Natural daylight, scenic views, open spaces, vibrant pops of color, flexible spaces, and writable surfaces—this is what describes the newly-renovated ERO Architects office in McAllen. The award-winning architectural firm recently decided that they needed to give the firm’s headquarters a makeover that created a more engaging environment for its 26 creative employees. Although the office has been home to ERO Architects for more than 12 years, the company’s partners Eli R. Ochoa, AIA, PE and Brian Godinez felt that the space had to promote the same creativity, innovation and flexibility that the firm incorporates in the design of its architectural projects.
“Our new office shies away from traditional corporate America office design and focuses on truly reflecting our brand and identity values, which involves moving into 21st century design. Although we are living in the 21st century, our schools and buildings are not reflecting that atmosphere,” said Ochoa. “Many of our most recent clients are looking to take a step in that direction of 21st century environments, so if we’re going to be talking the talk, we need to be walking the walk.”
The firm understands and recognizes the importance of innovation and creativity in designing spaces that will increase performance and boost productivity. ERO Architects built their reputation by designing educational spaces that incorporate breakthroughs in design and technology to foster an environment for optimal learning, imagination and collaboration. While it is easy to be resistant to change, the firm has always embraced new technology and opened itself to diversity. More than 22 schools in the Rio Grande Valley have reaped the benefits of incorporating state-of-the-art design to increase learning through global connection and exchange of ideas. Many of the elements that are used in 21st century and sustainable design were incorporated into the new ERO Architects office. Electronic boards and writable surfaces can be seen throughout the entire technology-driven building.
The design team was able to transform the cramped, cubicle-lined office into a modern, airy and vibrant area that not only fits more employees, but also feels more spacious. Transparency is evident as well. Where closed offices use to be, now there are glass walls or open work areas. Ochoa no longer has an executive office, now he has a workstation and is often found jumping from one architect’s workstation to the next to interact one-on-one or in a group. “Everywhere you turn, there is a place to write or sketch, or a place to pull up a couple of chairs to meet. Some of the best ideas come during an impromptu meeting or over by the coffee bar,” said Godinez.
The firm had a special “edge” in designing their new workspace. As an architecture firm, they had their vendor’s newest products, some never before used in projects in South Texas. Some of these products include modern LED lighting, ergonomic furniture and the material used for the impressive woodwall featured in the office lobby. A portion of the lobby’s wall was highlighted by interweaving different wood tones to create a minimalist focal point, a perfect example of how the firm thinks outside of the box by finding unconventional uses for their materials. “It is an artistic piece within the building. We really pushed to score new avenues for everyday materials,” added Godinez. “Another great benefit of the project is that our customers are able to see the products that are available to them in a real environment. Clients visualize products differently from the trained eye of the designer, and having the ability to showcase our products throughout the building is a big advantage.”
The clients are not the only ones that have felt the positive impact from the renovation. The team at ERO Architects can certainly feel a difference in how the new office design has positively impacted their work and increased office morale. The cafe-inspired work areas and “smart” conference rooms allow them to take their work anywhere. “The communication between employees and between clients is really changing, so is the technology used. Our space needs to reflect those changes,” said the forward-thinking Ochoa.