by Samuel X. Cicci
Sometimes, all the dominos fall in the right direction. Last year, the architecture and design firm formerly known as Hnedak Bobo Group successfully stabilized its new San Diego branch and took over the reins from founder Kirk Bobo. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have two industry veterans at the helm when change is afoot. Principals Rick Gardner and Terri Struminger have both been in the business for more than 25 years, and learned leadership on the job as Bobo eased into retirement. When they took over, Gardner and Struminger felt as if it were time for the firm to head in a fresh direction.
One of the keys words driving the new space’s design was collaboration. “Before,” says Gardner, “the cubicles were about five feet high. You could get lost in them, and in fact hide from people. I want senior members out in the middle of the environment, teaching young people about our practice. We’re all learning something from someone else and it’s really important that the people who have been working here for over 30 years are able to impart their knowledge.”
To help with the team dynamic, current projects are displayed publicly on a wall in the studio space. Now, each team member can know what anyone else is working on at any given moment, with ideas and tips exchanged freely. Members of HBG Design who spot one of the firm’s completed projects around town will feel as if they contributed.
In addition to a community feel, the new headquarters brighten up the workspace. “Our old location was a great warehouse space,” says Struminger, who also acts as the firm’s chief operating officer, “but it didn’t have a lot of natural light flooding in, and no views.” Located on the 23rd and 24th floors of One Commerce Square, the office offers stellar views of the city in every cardinal direction, with the Bass Pro Pyramid, Mississippi River, and FedExForum as prominent Memphis landmarks. Most meeting rooms are surrounded by full glass windows so pristine you could walk into them. The break room has the appearance of a chic, modern cafe complete with drink machines you’d find at a restaurant, and the whole office has an inviting ambience. “It really is amazing now to feel the energy,” Struminger says. “This space is great, especially on nice days, and it has some of the best views in the city.”
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