NEWPORT BEACH, CA — H. Hendy Associates (Hendy), an interior architecture and planning firm, has completed the renovation of a center that integrates autism therapy and disability services with administrative offices for Easterseals Southern California, the local chapter of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit offering resources and services to 13,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families across the region.
Hendy led the interior and exterior renovation of the nearly 40,000-square-foot, two-story building. Hendy delivered on Easterseals’ two-fold vision to create a branded space that offers both an inviting and playful experience for special-needs clients and a functional space that enhances the wellbeing of its employees. The project earned Hendy the 2018 CoreNet Global Southern California Chapter REmmy Award in the Innovative Workplace Less than 50,000 Square Feet category. The award recognizes teams whose collaboration and vision on a specific project raise the bar for corporate real estate in Southern California, and bring innovation and sustainability to the workplace.
Inspired by the former Easterseals logo, a lily symbolizing growth and new beginnings, Hendy’s design incorporates greenhouse-motivated elements to metaphorically signify protection, nurture and growth from seedlings to full bloom. This theme can be observed in patterns of seeds and sowed fields crafted in plaster-covered walls throughout the building, the skylight-lit staircase with terrariums hanging from the walls and in the oversized photographs of floral blooms from local artist Laura Lejuwaan.
“With this new office, we did not want clients to feel like they were walking in a healthcare, corporate or institutional environment," said Sonaly Dudheker, Senior Associate at H. Hendy Associates. “Instead of a traditional lobby, we chose to add warmth and playfulness to the space, prioritizing comfort and the space’s durability.”
A primary challenge Hendy overcame when designing the center was creating a common space for two different entities serving diverse clienteles. To solve for this, Hendy created a lobby that forms a comfortable environment for the more than 100 people with autism served each day. The space also features greenhouse structure-shaped common areas and watercolor landscape prints by 9-year-old Iris Grace, an English child on the autism spectrum. The new branded corporate office space also enables Easterseals to perform daily administrative functions that will help further the company’s mission.
Easterseals’ mission and vision are infused throughout the building’s design. Upon entering the office, four pillars symbolize Easterseals’ foundation and core support areas: Live, Learn, Work and Play. The Resysta wood planks for the exterior cladding application are produced with fiber reinforced hybrid materials consisting of approximately 60 percent rice husks, 22 percent common salt and 18 percent mineral oil. This choice of material plays on the greenhouse theme as an environmentally friendly and weather-resistant alternative.
Inside, a brick wall dotted with clay pots of gradating sizes arranged in the sunburst pattern found on Easterseals’ newly introduced logo nods to the English garden walls. Behind the lobby stands a two-story mission-highlights wall beside an open staircase incorporating graphics that celebrate Easterseals’ mission statement. Additionally, the light fixtures sprinkled throughout the space emulate beehives and are representative of bees pollenizing the plant life and the continuity of growth. Each design element was intentionally chosen to honor and reinforce Easterseals’ values.
“What Hendy has done in support of Easterseals Southern California’s beautiful new Irvine building is truly remarkable,” said Mark Whitley, President and CEO of Easterseals Southern California. “We all love our new home, and it is an amazing place to come to work each and every day. Seeing our kids and their families benefit from the autism therapy center puts smiles on our faces, and our new space takes our mission-critical work to the next level.”
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