For insight about trends impacting the A & D marketplace, OfficeMax Workplace℠ Interiors A & D Marketing Manager Pat Rodich visited with Lawrence Ward, CEO of the Las Vegas-based interior design firm Ward & Howes Associates, which provides full-service interior design for commercial, hospitality and retail projects.
PR: Your firm does a lot of back-of-house office design for Las Vegas resorts. What trends are you noticing in this type of interior design work?
LW: Maintaining a unique corporate identity and strong brand have always been of paramount importance to Las Vegas resorts. However, recently, resort owners have become more concerned with translating their brand to the back-of-house support spaces to foster a seamless transition between the aesthetics in the resort and employee areas.
By investing more money to upgrade employee space, clients hope to provide better working conditions for employees and minimize turnover, while promoting a more cohesive brand image throughout the resort.
PR: What are some of the challenges you face when designing interior office space for Las Vegas resorts?
LW: There is a delicate balance between ensuring the space complies with all governmental and environmental regulations and designing an aesthetically pleasing space. It is important to understand the gaming laws and consider money handling, security and surveillance issues in the overall design.
Since there are tax incentives in Las Vegas for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) compliance, resort owners also are challenging design firms to adhere to environmental standards. However, clients also expect design firms to negotiate with the building departments to stretch the design and building regulations as far as they can.
Along with regulations, since the workspace in Las Vegas is being used around the clock, it must be durable and functional for 24/7 operation. The challenge is to keep all parties — the client, regulatory bodies and end users — happy.
PR: Often, back-of-house office space is sheltered from windows and natural light. How does your firm help to brighten up this space?
LW: Back-of-house office space does tend to be in the interior of buildings or in the basement, which does not allow for natural lighting. To compensate for this, we look at different landscaping and modular lighting sources to give the illusion of openness and natural light. We also incorporate large murals to both lighten the space and provide visual elements of the outdoors.
PR: What has been one of your favorite design projects?
LW: The office design project we completed four to five years ago for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., has to be one of my favorites. The task was to help the resort identify its brand through its support elements and back-of-house office design. We had a healthy budget and lots of space to work with, which allowed us to transform the back-of-house space into a fantastic haven for employees, including television and video game rooms; Internet lounges; spacious work areas; and a private Starbucks.