Stantec consolidates Portland-area offices
Dick Talley, vice president of Stantec's water division, remembers when the offices of engineering firms were places of rigidity and structure. People sat at the same desks every day and only certain tasks were done in certain areas.
In the last 30 years or so, the way projects come together has changed — and so have the ways engineering firms design and use their spaces.
For Stantec, that shift meant taking steps recently to begin consolidating 100 employees in three offices in Portland and Beaverton into a single space.
The company, which provides design and consulting engineering services as well as project management, began talking about creating a single home base for its local divisions about 15 months ago. Stantec's leaders were open to leasable space anywhere in the Portland metro area; they just wanted to be able to keep all of the company's employees on a single floor.
"More than just a common mailing address, we really wanted ... all of us on one floor plate," Talley said.
Fulfilling that goal turned out to be a tall task.
"Trying to find real estate in (the Portland area) is tough," Talley said. "There are opportunities in the 3,000-, 5000-, 10,000-square-foot range. But when you start getting up in the 15,000-, 20,000-, 25,000-square-foot range, the pool shrinks significantly."
An in-house group responsible for handling real estate-related issues for Stantec began investigating office options in the Portland area. The team came up with a list of properties and then looked at information such as where Stantec's employees lived, commute lengths and the ease of client access to narrow down the options. In the end, the company settled on 20,000- square feet of space on the 14th floor of Moda Tower on Southwest Second Avenue in Portland's Central Business District.
Designing for collaboration
Stantec's new office offers more than just the opportunity to have all employees in the same area; it's also big enough to allow the company to grow its staff numbers by as much as 20 percent in the future, Talley said.
The space also features wide expanses of windows and sweeping views, which were used as inspiration to create an open layout. Even areas for meetings and conferences are enclosed with glass to allow privacy while still allowing natural daylight to fill the office.
That sense of openness helps create an environment that encourages collaboration, which has become a common approach when it comes to how Stantec works on projects. Enhancing the ability for employees to brainstorm and share ideas are areas throughout the office outfitted with sofas and white boards.
"The world we work in now requires the ability ... to collaborate with owners, architects, engineers and contractors — to work in teams," Talley said.
Communication isn't the only way projects have changed in the past several decades. The pace of the workflow — including how changes must be addressed — is faster than ever. So Stantec's office features big video screens and spaces for video chats. The space also is outfitted with technology that allows document sharing between staff and project partners. Even a cafeteria area, which boasts a cedar wall decorated with insets of living greenery, offers employees the option of staying connected to colleagues through social media and messaging.
Stantec's in-house designers worked with Portland-based Ankrom Moisan on the space design. Lease Crutcher Lewis served as general contractor. Employees were highly involved in the design process as well, Talley said. Staff members were invited to provide suggestions and comments. They even had a chance to try out mock-ups of work stations and then customize their own areas.
Stantec has started moving some employees in, a process being done in phases "to keep the chaos controlled," Talley said. Employees already working in downtown locations were the first to move into the new space. Employees in locations in Beaverton will be moved in smaller groups.
Stantec's move into the Moda Tower comes on the heels of a change of ownership for the building. In September, American Reality Advisors and Unico Properties LLC in a joint venture took over ownership of the 398,412-square-foot Class-A office building at 601 S.W. Ave. Other tenants in the building include Moda Health, the law firm of Lane Powell and first-floor retail tenant Nordstrom Rack.