Commercial Architects at OTJ Share Benefits to Conducting Vision Sessions

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In today’s world, effective office design is two-fold: employees desire spaces that are both functional yet also unique. The talented professionals at OTJ Architects explain how conducting a vision session can provide a more thorough understanding of employee likes and dislikes when it comes to design aesthetics.

This session gives us a real-world glimpse of what type of space the client is looking for with direct comparisons to previous project work.

When beginning an interior commercial architecture and design project, the initial programming phase has long served to guide the direction of the design. But according to the commercial architects and design professionals at OTJ Architects, becoming increasingly popular – and effective – is the idea of taking the programming phase one step further by conducting a vision session.

The firm’s architects and designers have seen first-hand that one of the best ways to learn about an organization and its space needs is through full client interaction; conducting interviews with key personnel is fundamental to obtaining information regarding space usage, projected growth or organizational changes including the following:

  • Size, organization and function of departments;
  • Overall staffing and firm-wide services;
  • Requirements for offices, workstations and common use areas;
  • Requirements for feature areas and support spaces such as reception, conference, filing and storage; and
  • Adjacency priorities among various departments.

And while a program summary details all space requirements, a vision session can help to visually communicate design aesthetics for those same space requirements. The vision session, which showcases photos, drawings and specifications from previous projects, helps to determine various options for the overall look and feel of the new space. This collaborative meeting allows the project team to effectively discuss and target design objectives. Once the priorities of an organization’s vision are fully understood, the project team can apply this knowledge to the design and ensure the vision aligns with the overall project goals as well as the established budget.

“We use feedback from the vision session to document the project’s future direction with keywords and images and also update the programming materials if necessary,” said Lance Jaccard, Partner at OTJ Architects. “This session gives us a real-world glimpse of what type of space the client is looking for with direct comparisons to previous project work.”

Which is just what happened with OTJ client, Analytic Services, Inc. OTJ held a vision session for the group to review images from previous projects exemplifying the following areas of design: transparency, open areas, specialty spaces and company branding.

Staff members tagged each photo with a colored sticky note based on his or her preference - red for “dislike,” blue for “like” and yellow for “let’s discuss” – leading OTJ to discover that employees enjoyed the concepts of writeable surfaces, subtle finish palettes, a variety of seating types, workstations as communities/enclaves, library workspace and a reception area that doubled as meeting space. This vision session helped the project team understand the design goals of the organization’s employees, while also promoting ways to effectively utilize the space and achieve a decrease in square footage.

So, what are the results of thoughtfully designed office spaces that take into account the needs and wants of its employees? According to YFS Magazine, when employees enjoy a workplace concept that appeals to their senses and is conducive to smooth operations, they feel proud of working at a company that caters to their needs and values an environment that aids them in successfully accomplishing their work.

So when looking to renovate or re-design your existing office space, consider a vision session as a way to keep employees happy and spirits high – the dividends will be seen in increased productivity and improved recruitment and retention.

Contact OTJ Architects to discuss your architectural needs today.

About OTJ Architects
OTJ Architects is a well-respected national architecture and interior architecture design firm that has successfully completed thousands of projects throughout the country. Founded in 1990, OTJ is comprised of five studios headquartered in Washington, DC, with more than 60 architects and designers, many of whom are LEED Accredited Professionals. OTJ is registered in 37 states and is able to consult in all 50 states. The responsive architecture and interior architecture consultants create effective environments through listening, understanding and tailored design. These designs focus on helping clients enhance collaboration, company branding and employee recruitment and retention. OTJ’s design teams provide clients with personalized attention to create workplace solutions that reflect their unique, individual needs. For more information visit

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Liz Marshall
OTJ Architects
+1 (202) 621-1318
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