Timothy Hawk, FAIA, Wins AIA Ohio Mentor Award

August 7, 2020 • admin

Our President, Timothy Hawk, FAIA, was granted the AIA Ohio 2020 Mentor Award. Tim is committed to mentoring students and emerging professionals through his advocacy with the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and as a professor at Columbus State Community College. He has propelled the architecture and design industry through his service with AIA, culminating in his election to the National Board of Directors. Congratulations, Tim!

From AIA Ohio:

Columbus Architect Receives State Award

Columbus – Columbus architect Timothy Hawk, FAIA has been awarded the AIA Ohio 2020 Mentor Award.  This award is granted annually to an individual who has demonstrated the ability to assist and mentor in their community.  “The AIA Ohio Board of Directors was impressed by Tim’s dedication to the development of young people in the profession,” said AIA Ohio President, Mary Glowacki, AIA.

As principal at WSA Studio, Hawk mentors emerging talent through leadership training programs. As an educator at Columbus State Community College, he recognizes the importance of a diverse student population, and he encourages promising students to consider a future in architecture.  As a leader in the profession, Hawk has served his local AIA Chapter and at the Regional level, and now serves as a member of the AIA Board. As the National AIA Board liaison to AIAS, he mentors student leaders, and advocates for student voices.

As a state component of the American Institute of Architects, AIA Ohio represents over 2000 architects throughout Ohio.

Graphic Designers Tell All: Q&A with Carolyn and Jacob

July 23, 2020 • admin

WSA’s graphic design team, Carolyn Price and Jacob Strous, reveal how we collaborate with our partners to create effective branded environments.

How do you begin the environmental graphic design process with clients?

CP: At the very beginning of a project, we review and analyze both the client’s existing brand and their existing space. Through interviews and visioning sessions, we define the brand’s target audience, key differentiator, and cultural aspects. We establish how people will interact with the space and what challenges need to be addressed. The first objective is to understand what will make this project successful.

JS: It’s a collaborative process aimed at visualizing the unique traits of each client. We start by asking questions, lots of questions, with the goal of helping us understand the story and business case behind the environmental graphics. Once we lay the groundwork, we make sure to check in frequently with our client to collect and incorporate feedback into the work as we go along.

How do you visually represent a brand’s values and mission?

CP: After we outline the user’s journey through the space, we identify high-impact areas to place messaging and brand representations. We consider color, iconography, type, imagery, materials to bring the client’s brand to life in the space and create an experience that aligns with the company’s greater mission.

JS: A company’s values and mission are the guiding compass for our creative work. They set the tone for the visual brand language and serve as a benchmark to help us narrow down solutions.

How do you coordinate with the architecture and interior design of the space?

CP: The project team works in unison to incorporate a company’s brand experience into every detail of the space. We work together to specify wall finishes, power or data needs, and coordinate materials and finishes. This process ensures that the graphic design, architecture, and interior finishes are cohesive and on-brand. In the end, we save our clients time and money by providing a holistic, all inclusive design.

JS: Environmental graphics should work with the architecture and interior design of the space. It’s important to pay attention to details like color coordination and scale while also keeping in mind big picture items like traffic flow and intended space use.

How do organizations benefit from environmental graphics?

CP: Organizations need environmental graphics to infuse their space with their story, emphasize their values, and to make it uniquely their own. Environmental graphics not only add personality, but they are a functional tool that can improve workflow, boost employee mood, and guide visitors through the space.

What makes environmental graphics successful on a project?

CP: When an associate or visitor learns something new; When an installation becomes an Instagramable moment; When the branding makes someone stop and look; When it helps someone find a room; When someone knows they are in the right place.

Does your space tell your story?

Fill out the form below to schedule a free virtual consultation with our graphic design team.

Four Things to Think About Before Plastering Graphics on Your Wall

July 6, 2020 • admin

Before dedicating business resources and real estate to environmental graphics, there are several considerations that will help maximize the results. For example, what if your current brand no longer represents the philosophy of your company? We design comprehensive spaces that work for our clients, which means we analyze the physical space and the business operations, down to the company logo, to make sure every detail aligns to support the greater business.

Carefully and thoughtfully integrating environmental graphics with architecture and interior design delivers results. It’s so much more than plastering graphics on a wall. Here are four frequent questions we dig into with our clients before beginning any project:

Does your company have a clearly defined mission and values?

Expressing an organization’s mission and values is possibly the most important role of environmental graphics. Clear descriptions and visual reminders of a company’s determined goals lend a sense of purpose to the routine. An employee’s tasks and projects become steps to accomplishing a greater objective. Installations in the working environment can reinforce this connection and boost motivation, leading to a more productive workplace.

It is equally important to demonstrate these for clients and the public. Primarily because clients want to know how they benefit from working with you, but also because people care about what a company stands for and believes in. When clients visit your office, do they walk away informed about your company’s values?

How well does your current brand represent your company? Does it need refreshed?

Rather than brand our clients’ spaces with an outdated logo and message, we first evaluate the need for change. We survey employees and business owners to uncover the foundational values that guide how the company operates, and we inquire about the company’s persona. How long has the current logo been in use? Uncovering these answers in a collaborative process helps define the core philosophy of an organization. This, in turn, allows our graphic design team to translate concepts into a set of brand elements.

Working with Bathworks in 2019, Carolyn and Jacob heard the company’s emphasis on community roots, specialized knowledge, exceptional service, and family heritage. The new logo which stemmed from this discovery session references the Bathworks name and product line with a wave motif. It utilizes a friendly sans serif font and modern color palette. The mark is instantly recognizable and the full visual brand reads accessible and professional.


Who will interact with the graphics? Where will they interact with the graphics?

Think of every person who steps into your facility on a given day. From delivery carriers, hiring recruits, full time employees, clients, students, and industry partners, each person comes with their own expectations and needs.

Consider their different paths through the building. Wayfinding near entries, exits, departments, and amenities give users access to what they need and provides the most efficient experience for every user.

Where do employees find creative inspiration in the workplace? Where does group brainstorming take place? Messaging in these dynamic environments can propel activity and collaborative work. Installations could even serve functional purposes to support creative processes. Meanwhile, quiet focus spaces where employees hardly look up from their computer screens might not benefit from bold graphic installations.

What challenge needs solved?

Maybe visitors frequently get lost when navigating a building. Maybe employees feel uninspired in their current workspace. Environmental graphics can address both spatial and emotional needs when properly fused with architecture. Understanding the need helps determine the best solution. A successful space is one that works for users.

It’s More Than a Logo

June 25, 2020 • admin

Environmental graphic design is an investment in your people and your business.

People are good at making sense out of visual representations. An article from Ashford University states, “the brain is remarkably adept at discerning familiarity and meaning from patterns, abstract forms, and incomplete information.” In the workplace, environmental graphics utilize this implicit language, in addition to words, to support meaningful work. Spaces which integrate environmental graphic design with architecture and interiors drive higher levels of engagement and productivity.

Imagine this scenario:

A business owner hires an architecture firm to design a space. The design is award-winning, appeasing all working attitudes, styles, mannerisms, and departments with huddle spaces, open seating, and heads-down, private working areas. After the space is completed, the owner calls an environmental graphics team. They design award-winning, approachable, and engaging work, but they place it in the heads-down private area. While the work is beautiful and on-brand, the impact is lost and, in some cases, negates the purpose of the graphic elements. Employees are confused and less productive. The walls of the energetic, team-based working area are empty. The walls of the quiet, heads-down area are full. The lack of an inclusive, communicative team left both systems wanting.

