A New Home: TBA’s Office Move

Yes… we have moved! After months of searching, designing, revisions and construction, we are settling into our new home. As we complete the finishing touches, we reflect on the process of getting here – and the similarities to our homeowners’ projects. Building, renovating or restoring a home (or an office) is a massive undertaking, and one that often comes with both setbacks and excitement. Director of Operations David Stone shares an overview of these moments from start to finish.

THE DECISION

Our former office was home to TBA since 2003. Throughout those 19 years, our studio has grown. A larger team in an open-plan office – and the COVID-19 pandemic – led us to the conclusion that our old space could not support our needs for years to come. Tim, David and our Controller, Sharon, devised a list of needs for a future space:

  • More individual offices to accommodate video calls with better sound separation
  • A safer, walkable neighborhood
  • Geographically located to best serve our projects/site visits, as well as our team members’ commutes
  • A space that inspires our staff and homeowners, inside and outside

THE SEARCH

We started by touring several spaces throughout West Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire and Beverly Hills. There were a few spaces we pursued and even designed, yet none panned out. One was an interesting opportunity in West Hollywood to redevelop an old metal building that once served as a theater. After completing interior and exterior renderings, we decided to find a space above ground level to be more secure for our team.

Metal Building 3D Rendering
An interior 3-D rendering of the metal building we considered. While we loved the structure, we ultimately decided to find a space above ground level.

Then, on Wilshire Blvd., we fell in love with a historic Art Deco building with controlled access and on-site parking. Again, we went through the design process and developed floor plans and elevations.

Art Deco Building Floorplan
The floorplan for our potential office within the Art Deco building on Wilshire Blvd. – a top contender.

We were ready to go. But just before signing the deal and making it official, we discovered a few dealbreakers:

  • Our clients would need to be escorted to and from our office.
  • The “gated” parking was not actually gated, as the gates never close.
  • In the time it took to secure the space, our staff had grown too large for this beautiful space.

We decided to take a second look at buildings we had previously seen. Low and behold, 144 S. Beverly Drive now checked all the boxes!

THE RIGHT PLACE

Positives included: wonderful neighborhood with lots of dining options within walking distance; on-site parking and valet; an attractive lobby; lots of room to grow; and good natural light with views from four directions.

The cons: that space might be too large; the exterior of the building did not look like “us”; and the interior of the space felt dark and segmented. After several meetings, we sent a letter of intent (LOI) to the landlord and began to design and test-fit the project. Along with the help of Job Captain Kyra Bauman, We developed several floor plans to land where we are today:

  • The front door could be moved and changed to glass to bring in light for a more inviting entry for guests.
  • The old print room would open onto the main foyer to create improve connection (and to provide a direct path for guests to the restrooms).
  • An existing small conference room was to be opened to create a comfortable sitting area.
  • We created a series of offices that all would open onto a central bullpen workspace, with glass doors and sidelights to flood the interior space with natural light.
  • The existing cubicles were reorganized to allow for three spacious shared workstations.
  • The offices along the east side were developed to allow for privacy, yet connectedness, between Sharon, David and Tim.
  • A new kitchen and lounge were designed, and lots of bookcases.
Existing Office Beverly Drive
The existing office space at 144 South Beverly Drive, prior to demolition and construction.
144 South Beverly 3D Rendering
An interior 3-D rendering of our new office at 144 S. Beverly Drive, Suite 500.

After many rounds of revisions and budgets, we signed the lease!

THE DESIGN

As we finalized plans to move and entrusted Keefer Construction Unlimited as contractor, we detailed our new space. The existing décor and atmosphere – a 1990s office space with dropped ceiling and lots of wallpaper – had to go. We chose a 1940s publishing house as inspiration; and hit the ground running to complete the design:

  • We recycled existing door jambs, acoustical tile and cabinetry in the new space.
  • Longtime client and friend Nancy Lovett gifted the office several glass and steel panels, which were integrated to open up the staff lounge.
  • We brought over light fixtures, bookcases and drawing files from our former office.
  • We added a stepped Art Deco-inspired cap detail to our pony walls.
  • We placed a picture rail around the perimeter of the space to hang our art.
  • We paneled the front lobby, sitting area and conference room.
  • We brought over existing entry and conference room furnishings and found new chairs for our staff lounge at Amsterdam Modern in Silverlake.
  • We selected Aero Shade to install new window blinds.
  • We found new door hardware from Design Hardware.
Materials Concept Board
A preliminary materials concept board for the new office.

THE CONSTRUCTION

What started as a 12-week tenant improvement project developed into a 20-week endeavor. Project overruns, unforeseen construction issues and scheduling delays pushed our moving day back more than once. Below are two examples of challenges during the construction process. We viewed these hurdles as design opportunities to enhance the aesthetic of our modernized space:

As demolition started on the chipped beige floor tile in the existing bathrooms, we found a three-inch-deep mortar bed under the tile that had disintegrated over the years. To address this issue, we decided to re-pour and seal new concrete to create a beautiful, modern floor.

Existing Bathroom Floor
Before: Upon demolition of the bathroom tile, we found the existing mortar bed was disintegrated.
Concrete Floor Bathroom
After: The finished floor is now a sleek finished concrete.

Above the acoustical tile ceiling, we uncovered an enormous, antiquated duct system that would ruin our open ceiling concept. As a solution, we replaced the 44” wide flat ductwork with 20” round ducts that are both beautiful and more functional above our new open bullpen.

Existing Duct System
Before: Removal of the acoustical tile ceiling during demo revealed a massive duct system.
Open Concept Ceiling
After: By replacing the existing flat ductwork with smaller round ducts, we were able to create a dramatic open ceiling.

THE MOVE-IN

For weeks prior to our move date, we spent time going through our 19 years of accumulated paperwork, samples and STUFF to declutter, reinvigorate and modernize what we hold in our office.

  • The old drawing files were scanned and recycled.
  • The materials library was recycled, gifted and renewed with updated information (of course, we held onto many of our favorites, old and new!).
  • The office equipment, chairs, hardware and software were combed through. If we needed it, we kept it. If we did not, we donated it.

Even so, we required over 275 crates to move our 28-person office from Beverly Grove to Beverly Hills. Utilizing reusable crates on simple dollies from Rentacrate, we could minimize our waste and carbon footprint while also making the move process efficient.

Move-in day finally arrived… August 19! Movers rolled the dollies to the elevator, out the front door, and onto the truck.

Nineteen years’ of history was transported by three separate truck runs and loaded into our new space in just under 10 hours. Our team, armored in blue TBA shirts, helped to load, unload and sort the crates throughout the day. It was a significant undertaking, and our team worked like a precision watch. We spent the weekend unpacking and were back to work in our new space the following Monday!

Conference Room
Our new conference room features floor-to-ceiling windows plus new custom blinds. The open-concept ceiling continues throughout the office; and pops of our TBA blue on the walls alongside white paneling appear in the foyer as well.
Staff Lounge Windows
A longtime client and friend gifted the office several glass and steel panels, which were integrated to open up the staff lounge.
Picture Rails Line
To hang artwork, picture rails line the perimeter of the space.
Door Hardware
We selected brushed nickel door hardware from Design Hardware.
Office Library
Our new library has ample book storage thanks to custom shelving.

The effort, dedication and talent of our team has created a space we are excited to call home. We look forward to our evolution, as TBA continues to grow and prosper in its new environment. Thank you to all that helped (physically, emotionally and metaphorically) throughout the process. Cheers to this next chapter of TBA!