SMBW’s Office Expansion

SMBW’s Office Expansion

by Maggie Schubert, AIA

SMBW is very excited to have the opportunity to expand our office space in the Turning Basin Building in Shockoe Slip. We are taking over the old First Market space next door.


On a typical project of this scale for a client, SMBW would have just a few key individuals involved. However, the expansion is for OUR office, and we wanted to collect input from the entire staff. Our process included several office-wide design charrettes where staff pinned up precedent images, plans, and perspective sketches on trace. While there were many ideas presented, some key thoughts were prevalent in all of the designs. Everyone agreed that the door off of the lobby should be the new entrance. For those of you who haven’t been to our space, we currently have no enclosed spaces aside from the restrooms. While this makes for a very open office, it was unanimously agreed that SMBW needs an enclosed conference room and an enclosed small meeting room. We love the open office plan for the collaborative and flexible atmosphere, but sometimes you need a quiet space or a place to have a private meeting. Another thing everyone agreed on is that we all love having our desks along the exterior window line to take in the views of the canal and see the activity of the people on the streets, so the layout of our existing space will remain largely the same. Once a direction was agreed upon, I became the keeper and shepherd of the ideas, and have shared progress updates throughout the development of the project.

The additional space will also allow us to relocate and expand the materials library, and by pulling it off the exterior wall, will provide us with more layout space. The materials library will also have a feature wall, housing some of our favorite materials being used for projects.

While gaining some much needed meeting space and more room for materials will help with our day-to-day activities, we are most excited about our open gallery space. Our gallery will be a platform where SMBW can host industry events such as Richmond Women in Design panel discussions, IIDA education courses, Young Architect and Interns Forum leadership presentations and so much more. We will invite local artists to have temporary art installations and VCU Interior Design students to host critiques here. We hope the space will become a place to simply explore design ideas with students, colleagues, industry professionals, and the local community.

SMBWdemopanoThe new space, mid-demolition

We are scheduled to wrap up construction in about three weeks and once we are all settled in, we hope everyone will join us for an open house to break in the new space. I can’t wait to show you around!