Category: Construction Update

Work Well: Designing the Office of the Future

Work Well: Designing the Office of the Future

On In Construction Update

Gone are the days of low-ceiling office environments draped in beige hues and fluorescent light. Developers and business owners alike are realizing that good design is good business, and plays a vital role in both attracting and maintaining tenants and employees.

The new paradigm for office design includes:

— Innovative technological advancements

— New organizational models (think open floor plans, co-working spaces and private pods)

— Comfortable, home-like environments

— Elements that promote a healthier lifestyle

A grand porte-cochère welcomes guests at 50Fifty DTC.

Technology as Steward for Innovative Design
This shift in office design is not simply a trend; it’s a reflection of rapid technological advancements in architecture. From a software standpoint, CAD and energy modeling software have:  

— Accelerated the speed at which we can develop new ideas

— Simplified the realization of custom, innovative solutions

— Deepened our understanding of sustainability in architecture

The multi-faceted exterior of 50Fifty DTC is designed/oriented for passive temperature and lighting control—inviting solar heat gain in the winter and minimizing solar heat gain in the summer. This saves money for the client and reduces the building’s environmental impact.

From an engineering standpoint, advancements in glazing, acoustics, building envelope, floor plates, etc. invite continued architectural innovation.

— New fabrication processes and coatings allow for large glass panels optimized for insulation, reflectance and transmittance.

— Advancements in acoustic management and adaptive interior design support open floor plans and mixed-use office environments.

— An increased focus on material placement and building envelope promotes efficiency in architecture.

Through all of these advancements, we’re learning the benefits of daylighting, airflow and passive temperature control in contemporary office design.

“It’s paramount that employees have a connection to the outside environment. Through new technologies, we can take advantage of expansive Colorado views and natural light without compromising the efficiency of the building.”   —Robin Ault, Director of Design


In 50Fifty DTC, we used floor-to-ceiling windows and strategic lightwells to ensure that tenants have a continuous connection to the surrounding environment.

Shape Shifter: Designing for New Organizational Models
There’s no one-size-fits-all for the modern office. Instead, the layout includes a mix of area types that all serve separate purposes. Think: co-working spaces, open floor plans, collaborative environments, mixed-use environments, private pods.

As architects, it’s important that we understand the dynamics of a specific organization in order to create environments that are well tailored to their long-term needs. The primary questions we ask with every client are:

— What is the current workflow, climate and culture of your organization?

— How can we use design to support and/or shift any of the above?

— What are the primary functions of the space?

— What adjacencies will best support those functions?

— What level of privacy vs. collaboration is appropriate for your organization?

— How do you want people—executives, employees, clients, guests—to feel in the space?

In general, open floor plans feel bigger, simplify use of natural light and foster connection between employees. Fewer walls also equate to lower costs, allowing us to allocate additional resources towards furniture and finishes.

But, zero-wall office spaces aren’t appropriate for every organization. Not only do open floor plans present new challenges around acoustics and privacy, but they often weave disparate functions into a single environment, requiring us to employ alternative solutions (lighting, dynamic screens, etc.) to create nodes of space within.

“If people don’t feel good in their workspace, they will leave to find something that better fits their preferences and philosophies. Our goal is to create environments that benefit the organization within by promoting individual and collective well being.” — Kristen Tonsager, Head of Interior Design

For an upcoming project, we’ve employed sliding glass partitions to create different atmospheres within the central space while allowing for shared daylight throughout.

Your Home Away From Home
The average American spends more weekday, waking hours at work than at home, so it makes sense that we’re seeing an increased emphasis on comfort, atmosphere, materiality and craftsmanship in the work environment. We’ve created conference rooms that double as dining rooms, workspaces that feel like hotel lobbies, and far-from-utilitarian community environments marked by high-end detailing and luxury design elements.

More and more Denver companies are seeking out iconic designs that inspire and draw people in while more and more employees are seeking healthy work environments that mirror the comforts of home. It’s an exciting time to be in design.

The office kitchen and dining area at Fios Capital will feature high-end appliances and quality finishes typically found in custom homes.

Health-Conscious Design
Perhaps the most effective way architecture can be used to advance healthy work environments lies in creating continued opportunities for connection between indoors and outdoors:

— Expansive views

— Daylight

— Circulation of fresh air

— Outdoor walkways and/or work areas

— Rooftop gardens and terraces

Architecture can further promote employee well-being by supporting behaviors such as biking to work, taking the stairs, or seeking a moment of solace in the midst of a busy workday.

— An increasing number of Denver employees are commuting to work via bicycle, public transit or ride-share programs. This trend is expected to continue throughout the 21st century, and should be reflected in how we allocate space.

— No longer an afterthought in office design, stairwells can be used to promote movement while reducing energy usage and reliance on escalators/elevators. To encourage the climb, stairwells should be widened, centralized and finished with a level of detailing consistent with the rest of the design.

— Even collaborative workspaces should consider including separate pods or quiet rooms where employees can enjoy a moment of privacy, take a phone call, nurse a migraine or simply gather their thoughts.

The Hensel Phelps office redesign employs full-length skylights to pull natural light into interior spaces.

Interested in giving your office a modern makeover? Contact us.

50 Fifty Scheduled to Set Sail Fall 2018

50 Fifty Scheduled to Set Sail Fall 2018

On In Construction Update

With sweeping vistas of the Front Range, The Denver Tech Center is the city’s hub for business and economic trading. Shining brightly among the sea of office buildings is Clutch Design Studios’ latest project. Slated to open Fall of 2018, 50 Fifty is a Class AAA, 12-story tower with 185,000 SF of elegant design elements and world-class amenities.


The Concept

Our client approached us with the directive: “I’m not interested in designing just another building.” This set the stage for our team to innovate.

Inspired by the client’s love of sailing, the exterior evokes a feeling of looking over the edge of a ship to see the wake dissipate into the horizon. Inside, the design brings visitors “onto the ship” recreating the experience with a variety of marine-inspired materials, patterns, and finishes throughout.



The integration of natural light throughout the building—both interior and exterior—is a signature feature of 50 Fifty. In traditional office tower design, the interiors rarely get natural light. Clutch solved this common challenge by integrating two energy efficient East and West lightwells that illuminate almost every corner of the interior, including the restrooms, which have frosted glazing glass to let the sun shine in.

natural light coming through lightwells


Customer Experience

High-tech glass on the exterior creates an almost invisible boundary between the interior lobby and the exterior porte-cochere. As a result, the main lobby not only engages the tenants within the building, but also engages passerby on the street. Lobby lighting elements inspired by ocean wind current patterns suggest a strong sense of motion against a backdrop of chevron marble floors and wood accents.

high tech exterior


Design Challenges

Just as every project has its challenges, 50 Fifty was no exception. Our biggest hurdle was creating a remarkable lobby within a small footprint. The space wasn’t large enough for ample seating or restaurant, so we carved out purposeful areas to create a sense of place for those waiting for clients or an Uber. Throughout the design process, we designed several iterations of the lobby, and the final design and materials create a dynamic experience, utilizing a minimal palette that makes a big impression.

50 Fifty interior

50 fifty lobby

50 Fifty is scheduled to open in September 2018. Please follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on the grand opening date.


Project Features

  • The building has 6 stories of office over 8 parking levels (2 underground)
  • 30,500 SF of column-free floor plates
  • 100% covered, secured parking at 3.5 spaces per 1,000 SF
  • Common Conference Room
  • Collaborative Lounge and Work Space Areas
  • State-of-the-Art Fitness Center
  • Secure Bicycle Storage & Mechanics Station