WSA approaches design a little differently than other firms. We are driven by integration, and that’s not meant to be one of those buzz words that don’t mean a lot after a while. We have always believed in design that achieves organizational results. We dig in. We get to the core of the business in search for goals, targets, KPIs, and we make space that helps to hit those targets. That’s WSA. How do we do that? Well, the traditional approach is to do the design, bring various teams in to consult, and call it done. WSA has completely integrated these services. We don’t have an interior design department. We don’t have a graphic design department. We have a studio filled with all trades, working in tandem, so that, when the project is done, the investment shows… and it feels.

So, why is this important? WSA integrates graphic design into architecture for three reasons: integrated design guides employee behavior, adds organizational value, and, let’s cut to the chase here, cuts the cost.

Employee Behavior

WSA integrates graphic design into architecture, first, to help organizations guide employee behavior. When employees can see, feel, and experience an organization’s mission, research shows the employee-employer connection is stronger and engagement increases. In the above scenario, the architect’s task was to offer employees choices in their working conditions. To do this, the architect segmented the office to support different work styles, including functions for collaborative support as well as privacy integrations, like noise cancellation, to encourage focused work. The environmental graphic goal was to connect employees with the company’s energetic mission, driving a stronger sense of what their brand stands for and creating internal brand ambassadors who enjoyed their jobs.

The designers visualized the company’s values with large-scale iconography and abstract murals brought to life by the brand’s high-energy colors. Without coordination, the energetic graphics were placed in the quiet, heads-down corridor. Employees were confused and less productive because the walls of the energetic team-based working area were quiet, and the walls of the quiet heads-down area were loud. While the architects and the graphic designers both successfully solved the employee behavior problems they were tasked with, their solutions canceled each other out and rendered the space confusing and ineffective.

When working towards the same goals, architects and environmental graphic designers can clarify the function and role of various office areas, improving overall employee satisfaction and productivity. Imagine working at the office in the example above, but with one change: the high-energy graphics accented the dynamic collaborative spaces, and a calming blue paint underscored the quiet areas for focused work. Employees working in this environment could choose between two clearly defined and fully supportive work settings. This clarity and choice would increase employee satisfaction and drive productivity.

The photos below illustrate how WSA worked with State Auto Insurance to meet their employee driven goals when outfitting their Des Moines office. Notice in the first image how the energized workspace featuring different seating configurations and break-out spaces is highlighted by text and large murals connecting employees to State Auto’s mission. Notice in the second image how the quiet, blue spaces in the back are acoustically treated with closable doors, ceiling panels, and privacy screens. The quiet walls support the type of work that will happen in this room. Each of our architects, interior designers, and environmental graphic designers worked toward the same set of goals. The result is an environment that works to engage employees with their company’s mission while driving employee satisfaction and productivity.


Organizational Value

The second reason WSA integrates design is to add organizational value. Good design should function for more than one purpose, and, if it doesn’t, it’s unnecessary. In the above scenario, the afterthought addition of graphic elements on the walls of private offices offer one purpose: to take blank space and make it not blank. That’s nice, but is it worth the investment if it doesn’t also encourage groups to engage and devise the next great product? Afterthought design doesn’t motivate groups to come together, to be connected by the mission of their organization. Afterthoughts don’t exhibit confidence. And they don’t offer any thoughtful consideration for value propositions or engagement. A 2019 Gallup poll found that “organizations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors.” Why is this? Employee and customer engagement. What do employees experience when they come into work every day? What do partners and customers receive when they get to a space? It matters.

WSA believes that design is a long-term plan. Having intimate discussions about the deep roots of the business, accessing core beliefs, vision, and strategic mission guides our design instincts. We have a process that calculates the return on investment by using the organization as the benchmark. State Auto Insurance Companies exists because of a promise to serve the communities they’re in, stating “It starts with our smart, sincere and supportive people” as their foundation. That’s how WSA approaches the design of their spaces. Specifically, in Des Moines, we had all-hands-on-deck visioning sessions that approached the people first elements of the business, understanding that the ratio of employee engagement is directly related to the capacity to serve clients. Engaged employees spread positivity and confidence. Their clients feel that confidence and trust State Auto with their investments.

State Auto’s ROI Model

State Auto considers their business successful when they have and keep “smart, sincere, and supportive people.” That’s the baseline. How do we get that? Connected, engaged employees > clients who are confident about placing trust in State Auto’s employees > profitability > keeping “smart, sincere, and supportive people” from employees to clients. To boil it down, the investment in the WSA approach to integrated design ensures that model is successful because the process starts with the organization first.


Cost Savings

The third reason we’ve integrated environmental graphics into our process, and potentially the most important to many of our clients, is that the WSA approach to design is cheaper. In the above scenario, that business owner spent a lot of money. Depending on the square footage of the space, the technological demands, the furniture requirements, the structure, and a variety of other factors, the architecture alone is not cheap. The environmental graphic design, alone, is not cheap.

What goes into that cost? We bill our clients like most firms do: we calculate what it costs us to pay the people working on the project and we add on cost to support the overhead and profit functions of our business. How do environmental graphics organizations do it? The exact same way. So, when you pay for both firms separately, you’re paying for two sets of overhead costs and two calculations for profit. Why would you (a business owner) ever want to pay more money for a service that doesn’t give the best results? The answer: you wouldn’t. With WSA, you’re paying for the cost of the labor and one overall overhead cost. The best part is that you get a design that guides employee behavior and a return on your investment: an environment that works. And, you guys, it’s going to look good.

Why You Need Environmental Graphics

June 18, 2020 • admin

Branding your space for success.

Environmental graphics are important in shaping both the interior and exterior of a building. An organization’s facility serves as the physical experience of its brand. For example, every Apple store represents a consistent message and manifests a consistent experience across all locations for customers and employees.

A person’s surroundings have a measurable effect on the way they work, think, feel, and interact. WSA designs environments that influence positive changes for our partners, like increased productivity and employee satisfaction. As a physical representation of your organization, it is imperative that environmental graphics do the following:

Promote Community and Culture

CEOs report that attracting and retaining talent is a top business concern. Millennials report that meaningful work and a healthy interpersonal culture are top career priorities. One of the best tactics to draw in new employees and strengthen retention is to create a workplace culture filled with purpose. The workplace environment is the magnet that connects business owners and employees to a satisfying career and stable growth.

Bark represents its people and its values with a culture wall. The display is user-friendly so staff can update it regularly.

Immersing employees in the company mission brings individuals together to work towards a common objective. By stating a company’s mission statement and values directly on its walls, everyone is invited to participate in fulfilling them. The resulting pride and active participation in the workplace are attractive attributes to hiring candidates and yield greater retention rates. It makes it possible to hire people who will align with the brand and advocate for it.


Graphic installations at the RJE Columbus office reinforce the foundational beliefs that steer the organization and sets the expectation for all interactions: “Do what we say we will do.”

Create a Clear Brand Image

Good branding ensures there is no confusion about what a company believes in. A company’s image is derived from both the traditional graphic elements of its brand and its physical environment. These set an expectation for interactions with the company.

