Another Birmingham industrial building is transformed into a functional space that’s part of the history of the city, offering an exciting juxtaposition of old and new. Williams Blackstock Architects turned a warehouse in Birmingham’s Lakeview District into the new offices for KMS (Kemp Management Solutions), a program management and consulting firm.
“The design for this family-owned business created a professional home away,” explains Principal Stephen Allen of Williams Blackstock Architects. “The setting combines professionalism and seriousness with that of a relaxed, comfortable family atmosphere for employees to gather, meet with clients and provide focused work zones in several environments away from their desk.”
The vision for this 12,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, Allen says, was to maintain the spirit and bones of this old masonry warehouse through a series of modern adaptations to some original features, including the mezzanine and the building’s numerous skylights. The existing mezzanine was removed in certain areas to frame a large work zone on one side and the “corporate family room” on the other that serves as one of the building’s most versatile spaces.
Visibility is achieved throughout this space with full glass private offices located on the interior of the building beneath the mezzanine. This allows full advantage of natural light coming in through new enlarged perimeter windows and skylights, Allen notes.
A “restrained finish palette with punches of contrast” was used, he continues, to exude professionalism and draw attention to the large volume of space by highlighting the exposed structure, building systems and wood elements found in the vertical circulation.
The mezzanine proved to be a challenge when repurposing the warehouse for its new use. The mezzanine spanned most of the building footprint and was supported from above. Allen says this presented a challenge due to the decreased head height, but at the same time creates an opportunity to use portions of the mezzanine level for future office space, as well as using it as a way to visually separate the open office from the living room area.
Portions of the existing mezzanine were removed, which allowed the space to be opened to the roof structure and bring in the natural light from the skylights above for the open office and living room, while tucking the enclosed offices and support space underneath the mezzanine.
Despite their origins from a bygone era, warehouses such as this one adapt surprisingly well to today’s new economy.
“The existing materials and character of these buildings provide a great environment for a variety of uses, including office space with this project,” Allen observes. “Clients are drawn to the texture and solidity of the steel windows, exposed structure and masonry, all of which provides a great opportunity to contrast with newer, modern insertions in the space necessary to accommodate new functions. The openness of these existing spaces typically lend themselves to more of an open office approach with fewer enclosed offices, which also promotes flexibility with the layout over time.”
Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Chris Luker