As an automotive garage, 323 formed part of the Swanson’s Tire complex. In 2017, the 2,000 SF four-bay garage was reconfigured as the new home for a local design firm—Gardner’s second standalone office. The largely uninterrupted space transitioned well into an open office layout. An existing wall that previously dissected the eastern portion of the garage now provides an appropriate barrier between the open studio and the professional support area, containing a conference room, workroom, and restrooms. The space celebrates the structure’s origins with new, large-format windows that emulate the overhead garage doors that existed previously. Wall finishes of the existing building were left intact on the interiors—their vibrant colors and raw textures contribute to a distinct and energetic environment.
The existing masonry and concrete block construction was left intact inside and out. A new steel portal was added at the entry to provide cover and screening for rain and wind. As an architectural expression, a new white object was built in the center of the office to house the reception area and a private office. And throughout the space, the firm chose efficiency in maximizing space in creative ways. An oversized sliding door allows for private or open working options for the firm’s principal. Custom millwork designed by the architect makes up workstations, desks, tables, and workroom cabinets. Wood from a 150-year-old barn was included as work tables with rails in place of legs; the two tables can be separated for independent work or combined as a second meeting or breakout space. The result is an office concept that nods to the building’s storied history while incorporating modern design elements that bring the space into the future.