Employees and customers are attracted to organizations whose values align with their own. The environment should clearly express those values with imagery, words, and artful installations. A communal lobby provides opportunities to begin the brand experience in a captivating way, drawing in potential clients or hiring candidates. Environmental graphic installations can be positioned near exterior windows to reach the general public and spark curiosity in onlookers.

Brick House Blue takes advantage of public views, extending its brand experience to visitors at the Bridge Park development.

Express History

Employees want to see themselves as part of the company’s story. They want to know that they are making a noticeable, long-term impact. Honoring a company’s lineage and history creates a timeline that explains its present and inspires its future. It promotes the longevity and durability of an organization.

We worked with Bathworks to create a history wall in the lobby promoting its deep Columbus roots. The company is an established part of the community, with a long precedent for service and local rapport. These pillars of the Bathworks brand are made clear to store patrons and employees upon entering the space.

Educate and Inform

Environmental graphics are an impactful educational tool. Many people consider themselves to be visual learners. From museum displays to elementary schools to hospitals, environmental graphic design simplifies complex information and visualizes it in the physical world. In highly technical industries, providing bite-sized information in everyday language can help customers understand the services and benefits offered by a company.

Safelite adopts large-scale educational graphics and interactive displays in its Customer Experience Center to engage customers while walking them through the Safelite process. Custom digital panels invite users to learn about the full services offered.

Rendering created in collaboration with White Design Studio.

Influence the Experience of a Space

Environmental graphics enhance the experience of a space by aligning the mood with the purpose of each environment. A library’s quiet study room might utilize calm colors and minimal, lightweight materials to help users focus. A trendy bar may feature large branded slogans and quirky installations made of neon tube lighting to give users a more energetic and memorable experience. A corporate office might introduce natural elements with a live green wall to bring tranquility indoors. People enjoy spending time in a place when it supports the experience they want to have.

PENZONE Salon + Spa uses environmental graphics to create an empowering experience for its clients. Positive affirmations, created in collaboration with Green Street Design, communicate the company’s mission with clarity. Placing these environmental graphics in highly visible locations along the client’s path enhances client comfort as they navigate through the space. A sense of personal connection and empowerment attracts customers to the salon.


Five Applications of Environmental Graphics

June 11, 2020 • admin

Immersive, effective environments are magic.

When you think of graphic design, you might think of a logo on a website or an advertisement in a magazine. But do you think about graphic design in the physical environment? Graphic design elements like words and typography, images, colors, shapes, logos, and signs can be fabricated and installed throughout a building to enhance the experience of being inside it. These installations create meaningful and engaging interactions between people and their surroundings. Immersive, effective environments are magic. WSA creates them by connecting visual communication and architecture to create an immersive, effective environment.

At WSA, we’ve pinpointed high-impact methods of integrating environmental graphics and architecture. These are the five most common ways we use environmental graphics to improve the experience of our clients’ spaces:

Wayfinding in the Built Environment

Directional signage makes a frequent appearance in everyday life. It directs people on the right path, improving traffic flow and avoiding frustrating inefficiencies. An effective wayfinding sign is one that you don’t have to think about because it feels like it’s supposed to be there. It instantly communicates information that makes life easier. This type of environmental graphic design is vital for our clients in corporate office high rises and universities, where hundreds of people navigate various departments and services daily.

We combine architecture and environmental graphics to create well-defined paths and help orient people within a space. For example, the Point at Otterbein University features a bold statement soffit with angular red points hanging over the lobby. This recognizable feature marks this space as the center of the renovated warehouse, serving as a landmark that invites energy and helps students find their way back to the center. The halls of the Point utilize frosted vinyl arrows overlaid on the glass corridor walls to guide through the building. The implicit messaging subtly moves students through their day.


Architectural Brand Identity

This is where the traditional role of graphic design comes in. Every company should have an identifiable logo, color, and font that reflects its message. These visual symbols form immediate meanings and set expectations within a company.

While a logo is commonly seen in promotional print and digital media, it’s also important for organizations to utilize their visual brand within their physical facilities. Organizations can utilize the logo and visual standards to create a cohesive brand experience within their own facilities.

Organizational Mission and Values

Connecting people to a sense of purpose is a top priority for a healthy workplace culture. It can even speak to clients, reinforcing your message on every level of interaction. Environmental graphics can achieve this with visual representations of an organization’s mission applied throughout the workplace. In the image on the left, Encova Insurance showcases its historic rebrand with interior wall murals, drawing users into the Encova experience. The Ohio Mutual Insurance story is delivered with reinforced mission and values throughout the space (right).

When employees are more engaged with the mission and values of their company, they are more productive at work.


Interactive Technology

Using digital technology is a highly effective way to engage people in your space. Digital screens are versatile tools that engage users with the space by providing interactive means of communication. Videos and other media can be easily swapped for different occasions.

Interactive displays invite users to touch, watch, and listen, making them an engaging learning tool. This direct engagement remains in the memory for longer, increasing name recognition and the ability to recall information. At Otterbein University, we incorporated digital wayfinding at the entrance of the Point. A large touch screen map and directory helps guests and students easily navigate the renovated warehouse.

Product Promotion

Raise awareness of new products and services with a promotional display. The Forge showcases product prototypes in the office lobby to demonstrate the technical creation process to clients. This type of environmental graphic design allows organizations to express their selling point by showing a physical example of their work.

The Bathworks showroom features interactive product displays which allow customers to test working fixtures. High-end bathtubs bubble away on a raised oak platform which conceals the plumbing lines and becomes the center of the showroom. Another environmental installation highlights the Bathworks brand by framing a network of copper pipes behind the drywall. A functioning shower display invites customers to push buttons and get a first-hand feel for their at-home shower experience before purchasing. Bathworks displays its products to display trust.


Meet the Graphic Design Team

April 15, 2020 • admin

Meet our graphic design experts who integrate seamlessly on projects.

WSA has always been concerned with designing the best user experience that delivers business results for corporate and academic organizations. As our clients’ partner in productivity, we have taken another step towards a fully integrated design process that combines architecture, interior design, and graphic design.

Our environmental graphics team uses a variety of physical and digital mediums to communicate information, identify a brand, and enhance the experience of a space. They are involved in every detail of projects, carefully researching, planning, and delivering meaningful and engaging interactions between people and their surroundings.

If you haven’t met them already, we are excited to introduce Carolyn Price and Jacob Strous, the graphic design team at WSA. Carolyn brings a decade of experience designing and implementing graphics for top organizations around the country. Her knowledge of building materials and relationships with construction partners complements her aptitude for visual communication. Currently, Carolyn is working with Encova Insurance to implement new building signage and interior installations that represent the company’s new brand.

Jacob combines his right-brain creativity and his left-brain reasoning to blend imaginative ideas with strategic thinking. He partners with clients to help establish their goals while visualizing their message with clarity. Jacob is currently developing a logo and a set of graphic brand standards for a new event center in Columbus.

Environmental graphic design connects visual communication with our award-winning architecture and interior design to create an immersive, effective environment.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a video chat with Carolyn and Jacob below.

Columbus ADDY Awards 2020

March 3, 2020 • admin

The WSA Rebrand received Gold at the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Columbus ADDY Awards. Can you tell how pumped we are?

