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Boardrooms Are Beginning To Morph Into 'Client Collaboration Spaces'

One of the last bastions of old-style office space, the boardroom, is finally giving way to new design, according to Angela Ferguson, managing director of interior design and architectural agency Futurespace in Australia. 

PwC's offices in Sydney, a new design by Futurespace

Boardrooms, when they aren't hosting board meetings, typically have been used for client meetings. With that as a starting point, Ferguson told Commercial Real Estate, a Sydney-based publication, her firm aims to "disrupt the traditional boardroom mentality of client interactions."

Recently Futurespace put these efforts into practice at PwC's offices in Sydney by vastly expanding where the company meets and interacts with its clients. The redesign spans four floors, all oriented toward client interaction.

"The brief from PwC to Futurespace was to create an end-to-end client experience that was exceptional, memorable and that embraced the best ‘outside of industry’ experiences to create something unique," according to the company. "This has resulted in four client collaboration floors at Tower 1 Barangaroo Sydney that are a first rate blend of hospitality, hotel, retail, technology and airline club lounge spaces."

The four client floors are connected by a central staircase and viewing platforms, and feature both open and closed meeting spaces, conference spots and quiet spaces, all offering advanced technology.

In the U.S., though creative office space is commonplace these days, the traditional boardroom lingers, though not in every office.

At the newly renovated AAA Northern California Nevada & Utah HQ in Walnut Creek, California, HGA incorporated the theme of an American road trip into the design, including the boardroom.

The space features a wood treatment that resembles tire tracks and a table with vintage hubcaps. Other details in the office include headlight light fixtures that can be found in the conference room and meeting nooks inspired by 1970s rest areas. 

The notion that conference rooms — and by extension boardrooms, which traditionally have merely been posh conference rooms — can have themes, and names to reflect their themes, also seems to be catching on.

Sarah Brazaitis, an organizational psychologist and senior lecturer at Columbia’s Teachers College, told Quartz that themed conference room names reflect the rise of open-office layouts.

"Both elements of office design aim to inspire collaboration, innovation and happiness among employees," she said.

Related Topics: PWC, Sydney, Futurespace, Angela Ferguson