October 23rd 2012

a sense of workplace – one

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This is the first installment of a three part series spotlighting the McAlpine office interiors – next week: McAlpine Booth and Ferrier’s Nashville office.

Our first office (shingle firmly installed by Bobby McAlpine in 1983) was a small space in a 1920s strip shopping center in downtown Cloverdale in Montgomery, Alabama. The space was lovingly dubbed the “cat box” due to its narrow fourteen foot width. That was the testing ground for our first five years.

Fast forward twenty-nine years, three different addresses and three additional partners later, we’ve truly found our home. Coincidentally, our current space is half a block up from our original office.

Our office is now located on the second floor of the Atlantic and Pacific Development, a new mixed-used development of our design. Built by the City Loft Corporation, it was honored with a Charter Award by the Congress of New Urbanism in 2008.


After entering through an oversized oak plank door, you’re greeted by an antique piece of machinery in our foyer. This metal intertwining of cogs, gears and whirligigs is, in actuality, the internal workings of a tower clock. Bobby eyed it inside a Paris shop, fell in love immediately – and promptly snatched it up. Antique steel windows, purchased on a similar impulse, grace the exterior walls of the building.
The main part of the space is an open studio where we hand-produce our drawings and details. Circulation and work stations are dramatically defined by tall panels of drapery. These fabric delineations work to create a calm, sanctuary-like haven, culminating in our conference area. Nestled beside the generously oversized fireplace, the round fruitwood table is flanked by cozy seating groupings from McAlpine Home. As a recent visitor said, “I don’t know how you get any work done here. It’s so serene, I’d just sleep here.” The spa-like ambience is purposeful; our collective work day is busy enough with the buzz of hectic activity. We don’t need the visual noise that accompanies most office environments.

If you’re ever in Montgomery, do stop by and pay us a visit. You can either take a nap or we’ll put you to work….

All photos by Kris Kendrick

4 comments

  1. When may I come for a visit?! Your office suggests a solution to our “space problem.”

  2. Terry says:

    Y’all teach a lesson that reminds me of “A Pattern Language 252. POOLS OF LIGHT” which starts out with this warning: “…Uniform illumination – the sweetheart of the lighting engineers – serves no useful purpose whatsoever. In fact, it destroys the social nature of space, and makes people feel disoriented and unbounded. …” Thanks for showing us.

  3. Count me in for a visit when I’m in town one day!

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