This year’s jury featured notable award-winning creatives from around the country: art director and illustrator Cheryl Cook, director and cinematographer Chris Anthony Hamilton, Lars Lawson, Founder of Timber Design Company, and Charlyn Villegas, Co-Founder of Four Winds Creative.

Thank you to the jury for recognizing the boldness of the new WSA. And huge shout-out to FORT and Versatile Words for listening and helping us to create this brand that we have adopted and shaped into what makes us WSA: provocative, humble, sharp, and driven.

P.S. Our very own Carolyn Price designed the AAF Columbus event graphics, signage, and awards book.


7th Annual Chili Cook-Off

February 28, 2020 • admin

Each year, WSA employees ward off the winter blues by competing for the perfect chili recipe. Our friends help us out by tasting each (mostly delicious) entry and deciding which one comes out on top. This year, Joseph Cabalquinto of State Auto Insurance, Elaine Isabelle of Shaw Contract, and Greg Davis and Matt Pickens of Roberts Service Group served as our guest judges. The stakes were high; Joseph is a foodie and dabbles as a chef.

We were all impressed with the quality of each chili this round. With thirteen entries, from Grandma’s secret recipe to Emeril’s vegetarian chili, our bellies were full of good food. Our recently hired staff are also cooking connoisseurs and they brought out the big guns with smoked poblanos, bacon bits, and pieces of seared steak.

The final verdict: Tianna Williams is the 2020 Chili Cook-Off Champion! As our newest employee, Tianna was not afraid to show us who the chili boss is. She brought depth to her traditional recipe with complex flavors and balanced textures. What did Shrek say? People are a lot like chili? Close enough.

Columbus Home & Garden Show 2020

February 25, 2020 • admin

WSA partnered with the Columbus Dispatch and Columbus Zoo & Aquarium to design the feature home exhibit at the 2020 Spring Home and Garden Show, the largest Dispatch event of the year.


Inspired by classic Adirondack cabins, the design team created this A-frame lodge display with sustainable living in mind. The structure is made of reclaimed Ohio barn wood and metal roofing, courtesy of the Mount Vernon Barn Company. The live garden and “outdoor” pedestrian path, created in collaboration with Vaughanscapes, features bee and bat sanctuaries and other plant elements that support wildlife. A forest mural is painted on recycled billboard by local artist Lauren Mitro. We carefully selected these components of the design to support environmentally conscious initiatives.


WSA’s Carolyn Price designed educational signage and environmental graphics about Ohio’s native plants and animals. The interactive pathway is dotted with graphics, cardboard critters, and signs that invite guests to look, touch, read, and learn. The walk through the live garden (a welcome experience in February) finishes in the Adirondack lodge. Inside the structure, we partnered with Davis Rogers Interiors and Elm & Iron to create a cozy cabin dwelling. Carolyn’s signage continues into the space to reveal the origin of the structural materials and to tell the story behind the exhibit.

Our feature space also hosted meet & greets with celebrity guests Restored by the Fords, Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict, and Jack Hanna.

Check out the time lapse video of the first few hours of construction below.

Celebrating Our People

February 2, 2020 • admin

87% of millennials report career development opportunities are important to them. Today we celebrate the growth of our people and their professional accomplishments.

First, Jess Hamann has been promoted to the position of Design Manager. If you’ve worked with Jess, you know that her aptitude for interpersonal relationships is complemented by her strong design skills. As a leader in interior design, she has a deep understanding of industry practices, trends, and the practical application of design. You can count on Jess to hear your needs and translate them into a space that works for your organization.

Now, Paige Schmeling. She is officially a licensed architect! As a young professional, she has learned about the full practice of architecture through mentorship and first hand experience. Her technical knowledge and design proficiency is backed by her professional registration. This is another step on the journey of becoming the world’s greatest architect.

Congratulations to these two for their hard work and dedication to design.

Upstart Columbus Headquarters

December 24, 2019 • admin

The new Upstart location was named one of Columbus Business First's "Cool Offices."

Upstart, a tech-based lending company from San Mateo, California, has officially opened its new headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. This innovative company utilizes artificial intelligence to create an automated, equitable lending process. WSA worked with Upstart to design their new space in the 711 N. High Street building in the bustling Short North neighborhood. The design features blended workspace, with open desks punctuated by comfortable break-out seating for quick collaboration, and several conference rooms for focus and privacy. The glass facade allows natural light to filter into each corner of the office and provides unique views of the city.

Upstart strategically chose Columbus for its second location, due to the rapid growth of the city and a high concentration of talented professionals. In its first year, the company has already surpassed its hiring goal of 100 employees in Columbus in 2019.

Read more about the Upstart Columbus office in Columbus Business First.


COhatch Expanding to Indianapolis

December 24, 2019 • admin

COhatch, the largest coworking company in Columbus, is making its first out-of-state expansion. WSA is partnering with COhatch and Brand Stamp to design their latest office hub in Noblesville, Indiana, a suburb just north of Indianapolis. The space is conveniently located in Hamilton Town Center, with access to retail and dining within walking distance. As coworking sweeps the professional world, COhatch offers a unique concept that focuses on community first. By utilizing existing spaces, each location features a distinct aesthetic and amenities, in addition to the shared benefits available to members.

Read more about the expansion in Columbus Business First.


Renderings created in collaboration with Brand Stamp.

Welcome to the New WSA

December 7, 2019 • admin

Remember that secret we had? We're finally ready to tell you.

Hey. Hi. Welcome. As you know now, you’re on our new website. Friends, we’re so sorry to have teased you for so long, but don’t you think it was worth it? Now snuggle in; we have a story to tell.


It all started last year when WSA teamed up with our friends at Venn Growth and we told them the things we’re good at, the things we could improve on, and the things we hope to become. From there, we partnered with FORT to create what we consider to be the most beautiful website, logo, and brand. Then we created a solidified firm direction, complete with a set of WSA core values and a mission that we are so, so proud of.

It’s important to say that this process has been a long time in the making and it’s a direct reflection of the support and encouragement we have received from our partnerships. We are so thankful and so excited to share this with all of you.

Now to the good stuff. We want to tell you everything.

First, we have formalized values and a mission that are acting as our guiding force moving forward. These core values are cultivated from many years of loyalty, both internally and from all of you.

  • Disruption. We hire and collaborate with bold, confident, and diverse personalities to challenge existing structures, to encourage new ideas, and to invite a positive organizational climate.
  • Accountability. We are a team dedicated to and supportive of one another and our clients.
  • Design. We believe that diverse, inclusive design has the potential to bring life to culture, values, and community.

Now, allow us to introduce our new mission statement:

WSA is committed to providing organizations with a thoughtful design that works by researching organizational behavior, providing leadership, and creating experience.

Second, we want to share with you a new service we’ve added to our team. We now offer environmental graphic design. We have found the element of storytelling is differentially important to both us and our clients, so we went and found the best environmental graphic designers out there and scooped them up.

Third, let’s talk about this logo for a second. It is bold and endearing and not easily forgettable. It reflects elevated energy and outcomes and that is exactly what we want to offer the organizations with which we work. It is exactly what we wanted. #grateful

Now, the website: it is the epitome of WSA. Approachable, interactive, provocative in all the right ways. Please take a look, stay awhile, read about our work, interact with the projects…. Just dig in there. Let us know what you think.

