The Interaction of Space and Culture




Photography provided by Graydon law firm

 

Graydon law firm looks to shape culture by designing an environment that reflects their values.

This past fall, October 3 to be exact, Graydon moved its main office two blocks south from the Fifth Third Center to the Scripps Center overlooking the Ohio River. 

After 45 years on Fountain Square, the decision was not made lightly.  Sometimes the familiar is hard to let go because it is easy, comfortable and maintains the status quo.  However, in 2013 Graydon set out to become “Greater Cincinnati’s most innovative and vibrant law
firm ...,” an aspirational goal that required intentional, practical action.  When the time came to renew the lease at Fifth Third Center, a conversation began about the relationship between physical space and firm culture.  

After much discussion, it became clear that a change to the firm’s working space was an opportunity to shape its culture for the coming decades. A new space would inject energy and optimism into the well-established firm, while providing the opportunity to thoughtfully design an environment that encourages collaboration and is conducive to modern working habits.  It is said that actions speak louder than words, and the creation of a new space, intentionally designed to reflect the values of the firm, was a way for Graydon to show their clients, employees and themselves that they were committed to the vision they set out to achieve. 

After an honest conversation with Fifth Third, Graydon’s long-time landlord and valued client, the firm decided to hire Jordan Weidner and his team at Cushman Wakefield to explore other locations downtown.  The firm eventually settled on the former Scripps Interactive headquarters on the 18th floor of the Scripps Center.  Once the location was chosen, Graydon added the talents of Kolar Design and Hixson to complete the transition team.  

Meanwhile, Graydon created an internal design team tasked with creating a vision for the new space.  A glance at their wish list is rather telling.  It included a place where guests feel pampered, thoughtful – as if someone put a lot of thought into the space and cares about me; a place that celebrates color, light and texture; and a place where new talent can see themselves working, with an open, airiness that encourages creativity.  A fleshed-out version was given to the transition team and eventually became the guiding vision for the design process.

The Scripps space provided a beautiful foundation, but required an extensive buildout to create the environment Graydon wanted.  Large south-facing offices overlooking the river were gutted to create a large communal event space and conference rooms for client meetings.  Various-sized offices were redesigned to be more or less uniform attorney workspaces positioned around the remaining perimeter. Wherever possible, solid walls were replaced with glass, allowing natural light and further emphasizing the openness of the space.  The transformation was dramatic.

Walking through Graydon’s new office space, it appears that they have met their objective goals.  The offices are uniform, light, colorful and open.  But what about the subjective experiences of those who work in or visit the space? Did Graydon achieve the goal of creating an environment that is welcoming and inspiring, a place where clients and employees feel valued and collaboration and creativity are encouraged? They say that the proof is in the pudding, so here is a curated collection of comments from Graydon clients, employees and friends.

Needless to say, it appears that Graydon has met their subjective goals as well.  They have successfully created an environment that reflects their values, reinforces their aspirations and pushes them toward the future.

 

“The natural light in the space inspires me on a daily basis.  This, along with the modern design and artistic touches, has invigorated my attitude about coming to work every day." – Jeff Hendricks, Partner

 

“Can I just work remotely from your office everyday?” – Client with Fifth Third

 

“The uniformity of the office sizes is a striking feature.  It allows personnel to be grouped to maximize functionality and efficiency, rather than arbitrarily splitting out senior partners to the corners.” – Dan Knecht, Associate

 

“I love the new space.  The best part of the move in my opinion is the proximity to co-workers and the ability to collaborate quickly and easily with those around me in a bright, energetic environment.” – Lynn Gatian, HR Manager

 

“The new office encourages activity – it’s bright; the desks move up and down; the chairs move easily around the offices; it’s easy to have face-to-face conversations because the rooms are close; the fitness center is nearby; there are multiple places to get work done and have meetings. It’s energizing to work in a place that feels this active.” – Anthony Robertson, Associate

 

“Can we have all of our meetings here?” – Client with Home City Ice

 

“The space is fresh; it’s like an awakening to everything new and modern. I feel like we have transitioned from the Dark Ages to the New! I appreciate all the efforts made to make our work space not only appealing to clients, but a good environment for our colleagues.” – Mary Gough, Longtime Assistant

 

Graydon is located in the Scripps Center, 312 Walnut Street, Suite 1800, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.621-6464 or visit graydon.law.