Law Offices

Location:  Syracuse, NY

Completed:  Fall 2016

Program:  Office Headquarters

Construction Type:  Interior Renovation

Awards:  2018 AIACNY Citation for Design

The Barclay Damon Office Headquarters is a 60,000-square foot, five-floor interior retrofit to Onondaga Tower (formerly), a 15-story building located in the heart of Downtown Syracuse. Working closely with both the tenant and developer, the design team was able to create a signature project that has raised the bar for what downtown office space can be.  The newly renovated space provides a bold and dignified statement, thrusting the 160 years old law firm well into the future.

The design process began with an analysis of Barclay Damon’s previous office space and included several visioning sessions where the design team received feedback from staff.  In the previous office space, the building had a much larger overall floorplate, spreading the firm out over only two floors.  As the result there were many more interior offices and spaces with limited access to natural daylight.  While recognizing the need for privacy and confidentiality, Barclay Damon was very aware of the trends and changes in workplace design and how that could positively affect the client and staff experience, as well as improve recruitment and retention.

The design is organized around the two strategically placed large gathering spaces, the 12thfloor public lobby and the 11thfloor private lounge and kitchen.  The open 2-story volume of the public lobby and internal communicating stairs cut from the existing floor plates, help improve collaboration and movement throughout the office space.  While the staff is distributed over several floors, these elements help to reinforce a sense of connection to the larger office community that was critical for Barclay Damon. In the office spaces, the design minimizes the number of interior offices and incorporates borrowed natural daylight for the administrative staff located around the building core.  This is achieved by using full height glass fronts on the offices, providing all staff regardless of position a seat with an incredible exterior view.

The bright and airy articulation of the materials and finishes in the public lobby heighten the experience of being more than one-hundred and fifty feet from the ground while providing long views of the surrounding Syracuse landscape.  This strong emphasis on the horizontality of the view from the lobby is reflected in the banding of the wood along the upper floor level, the riser-less precast concrete stair treads, and full height glass conference rooms that expand the breadth of the view.  The finishes were specifically tailored to compliment the firms more traditional office furniture which was re-used for all the office spaces.  By contrast, the private staff lounge was deliberately designed to be a much more casual and relaxed space.   The exposed structural elements, polished concrete floor and wood accents make this a retreat from the formal office environments above and below.

The design creates a sleek and spacious work environment that improves the experience for staff members at all levels in the organization and has exceeded expectations for what an office space can. The project is evidence that thoughtful and sophisticated design is possible on a developer budget.