So, what can you expect from us now? More. Just more. We have big plans we’ll start to implement through 2020, leading up to our 50th anniversary. We have new product offerings we’re rolling out over the course of the year and, believe us, you’ll be the first to know about it, about all of it.

To sum all of this up, this journey has been cool. It’s as simple as that. To our current and future employees, buckle up. To our current and future clients and partners, we’ve got your back, always.

See you out there,

The New WSA

Ingredient 7: Location, Location, Location

December 4, 2019 • admin

Consider these factors when determining the best location for your new innovation center.

Real estate agents are quick to remind us that when looking for a home, the decision is all about location, location, location. There are obvious reasons for this: there is nothing like an ocean view, a great school district, or a place within a great neighborhood.

Determining the right location for you and your family is a difficult decision. There are so many factors that lead you to the best location. There are also consequences to that decision that may not be anticipated. What if the perfect home and location comes with noisy neighbors and a basement prone to flooding? It isn’t until after your decision has been made that some of these unanticipated consequences of the perfect location come to light.

The same challenge comes true when planning for your organization’s innovation center. Location is one of the most important decisions in the planning process. Determining to build on-site or off-site is critical to a center’s success. What type of community connection are you looking to achieve? A center’s location ties directly to branding and story, yet the location is always decided upon prior to getting an architect involved.

Keeping your innovation center “in-house” (within your current facility) or “out of house” (a satellite location) has a serious impact of the center’s success. Below are some challenges and opportunities to consider:



  • The location is convenient. Being downstairs or down the hall makes creating an innovation center appear easier.
  • The real estate cost is low. You already own the square footage; you only need to take advantage of it. A new attitude and some small renovations spurs the creation of an innovation center.
  • Show off space: a shiny, new innovation center in house creates a show off space for all visitors to your organization.  With the new buzz of the company’s new venture all kinds of people (media, competitors, clients, potential employees, etc.) will want to come check out what you are up to.  There is no better way to show how forward thinking your organization is than with a brand new space that promotes new ideas.
  • Statement of Commitment: there is no better way to show your employees, clients, and competitors your level of commitment toward innovation than to spend hard earned capital towards a new space that challenges the status quo.


  • Isolated by security: one of the first mistakes that many organizations make is to put their new and shiny toy behind locked glass walls.  Security of new innovative ideas becomes paramount and suddenly is only accessible to a few.  Not everyone in the organization is allowed to be innovative – only those with security access.
  • Separation from tradition: being an on-site innovation center is easy to create but faces challenges of identity. Being downstairs or down the hall makes it difficult to separate from the mothership and break away from the view point that lead to the need for innovation in the first place.
  • “Cool kids only”: a flexible, hip space with the latest technology that is locked away can create a “cool kid mentality.” A space that is designed to bring people together for collaboration suddenly makes only a certain few feel comfortable.  Certain teams that are assigned to the space become territorial.
  • Animosity amongst the ranks: a new show piece filled with the cool kids may create animosity among different groups in your organization. Innovation spaces tend to focus on technology development which segregates those not involved. Your sales team, accounting group, or older staff may sense a lack of support. All the buzz and capital is focused towards a single group and space can send the wrong message to others not directly involved.



  • Creates a destination.
  • Organized independence: with an off-site location, the independence from the home office allows freedom and the chance to change culture. With this independence, planning must be in place on the reporting structure to keep this new venture organized and focused on its mission.
  • Sense of importance: an off-site location provides the opportunity for groups to be invited and explore challenges outside of their daily routine. Being invited to participate reinforces an employee’s sense of importance to the organization.
  • Work is valued: if your innovation space is expected to push the organization forward, choosing certain work to explore shows that work, and the employee doing that work, respect and value. All employees hope their work is valued by their organization and nothing says that more than being invited to share it at the new innovation center, the space that is relied upon for some of the most important work being created.
  • Extending the brand: an off-site location extends your organizations brand to the public in a new way. An alternative interface is an opportunity to become more community based and attract diverse talent from what your original culture provides.


  • Less monitoring: We all know that saying, “when the cat is away, the mice will play.” In other words, who will hold employees accountable for the work? Communication with the home office must be seamless.
  • Real estate costs: an off-site location is an additional cost from the real estate side. Now you are a tenant in someone else’s building with less control on what happens around you. There are additional risks with additional leases and vendors to handle all that comes with an off-site location.
  • Advanced integration planning: How do you create independence yet maintain culture and connectivity? Planning out the first six months of a transition is critical. How will folks travel back and forth? Are there liaisons? Will off-site employees attend all office events at the home office? There are all kinds of logistics that must be supported and planned. Don’t wait until it happens to figure it out.
  • Transition period: the first six months are critical because people are figuring how this new space works and how to work within it. Give them time and plan for limited results in the first six months. Things go wrong; they always do. An innovation center, if built for the right reasons, is a long-term investment so have some patience and provide support.

These pros and cons should be considered, but ultimately, the decision you make about the location of your center should be the one that is the most effective for your organization. Put some weight on this conversation and use this list as a guide. An innovation center is a place for forward thinking, so the choice to make one is always a good one.

Ingredient 6: Collaboration

December 3, 2019 • admin

Human interaction encourages new ideas that drive innovation.

Collaboration is a buzzword that is widely overused when we discuss innovation. Teachers want their students to be more collaborative, employers pay bonuses based upon collaborative initiatives, and corporate leaders believe that collaboration can spur effective work process. But, hasn’t there always been some form of collaborative process? As our society has matured, have we not had collaboration to support basic initiatives and propel innovation? Of course we have had collaboration in the past, or great ideas would not have been propagated. I might argue that collaboration has always been at the core of organizational success. Look to Ford Motor Company, where team processes helped to drive production capacity on the initial assembly line. These workers were clearly collaborating to assemble vehicles. However, the collaborative process is much different than the type of collaboration that we reward today.

Twenty-first century collaboration is rooted in the belief that we are better off in the long run when we put our great minds together to solve big, audacious problems. In design, architects are working to engage a diverse array of partners to consider the future of our built environment. We know that we are best when we hold a broader conversation and recognize that our buildings will be better when these larger considerations are folded into the program. Architects design benefits from collaboration, and knowing this, we seek to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration when we design environments to spur innovation.

Through our research and practice, our team has discovered that we need to support collaboration to drive innovation. Without collaborative process, the speed at which new ideas are tested is slower and what might have been an innovative concept becomes yesterday’s news. In the design of our innovation centers, we have been able to experiment with new collaboration concepts. Interestingly, we have found that the key to collaboration is to provide a variety of spatial options. Yes, you need to provide open office environments which increase visual access to process, but interestingly, private, individual space is vital to collaboration. When we are solving challenges, we need areas to come together, and then places where we can focus. These differing environments help to support an iterative process, where concepts are analyzed and then tested and fit. Collectively, we get closer to the answers we seek, and the speed is fueled by the various environments, and especially the private enclaves which foster focused, individual work.

