In design as in all business today, collaboration is both means and end

Kathleen A. Bartels | LLB Architects president and partner

Over the course of my two-decade-plus career, I have witnessed firsthand the shift from hierarchical, top-down organizations to dynamic, collaborative organisms. As an architect and business owner, I am on both sides – striving to create a workplace where creativity can thrive and helping clients do the same.

One of my first assignments in the mid ’90s was to lay out a Providence office with big private offices on the perimeter and cubicles in the middle. And the miles of file cabinets! Thankfully, the demands for paper storage have reduced, as have the traditional expectations for office culture.

Technology has been a key driver in that shift. Young designers join the firm equipped with advanced technical skill sets needed to execute our work. It’s essential to make space for them to share ideas with more-experienced colleagues, so we can maximize all our resources and talents. For us, that means creating meeting spaces and conference rooms of different shapes and sizes, and desk spaces big enough to pull up a chair or two.

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We work with institutions and organizations that serve every age group. Across the board, our clients are seeking innovative ways to break down barriers and make space for interaction, both structured and unstructured. It happens in libraries with maker spaces and group study rooms, in universities with student-faculty commons and in K-12 schools with project-based learning spaces.

I believe that inspired architectural design can transform an organization, but you must make space and accommodation for the future you envision.