Where Are They Now: DESIGN+BUILD Workspace’s CONNECT, A Universal Co-Create Space

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Chair of the Month

Emily Ambery
Emily Ambery
Emily Ambery is Work Design Magazine’s summer intern. She is a senior studying English and Public Relations at Duquesne University. She is thrilled to be part of the Work Design team and enjoys the creativity of the hybrid workforce setting.

CONNECT, A Universal Co-Create Space won in the Furniture and DEI categories in the 2022 Next Work Environment Competition. Find out how the team and their submission are doing today!

Offering synergy with nature, endless configurations, and balance with childcare, CONNECT partnered with local parks and communities to give users a third place to work. Their submission featured lightweight, modular furniture pieces that were customizable to the user’s preference. With the goal of linking communities burdened by long commutes to green locations close to home, within reach of varied socioeconomic backgrounds, we spoke with the team to see where the project has taken them!

Design+Build Workspace
Ashleigh Lessard, Furniture Design Manager; Allied ASID Caitlin Cunningham, Workplace Strategist;  Samantha Aleo, Interior Designer, NCIDQ, LEED Green Assoc.;  Maddy Mackin Freeman, Design Director;  Sara Donovan, Interior Designer;  Erik Larson, Architectural Project Lead

WDM: What has happened with the project since the competition?

DESIGN+BUILD: Even a year later, we’re looking back on this project and smiling! We had such a great time last year working on this project and appreciate all the work the Magazine does each year to put the competition together.

As experts in workplace design, our creative team at Design+Build is always keeping their eyes and ears open to emerging trends and statistics, and in an age of constant shift of workplace dynamics, it’s more crucial than ever to be at the forefront of innovation in this field. With diversity, equity, and inclusion as the crux of the way we work, our CONNECT workstation concept is a primary example of how design should, first and foremost, serve the community as a whole. We include the research and groundwork established in this project in our designers’ toolbox as we continue to design comprehensive workspaces for all.

If the idea has evolved, what were the changes and why?

The workplace is still undergoing a major transformation, and the concept of an agile workplace is not just a blip caused by the pandemic – it is a continuous shift in the way we think about work-life balance, the way we communicate and interact within a workplace, and ultimately, the way schematics and aesthetics of a physical space have been adapted to embody those ideals.

Has the team working on it grown? Who did you add and why?

As a firm, we continue to add burgeoning talent to our design department, and the diversity of our growing team is a natural boon to a design that relies on, and improves from, the adaptation of its user’s approach to work. We are in a unique position to practice what we preach, and at our Design+Build Portland office, we do just that – our office provides a variety of spaces for different types of work – conference rooms for group discussions, focus booths for heads-down work, a work-lounge for casual collaboration, and sit-stand independent workstations in our open office. We are the subjects of our own experiment and analysis, which is pretty dang cool.

What are you working on now?

With tenant improvements being the bulk of our projects, we continue to push flexibility in design to meet our clients’ needs. We find that more and more companies are looking to an agile office concept to entice workers back to the office and create a deeper sense of community within the workplace. As we carefully plan and execute our projects, we strive to create environments that suit each client’s individual needs, while promoting advancement and innovation in programming to set them up for success and employee retainment for years to come. We’re excited to see what we can cook up for you this year!

You can check out their full 2022 submission here


🤩 Feeling inspired? 🤩

Submissions for the 2023 Next Work Environment Competition are open now!


Special thanks to our 2023 Innovative Brand Partners:


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