Historically, facility managers have resisted the multiplicity of space types, in large part due to the fear that space needs may increase real estate costs. Naturally, corporations have little interest in shifting their investments towards greater rental rates, so architects and designers have had to do more within the same footprint. Our recent work innovation centers have shifted space historically dedicated to individuals towards spaces supporting collaboration. If we would have assigned 64 assignable square feet to each worker yesterday, today we limit that allocation to 36. This allows 28 assignable square feet to be added to conference rooms, casual collaborative areas, amenity space, private enclaves, and the broader public realm. Recent projects have featured phone booths, small private meeting areas, and work areas with adjacent group-work tables. Mobile users are encouraged to use each space as they see fit to collaborate, retreat to privacy, and then reconvene. Our client attest that this strategy is driving results. Quality is on the rise, and innovative results are being modelled throughout their organizations.

So, what will be next? What will drive innovation in the future and how can collaboration be encouraged? Certainly, technology will play a role in shaping our future, and advances will increase the need for new design solutions. But, we also recognize that human interaction is key and will always fuel collaborative process.

Otterbein and Corporate Partners

December 3, 2019 • admin

Otterbein University adds corporate partnerships at the Point.

The Point at Otterbein University serves as a model for the future of work and learning. It houses unique spaces where business meets hands-on education in the form of student internships. Most recently, Otterbein partnered with JPMorgan Chase to create a financial technology innovation center where students can work alongside Chase employees to research and develop inventive technology solutions. These corporate sponsorships are mutually beneficial, as the rented work spaces provide revenue for the University, professional experience for students, and the opportunity for businesses to recruit talented students as full-time employees. The City of Westerville also prospers with greater economic development as more corporations are established within the municipality.

Read the article from ThisWeekNews.

Knoll Chicago Showroom Tour

December 3, 2019 • admin

We toured the new Knoll showroom in Chicago. Here's what we saw.

Our clients and friends at RJE Business Interiors welcomed the WSA Studio team on a tour of the new Knoll showroom in Chicago. The iconic furniture manufacturer recently moved from their long-time home at the Merchandise Mart, and is now located in the Fulton Market District.

We got an inside look at new furniture products and interior design trends, including Scandinavian-inspired aesthetics, incorporation of natural materials, and felt pastels. The showroom also affirms WSA Studio’s belief in providing workplaces with a variety of settings that meet different needs throughout the work day. Employees are more engaged and can work more efficiently when they have access to both collaborative open office spaces and quiet individual focus rooms.

This whirlwind day trip was not only educational, but it was a total blast to hang out with our gracious RJE Columbus partners. We managed, of course, to fit in a hip lunch spot and happy hour cocktails. The definition of business and pleasure.

Ingredient 5: Access to Technology

December 2, 2019 • admin

There is no denying technology's role in spurring innovation. Integrating tech into work and learning spaces requires special design consideration.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” – Albert Einstein

Technological advances generally create an emotional response from people. Some view technology as a source of evil which separates us from one another, while others view it as a method to bring people together and to help solve some of our greatest challenges. Regardless of what you believe, there is no denying that technology is not going away. It is here to stay and demands that we address its implications.

As a young boomer, I feel like I have been able to watch the progress of technology and its impact on our culture. Largely, technology has impacted the ways in which we build community, either within organizations or across vast geographies. Technology tools, beginning with the invention of the telephone, have transformed the concept of connecting and accelerated the pace of society. Information is quickly disseminated by voice or video, and we are now able to connect across distances in real time. We gain access to information, and we can see and hear colleagues in ways considered futuristic just twenty years ago.

But, technology alone does not build understanding or enrich our knowledge. We need settings to support this exchange and drive the impact of technological tools to be effective. Recently, our designers have been experimenting with embedded and fully integrated technologies, mobile equipment solutions, and technology as the message. We have found that no one solution works best. The most successful solutions typically harness a hybrid approach utilizing a wide variety of technological strategies.


When a space demands a high level of reliability to support focused activities, we will specify embedded, hard-wired systems with fiber support and user-friendly interfaces. This scenario is the most robust and often comes with a hefty price tag, but also offers the highest level of impact. The advantages of a highly sophisticated, integrated technology program are its reliability, dependability, and simplicity. Users don’t have to worry about the system, since it is set up for success. The interface is consistent and dependable. On the other hand, these systems often become embedded dinosaurs as technology advances. Due to the significant financial outlay to embed the “latest” technology, organizations often resist updates in favor of leveraging their investment.


Once again, the old standby audio/visual cart is popular. Consumers who recognize the speed with which technology advances often prioritize mobility to minimize their initial financial outlay. Savings are invested in emerging technologies as they daylight, keeping organizations on the cutting edge of technology tools. In these scenarios, we find that the space needs to be designed to accommodate technology furniture. Lighting controls are often important, since adjustments may need to be made to address the changing needs of the mobile technology tools as they come and go from spaces. Wireless connectivity is vital, and access to power and network connections are also strong considerations. These criteria may increase visual clutter in the designed environment, and be at odds with the aesthetic sensibilities of the consumer. Most often, we specify mobile technology tools in spaces where technology is supplemental to collaborative settings and serves a supporting role.


Our environment is filled with visual messages. Billboards rotate digital displays which draw our attention, storefronts pulse and glow to peek our interest, and we are bombarded with messaging on our personal devices. It is a non-stop barrage and we begin to expect these messages and miss them when we encounter spaces without visual support. Classrooms, auditoriums, lobbies, stores, sanctuaries, and hospitals are almost always augmented with screens. But, until recently, these screens have been active background noise, offering a one-way distribution of third-party information and broadcast media.

Tomorrow’s environment expands visual display beyond the box and offers opportunities for scalar interaction. Visual display will come and go to augment our interactions in a fully integrated yet virtual format, and it will seem odd that we once were bound to the confines of a fixed screen for interactive support. We see it coming, and have begun to consider the design of spaces to support these eventualities. We know the power of these technology tools, and recognize that they need to co-exist with the balance of the designed environment. If we deny the possibility, we are assured that spaces will be overpowered by the formidable power of advanced technologies.

We are called to lead the integration of these future technologies and the time is now to step forward and consider the possibilities.

Fuse as a Philosophy

December 2, 2019 • admin

Fuse is designed as a satelite innovation center for Cardinal Health’s technology development team. WSA Studio worked with Fuse Vice President Brent Stutz to create a place that would incite change in the overall workplace culture at Cardinal Health. The design features a central open office concept with surrounding conference rooms and flexible offices that allow employees to choose the environment that best suits their work needs throughout the day. As a result, employees spend more time in collaborative conversations and brainstorming sessions, leading to better solutions. In describing Fuse, Brent says: “This is more than a building; it’s a philosophy.”

Read the article from the Columbus Dispatch.

Thermal Comfort at Work

November 29, 2019 • admin

Each individual feels temperature differently. How can we design spaces where everyone is comfortable?

When my family would visit my wife’s grandparents during Christmas, we had an agreement that whoever arrived first would adjust the thermostat. While the warmth of the indoors is usually comforting in December, it was just too jarring to walk into a 76 degree house wearing several layers of winter clothing. Those of us who were younger would commiserate about our discomfort until the indoor air temperature finally cooled off.

When we design office environments, we consider the factors which impact the thermal comfort of those who use the space. Temperature is just one concern. Air movement in the space, drafts, and the distribution of air from HVAC systems can have a significant impact on thermal comfort. If the ambient temperature is 74, but there is a draft, the room may feel cold. Likewise, if it is 70 degrees, but there is no air movement in the space, it may feel stuffy and warmer than it should. Humidity is another factor under consideration here.

