The new law firm offices have become edgier while maintaining professionalism.
Here since 1979 and in an office near the Statehouse since 1984, it was time for a change at BakerHostetler, which is one of 14 national offices. Making the move from State Street to Civic Center Drive was a decision Baker felt would benefit all.
“As our lease came up we decided to start looking for something maybe a little different,” says Partner Ron Linville. “(We) have worked with the city for a number of years and wanted to support the River South development. This building was recently purchased by Bob Myers (Bexley attorney) so we took a hard look at it and decided the location would be better for our folks and for clients.”
Working off of the theme “professional family,” a team of lawyers and designer Gensler out of Washington DC came up with an office that is both regal and trendy.
“They incorporated a little bit of the river, but really tried to make this a home for our professional family. We wanted it to be timeless and appropriate for (a highly ranked) law firm,” says Linville.
Reception is encrusted in light marble and rich, dark walnut. To the right is a 30,000-lb., free-standing marble staircase with a collection of Chihuly glass pieces in glass boxes of varying heights underneath.
“We sponsored a Chihuly exhibit with the (Columbus Museum of Art) many, many years ago and have had these for a bunch of years. Gensler came up with the ‘garden’ concept to show them.”
To the left is a collection of thin slats of angled wood behind the receptionist, which is a creative way to offer privacy to the conference rooms behind.
All of the wood in the office is from two walnut trees grown in the southern US. Instead of slicing planks, the trees were spiraled.
“The way they put it up is they unrolled the veneer off of the tree trunk—it goes up in exactly the way it came off the tree, all the way around the office including the doors of the individual lawyers’ offices. It’s just like a sheet of paper you rolled up and unrolled.”
The result is a long grain traveling from floor to ceiling where wood has been placed.
Around the corner, a spectacular view of the river is revealed. Linville says although Baker’s previous office was higher; the view is more beautiful in its new location because it isn’t too high to obscure the view. And, rather than reserve the most precious views for executive offices, the decision was made to give one of the best views to employees for an eating space.
The furniture and art around the office is modern—and perhaps more daring than one might expect in a law office.
“These chairs I was dead-set opposed to, but I think they really look cool,” says Linville. “This is why we had young people on the committee to help select the furniture. I got totally outvoted (on the chairs), appropriately.”
“We had a group of lawyers that worked together with the consultants to pick out the art. It’s a little edgier than it was in our old place, but I actually think it’s kind of cool,” he adds.
The art around the office is 70 percent local artists, including two Amina Robinson pieces. Linville says employees wanted to display thought-provoking, diverse and inclusive, Columbus-based artwork.
“We spent eight hours wandering around (asking) does it look good here, does it look good there—sipping on a beer as we did it.”
On two of four total floors, lawyers’ offices remain semi-private with glass fronts but closing doors.
“The way lots of people work these days is very open. We’re still in offices where we can shut doors, but a lot of the young lawyers like to work together, so we got a couple of (collaborative) rooms where they can put up a brief or put up exhibits for a trial on the screen, which for us is kind of cutting-edge,” says Linville.
He says everyone is thrilled with the new space—including the exterior.
“We’ve got our name on the outside of the building. How about that? We got the first choice (of sign placement). Something like that gets our crew all fired up. During Red, White and Boom Channel 4 would pan and there would be BakerHostetler. It doesn’t take much to get the lawyers fired up.”