Eric Robinson, vice president—facilities and operations at Chartis Bermuda Limited, outlined the company’s decision to opt for architecture and design firm OBM International to design its new workplace.
Is architecture & design important to your corporate image?
Architecture, design and space planning are extremely important elements in the corporate offi ce setting. Architecture and the interior design of a building can determine how your company is viewed by business clients, as well as assist in the potential growth of your company long-term. Appropriate use of space and programming the departmental design for function and purpose are a vital component not only for your corporate image, but also for the effi ciency and productivity of your company. Through the introduction of appropriate lighting, furniture, floor layout and fi nishes you can radically enhance your surroundings—and your company’s results.
Why did you select OBMI as your architects/interior design team?
OBMI’s experience in designing and executing corporate building development and interiors in Bermuda for over 75 years, along with their knowledge about our business proved to be a great match when we began thinking of expanding.
OBMI were commissioned as architects for the American International Building, which was opened in 1971. Since that time, they have provided architectural and interior design services during our many alterations and expansions as the buildings and interiors were adapted to meet the dynamic changes experienced by the burgeoning international business sector during the 1980s and 1990s.
What services did OBMI provide for your company?
In 2004, the continued growth of our business led us back to the drawing board, and OBMI were again commissioned, to design a new seven-storey building to sit adjacent to our existing building. The new building was completed ahead of schedule and was fully occupied in December 2007.
As the new building was constructed on the existing car park, we undertook to build an underground car park consisting of two floor levels for staff parking. Combined with ground level parking we now have 280 car parking spaces, and 175 bike spaces. This is an important amenity for staff, who greatly appreciate the facility.
OBMI continue to provide architectural, interior design, and space planning services to Chartis Insurance.
Does good architecture & design promote flexibility and productivity in your working environment?
At Chartis Bermuda Limited, we have traditionally opted for an open plan office environment. Exterior glass walls and interior glass partitions allow natural daylight into all areas of the offices, promoting a positive outlook and maximising comfort levels for all employees.
Flexibility, with regard to office layout is an important element, as we are continuously re-configuring departments to changing conditions within the company.
The use of a de-mountable partition system provides us with extreme flexibility within our office space. We can reconfigure a conference room into offices or workstations very quickly, as opposed to tearing down drywall partitions causing dust and disruption to staff.
We are constantly making changes to our floor layouts due to the changing needs of our various departments.
While working with OBMI did you feel as if you were engaged in a collaborative design process as part of a team?
At AIG/Chartis, we have a very strong design culture that has been established over the years and working with OBMI they are familiar with our culture and design philosophy. When we get together, we provide OBMI with a brief, the brief is then reviewed and OBMI comes back with design options. We then get together and through a collaborative approach agree upon our needs. Such an approach has consistently worked out well, with very little conflict, and OBMI have always come up with excellent options based on our mandate.
How do you see your organisation adopting green practices presently and in the future?
Thermal storage system (ice tanks): A dedicated chiller enables us to manufacture ice throughout the night (21:00-06:00), during the off-peak period of electrical consumption. The ice is stored in large tanks, and then programmed to melt slowly throughout the next working day to cool the building. This has proved to be a very economical and efficient method of producing air-conditioning throughout the building.
Heat harvester: The system uses waste heat from the air-conditioning system to provide hot water for the building. This method allows us to refrain from our using hot water tanks which consume significant amounts of electricity. The hot water tanks are used only in emergencies, and as back-up for the heat harvester.
Phasing in of LED lighting: The benefits of LEDs include longer life, the reduction of maintenance costs (no ballasts), low heat creation, and a huge reduction in electrical bills.
How important is architecture and design to the promotion of health and productivity in your employees? Is it a good investment?
It certainly is, and we regard it as a good investment for any company to make. Good design is an important element in the wellbeing and comfort level of staff. Appropriate design and surroundings in the workplace should meet all the requirements of functionality and purpose. When staff are aware that the company has invested in making their working space comfortable, safe, and pleasant to be in, this in turn promotes an environment for positive attitude and production.
For more information regarding OBM International, visit their website: www.obmi.com
Bermuda, OBM International, Chartis, captive, insurance