By Adrina Richard

Director of Auxiliary Services

Oglethorpe University

Atlanta, Georgia


A recent renovation of the Oglethorpe University admissions office dramatically improved space utilization while exposing to view the previously-hidden beauty of an older building. The old arrangement, a traditional build-out, didn't give admission's counselors the space needed and covered up lovely 100-year-old oak detailing. Switching to modular panels eliminated wasted space, making it possible to increase the working area for each counselor. At the same time, the new configuration exposed the lovely trim around the windows and ceilings of the building, providing an open space that is much more inviting to visit and work. Oglethorpe is a private, four-year, liberal arts university, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Barron's Best Buys says that Oglethorpe offers "one of the lowest private-college tuitions in the nation. Oglethorpe provides thirty-three programs of study and takes pride in balancing small class sizes with top-quality professors. About 96% of the full-time faculty holds a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field. In addition, as a member of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, Oglethorpe offers eight varsity sports for men and women. Most of Oglethorpe's students come from the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. The averageSAT score is above 1200 and the average GPA is typically above 3.5.The admissions office is located in a building that was originally constructed in the early 1900's. The ground floor where the admissions office is located has a high ceiling and a large amount of the original oak trim around the windows and ceilings. There are also oak columns and a large stone fireplace. The build-out that was previously used for the admissions office didn't go all the way up to the ceiling but was still high enough that it obscured much of the original detailing. Another problem with the original build-out was it required the use of conventional furniture which took up much of the available space on the main floor. The admissions officers felt like they were jammed into the remaining space.Oglethorpe hired a design firm, Financial Suppliers Atlanta, Georgia, to devise an alternative. The design firm recommended removing the conventional build-out and installing modular furniture to increase efficiency, of the layout. At the same time, the designers pointed out that the reduced height of the modular panels would a more open feeling and expose the lovely original details of the building. Financial Suppliers recommended modular panels from Mode Corporation, Sacramento, California for four major reasons:

1) Mode offers a very wide selection of panel configurations, including panels with curved glass windows that the design firm felt would provide a

very open Iook in this installation.

2) The color scheme of Mode panels can be easily changed in the future simply by installing new fabric inserts unlike other panel designs which

have to be sent back to the factory.

3) The Mode panels were less expensive than the other ones that were considered.

4) The solid workmanship and overall quality of the units gives the substantial look of built-in walls and doors.

Financial Supplier designers began by considering the needs of the individual users. They located each workstation so that its occupant would be located as conveniently as possible in relation to the people and equipment they work with frequently. They used the modular panels to define a rectangular closed in space that serves as the development office, a reception area and four cubicles for the seven admissions offices. While the new configuration occupies no more space than the old, it provides considerably more space because of the way that each piece of the furniture nests with each other and with the panels and the way that the panels take advantage of vertical space. The modular panels and furniture fit together perfectly, saving the boundary space that is wasted in a conventional build-out. Because Mode offers custom panels in any required size, not an inch of the available space was wasted. The panels allow shelving, lighting, cabinets and other options to be mounted on both sides and at any height. The panels even serve assupporting members for the furniture so that the furniture can have a smaller footprint than conventional designs while serving the same function. The designers used curved, tinted glass panels on the corners of each workstation in order to provide users with a sense of privacy while at the same time maintaining an open feeling. The curved glass panels give sensation of being in a large open room. People working in the cubicles can see people walking by and look up and see the beautv of the surrounding structure. A brown tone was selected for the tinted panels that brings out the dark wood in the building. In the development office, where entering students come to meet with counselors and fill out forms, tinted glass provides privacy while still maintaining an open feeling. Oglethorpe managers selected the colors of the fabrics on the panels to -match carpeting and other interior details.University management was pleasantly surprised with the speed and lack of disruption involved in installing the partitions. First of all, the Mode installers came equipped with a complete bill of materials and a CAD drawing that was keyed to each box, making it easy to stage the materials for rapid installation. Since 80% of construction time typically involves materials handling, this provided major time savings.The raceways provided with the partitions simplified the process of providing necessary power, telephone and data connections. All that had to be done was knock out spacers covering the pre-formed holes and install whatever type of outlet was needed. Having the wiring running through the partitions saved installation time, a-avoided problems with wire breaks and improved appearance. If in the future it is necessary to substantially revise the layout of the admissions office. Oglethorpe University will not be faced with the substantial expense of tearing out old offices and installing new walls to meet the new configuration. Nor will they have to deal the disruption of having workmen using noisy power tools or the inconvenience finding temporary quarters several weeks for the admissions office. Instead, they will be able to easily dismantle, and adapt their .modular panels and furniture to the configuration. Virtually any new, arrangement can be completed in a .-weekend, avoiding any disruption to the work of the department.

Needless to say, the employees love the new arrangement. The elimination of -the wasted space means that each counselor has about 50% more useful space in which to do- their job. The new modular offices receive natural light from the building' s windows and get the benefit of artificial- lights hung from the modular panels. The pleasing, comfortable environment the company has been able to create for its employees has, without a doubt improved employee productivity and and satisfaction.

For more information, contact: American Mode Inc., 197A Otto Circle; Sacramento, CA, 95822;

phone: 916-392-6633 or 888-711-6633; fax: 916-395-9308.

Internet: http://www.modeoffice.com