The challenge to ensuring all employees are comfortable in their workplace is that each individual feels temperature differently. Some may feel too warm while others are too cold in the same space. Lida Lewis points out that our activity level can contribute to our thermal comfort in an article for Work Design Magazine. If someone is active as part of their job duties, they will be warmer than those who sit and review data all day. If these folks are in the same space, those with the sedentary tasks will run cooler. Additionally, studies show that people with lower metabolic rates will measure colder.

Designing for Personal Comfort

So how are we to design spaces for comfort with the vast array of factors at play and the wide-ranging demand on employees, not to mention personal preference? At WSA, we are exploring this topic and have found that the design considerations which best address personal comfort are similar to those which improve workplace happiness and effectiveness in various other ways. Thermal comfort results from a more rigorous consideration of the individual needs of users.

It all comes down to allowing personal choice for the occupant. If an employee is tethered to a space and has no way to modulate their personal space, they will be challenged to find comfort and develop a negative reaction to the design. Some may like to sit adjacent to an outside wall during the winter to stay cool, but shy away from this same space in the summer. Fixed locations for employees can contribute to discomfort since the individual is not able to address their individual comfort. A mobile workplace allows individual employees to modify their environment to address their own individual comfort level, leading to improved focus and mood. Likewise, if we can provide individuals with the ability to adjust window shades, crack a window, manipulate HVAC delivery systems, or find an additional source of warmth, their individual comfort will improve, and we may make them much more effective as they go about their workday.

Another consideration is the type of HVAC system that is specified. Traditional air delivery systems are zoned and seldom offer the ability to adjust the temperature in targeted areas. Even when variable air volume systems are added, the individual control is limited. Other systems, such as the variable refrigerant flow (VRF), can offer the ability to create micro-climates within the workplace more easily, since the equipment is distributed throughout the space. Much of the research on thermal comfort indicates that air delivery from the floor in lieu of overhead can positively impact comfort. You remember from physics class that heat rises, and if we deliver warm air from an overhead position, we are trying to force the air against its natural flow. Additionally, overhead air distribution can create a drafty atmosphere. Underfloor systems deliver warm air directly at the level of occupants, so they often feel warmer even if the space has a lower ambient temperature.

As we consider the twenty-first century office environment, we are finding a consistent thread that leads to its effectiveness. Personal comfort, happiness, and workplace efficacy can only be addressed if we allow for personal choice. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to design. These historic, monolithic designs provide thermal comfort to a limited number of occupants and may have contributed to a disillusioned workforce. Let’s work to drive personal choice. It is well worth the investment.

Ingredient 4: Market Premium

November 25, 2019 • admin

Designers balance the goals and desires of clients against costs, schedules, and logistical challenges.

Leading organizations in their process of change is really about helping them align their expectations. Innovations centers are a large capital investment and market premium expectations to support their vision must be addressed early in the planning process. The old saying “You get what you pay for” stands true when it comes to shifting from a standard open office environment to one that supports innovation.

Let’s start with a standard office space. Most facility managers, commercial real estate brokers, or commercial contractors can spit out costing information for the build-out of a commercial office space. Many use their own experiences and history. Others utilize industry benchmark standards such as BOMA. While these resources work very well for organizations to judge costs, they really don’t know what they are getting for these benchmark numbers. What about the return on their investment? What are they getting for their money? Remember: you get what you pay for.

If increased innovation, attracting talent, and increasing speed to market is the desired return, then the standard formula for costing is of no use. There is a market premium that comes with such innovative spaces.

But why does it cost more? The short answer is that innovation centers invest greatly in their furniture and technology (FFE items). The expenses can be almost twice than that of a standard open office space. The reason for the investment is that furniture systems, access to technology, and a flexible systems infrastructure are crucial to the success of an innovation center.

BOMA costing standards state that for a class A office environment, the cost of $50.00 per square foot should be expected. This includes hard costs only (construction of walls, flooring, lighting, etc.). If FFE items (furniture, technology, etc.) are added, pricing expectations rise to $80.00 per square foot. These costs assume a standard result: acoustical ceiling systems, consistent lighting, limited HVAC control, and standard furniture system for all employees. I could go on, but you get the picture: a pretty standard office space, not one of innovation.

Our experience in creating innovation centers shows an average construction cost range of $85 – $120 per square foot. If FFE (furniture and technology) is included, the costs rise to $110 – $160 per square foot.

As mentioned previously, many of the increases in construction cost are infrastructure to support flexibility of the environment and the employees’ work process. Remember, another ingredient to crafting an innovation center is flexibility and enabling employees to report to any space to support their task, personality, and/or collaboration needs. A standard office environment is unable to address those challenges. A standard office operates under a one size fits all mentality.

Understanding the market premium that innovation centers require enables organizations to better align their expectations. Those who are truly focused on utilizing design for change, understand the investment is worth every penny and will transform their organization to better align their business for success.

The Forge Brings Tech Jobs to Rural Iowa

November 25, 2019 • admin

The new Forge location has officially opened in Jefferson, Iowa. This technology incubation center by Pillar Technology/Accenture is part of a greater movement that is connecting talented employees with innovative jobs right here in the Midwest. It will also provide internships and professional development opportunities for local students and host tech-based competitions. The opening celebration attracted industry leaders and Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, to promote the venture.

Read the article from the Des Moines Register.

Ingredient 3: Aligning Partners for Scale

November 24, 2019 • admin

A cohesive space is created through full team collaboration. By partnering with industry specialists, we ensure a high quality project.

What is a partner? The textbook definition of a partner is “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks.” Shared risks: this is the key. A partner on an architectural project has some skin in the game, and is invested in the venture with the architect. Both entities share in the success, assume the risk, and care. So, partners are important and serve the function to help scale the effectiveness of design. Without partners, architects and designers often work in isolation are not able to drive innovation beyond their individual reach. Partnerships take the project from the focused and simple towards a more impactful space which can drive innovation.

At WSA Studio, the design staff seeks partnerships to design affordable, custom solutions. These projects create unique places aligned with organizational values. Partners augment the creative response and elevate the design. Often, the partners represent manufacturers of systems that are incorporated into the project. Pre-manufactured building products like modular wall systems serve as a fundamental example. DIRTT, a partner of WSA Studio’s on many projects, leads research and product development to manufacture walls which bring high quality standards and consistency to the manufacturing of their products. Our projects benefit from the sustainable manufacturing methods which DIRTT harnesses and the consistent quality of their products. The construction result is more predictable. Components arrive in the field true to dimension and fabrication is simple for the installation team. This adds to the speed of erection and easy integration of electrical and technology infrastructure. Additionally, when the owner wishes to reconfigure the space in the future, they can reuse the components to support new layouts. This partnership with DIRTT expands the flexibility of the spaces which increases collaboration and fuels client innovation.

The design of specialty lighting can add dimension to the project as well. Innovation centers demand a variety of settings for workplace choice and walls provide boundaries which limit collaboration. If walls are less than preferred, the designer needs to work to define spaces in other ways. Differences in light levels, featured light fixtures, and accent lighting can make a dramatic impact on the definition of space, and often becomes a leading tool used to elevate the design results for innovation centers. At WSA Studio, designers partner with local lighting specialists and manufacturer’s representatives to stay abreast of the latest developments in lighting design. Often, these representatives are integrated into the design process early, and help to bring definition to the direction of lighting. Lighting can also be used to compliment the integration of audio/visual components. Great lighting design really makes a difference in the design of an innovation center. Partnerships with specialists drives quality design, and can often provide a spark to improve innovative results.

These partnerships allow a small, boutique firm like WSA Studio to take on more design responsibility. Partnerships extend the expertise of our staff, and provide clients with a designed environment that often exceeds their expectations.

Balancing Workplace Hierarchy

November 24, 2019 • admin

Say goodbye to the corner office, and hello to your team mates. Workplace design can combat rigid internal hierarchy and encourage collaboration.

Hierarchy has become a dirty word. As the baby boomers whisk themselves away to retirement, the concept of necessary hierarchy, or the idea to aspire to climb the corporate ladder, seems to be fading with their generation. For years, American workers recognized the importance of hierarchy in their workplace and looked to sharpen their game to be noticed, gain access to promotions, and step into a role of supervision or management.

Randolf Saint-Leger stated in BizFluent magazine that “a company’s hierarchy allows employees on different levels to identify the chain of command and serves as a reference point for decision making. A company without a hierarchy cannot effectively hold its executives, managers and employees accountable.”

Hierarchy may indeed help to hold executives, manager, and employees accountable, but the desire for accountability does not need to manifest itself in the physical environment as it has over the years. There is no definitive need to supply a manager with a private office, and the work of a supervisor does not demand a larger workstation. How has our society gravitated to the tradition of awarding larger footprints to management? Well, the proverbial corner office may have sprung from the tradition of awarding progress. As an employee showed success, the corner office was a way to reward and provide a visible sign to recognize their expanded role. The corner office has always symbolized accomplishment in 20th century popular culture. I recall the last scene in the eighties popular film “Working Girl” when the character portrayed by Melanie Griffin is recognized for her ingenuity with a private office of her own. Interestingly though, the cinematographers even revealed the irony as the camera pans further and further out to allow viewers to recognize that she was still just one of many, even with her success. After all, the concept of getting ahead is all relative and success demands more and more reward.

Regardless of the motive, we are all very familiar with the symbolic importance of a private office. As designers began to evaluate the need for private offices in the 90’s, it became clear that the job duties of a manager, supervisor, director, or any senior leader has seldom demanded a private enclave for most of their work. There are certainly some tasks performed by these folks which demand privacy, like personnel reviews and financial review. But research reveals that most private offices sit unoccupied a large majority of the time, while occupants of the adjacent open office environments often work under duress in a noisy, congested environment. And ironically, many of these entry level data-entry job duties are best performed when the occupant is isolated and can focus. So how do we correct this upside down paradigm? How does society reward success and how do we offer environments which address the demands of individual job functions?

At WSA, our teams have shifted our energy to focus on needs assessment for our clients. We know that a higher level of observation, inquiry, and engagement with users results in richer data output which can inform programmatic recommendations on projects.

Recently, our team worked with Ohio Mutual Insurance Group (OMIG) to improve the effectiveness of their teams. A third-party observation team occupied their space for a week and documented workstation, private office, and conference room use. The results were revealing. A large majority of the building’s occupants use their workstation less than 50% of the time, and private offices were seldom occupied. Focus groups and surveys revealed that users desired more space for collaboration and the ability to interface with off-site partners through audio/visual tools. Faced with the reality of a potential multi-million dollar building expansion to accommodate the existing and expanding team, OMIG senior leadership decided to take the design team’s advice and implement a new office standards program. WSA developed a collection of working scenarios that ranged from shared, private enclaves to team tables (8 unique scenarios were outlined), and then our representatives worked with each department to custom design a work environment that was unique to each team. The rigorous process allowed the existing facility to absorb nearly 45 additional staffers without an addition. The process also sparked internal review of standard protocols. Many of the teams took advantage of this opportunity to advance their mission and shift energy towards the enterprise’s newly minted mission statement. The final design includes private offices for some and dedicated heads-down workstations in the traditional sense for others, but most associates have migrated to a mobile work situation where they report to the campus and not a dedicated, individual workstation.

The results are remarkable. Senior leaders indicate that the efficiency of the organization has increased and job satisfaction is on the rise. We know that people work best when they can help shape their environment and Ohio Mutual is well on its way to a culture where emerging leaders break through encumbrances to success, which will lead to innovation and reward. In this new model, leaders work their way “out” of a dedicated office as their success is recognized. Under the new paradigm, individual leadership demands a higher level of engagement with reporting staff and the resulting culture of mentorship, collaboration, and innovative problem-solving becomes the reward.

The future may demand hierarchy to hold organizations accountable, but the OMIG example demonstrates how this hierarchy does not need to drive the design of the physical environment. The successful work environment is shaped by the demands of work process.

Priority Designs Helps Revitalize Whitehall

November 24, 2019 • admin

WSA worked with Priority Designs to transform an abandoned car dealership in Whitehall into a new office space, design studio, conference center, and fabrication studio. In 2013, owners Paul and Lois Kolada recognized the need for more space as their business continued to grow. The pair were excited by the opportunity to undergo a visionary renovation and invest in an upcoming neighborhood. The City of Whitehall has cited the renovation as a model for community improvement and the value of public/private partnerships.

“We couldn’t afford something this big or this spacious if it wasn’t in this area,” Paul said.

Since construction of this project, the City of Whitehall has secured 50 million dollars of proposed redevelopment. These plans mostly feature the revitalization of existing buildings rather than new construction. By embracing the architecture and context of the neighborhood, Whitehall is reclaiming the future of their city on their terms.

Read the article in the Columbus Dispatch.

The Power of Natural Light

November 23, 2019 • admin

How often do you see views of the outdoors at your job? Natural light can improve sleep and mood, and is an important design element of a healthy workplace.

If you had to guess, what do you believe would be the most important amenity for today’s worker? A well-stocked kitchenette or an area for fitness? How about access to a wellness facility or an on-site day care. Well, I googled this question and found that the highest priority for any employer in today’s market is lease flexibility. Companies want flexibility and do not want to be tied into a long-term lease agreement. However, I don’t really consider leasing agreements to be amenities as much as a state of mind. People just don’t want to make long term commitments and they desire this freedom as a high priority. So, beyond freedom and flexibility, what amenities do workers really seek?

The Need for Outdoor Views

If we dive into the research on this topic, we find that more North American employees rank natural light as their most important element. A September, 2018 article by Jeanne Meister in Harvest Business Review references a survey by Future Workplace called “The Employee Experience” which found that among 1,614 North American employees, access to natural light and views of the outdoors is the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking cafeterias, fitness centers, and other premium perks. The study goes on to cite how the lack of light and outdoor views hurts the employee experience and contributes to associates feeling gloomy or tired. Obviously, this study indicates that natural light is important to the overall well being of employees.

At WSA Studio, we recognize the importance of natural light when we design and take extraordinary measures to distribute natural light in the facilities that we design. Since we model our projects using Building Information Modeling tools, we can overlay these digital models with software which determines the natural light levels through spaces at various times of the day. This kind of smart data drives design recommendations and can impact the size of exterior glazing. On a recent primary and secondary school we designed, we were able to use this information to modulate the ceiling treatment which increased the reflectivity of the exterior light on surfaces and elevate light levels deeper in the space. