how to meet established functional requirements. "We designed dual usage areas throughout the office to give employees the work areas they need. Our plan addresses an area's main function but other uses as well."

This approach and the awe factor that ODEN wanted begins when visitors enter the reception area. The selected color palette of blues, creams and browns serves as a sophisticated foundation for the space and allows other elements to stand out. The ceiling and the white band in the carpet leads visitors to the reception desk. Using the building's grid, HBG strategically placed walls to provide space for displaying examples of ODEN's work. Opposite the wall, the design team placed informal seating areas near the large display windows. The combination of seating and tables, coupled with white banquette seating at the base of the windows, provides additional areas for meetings. The reception area can also be used as breakout space for meetings or for social events.

Glass walls and doors with etched privacy bands allow natural light to flow into the main conference room. The solid walls above the white banquette seating are used to pin up graphics for presentations. larger image

The two conference rooms both have full audiovisual capabilities, and the large conference room, which seats 16 at the table, has a small food preparation area accessed via sliding doors. Features include both solid and glass walls and a varied ceiling plane, which slides through from the conference room into the reception area. The glass walls and doors were etched with bands to provide a sense of privacy-an approach that prevents occupants from feeling closed in when all doors are shut. The white banquette seating in the conference room was placed on the same grid as those in the reception area. Walls above the banquettes are used to pin up graphics during presentations.

Workstations were pulled away from the bay windows in the main office area to provide informal team interaction areas while still allowing natural light to flow into interior spaces. larger image

Both open and closed offices were treated with the same level of detail and respect. Workstations, which were reused from the previous location, were pulled away from the bay windows in the main office area to provide spaces for informal team interaction. Wireless capabilities throughout the office accommodate work or meetings anywhere.

Wooden slats on exposed stud walls articulate the separation of staff support areas- including copy and mail areas and vending-from public spaces. The new ceiling planes float below the original tin ceiling to create a graceful blending of the building's old and new components. HBG's designers turned the carpet pattern in bands to visually break up the length of open office areas.

Above (larger image): Wooden slat walls on exposed studs separate all staff support areas from the office's public spaces. The patterned carpet breaks up the length of the open office areas. 
Below (
larger image) "The Pit" features warmer tones of orange and yellow. Sconces from the agency's former office were moved to the new location and crafted into an art piece for this area.

In "the Pit," the artwork mock-up area, the main color palette gives way to warm orange and yellow tones. The large orange wall showcases the sconces that were relocated from the company's former offices and creates an art piece within the area. The exposed column, with its intricately detailed cap, adds further visual interest.

While all design elements support employee requirements, the break room is the owner's gift to the staff. Instead of securing the location for executive offices-based on the extensive views to downtown-the owners determined that the break room should occupy the area. HBG separated the space from the office work area by combining historic columns, floating glass planes and glass walls with butt glazing. Seating areas accommodate groups of varying sizes, and the largest table is used for informal meetings in addition to dining.

The break room features a variety of seating options, and easily accommodates group meetings or dining. larger image

HBG's design also supports ODEN's green commitment, as evidenced by the company's decision to locate in an existing downtown building rather than contributing to urban sprawl. Doors, door hardware, mechanical ductwork and light fixtures were recycled or reused to the greatest extent possible. Maximizing the flow of natural light, including the use of sidelights and transoms next to all offices, reduces the energy load on lighting fixtures. Shaw's EcoWorx carpet, used throughout the space, has Cradle-to-Cradle certification and contains 40 percent recycled content in addition to its other environmental attributes. 

HBG's design fulfilled its client's goals and has garnered industry recognition as well. The Gulf States Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) granted HBG an Award of Merit for its work on the project and the Memphis Chapter of the AIA awarded the project an Honor Citation. In addition, HBG received a "Design Is ..." Award in 2007 from Shaw Contract Group for the ODEN project. Clearly, taking care of the details does translate to success.

SEATINGBernhardt Design | 5(828) 758-9811

Davis Furniture
(336) 889-2009

Brayton International | 3, 9(336) 434-4151TABLESHBF | 6(828) 328-2064Steelcase | 8(800) 333-9939CONFERENCE TABLEBernhardt Design | 2LIGHTINGBruck Lighting Systems | 11(714) 259-9959Eureka | 4(514) 385-3515   

(800) 263-2947

CARPETShaw | 10(877) 502-7429FLOORING
Sincol | 12PAINT
Porter | 7(800) 332-6270CEILING TILESArmstrong | 1877-ARMSTRONGAPPLIANCESGE

(800) 726-8762

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119 S. Main St., Ste. 300
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 578-8055

Bret Terwilleger, principal and COO


Hnedak Bobo Group
104 S. Front St.
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 525-2557

Dan Elias, AIA, principal-in-charge
Aron Ramage, AIA, project manager/designer

The Reeves Firm

Shappley Design Consultants

Liles Engineering Design Consultants

Linkous Construction

Jeffrey Jacobs

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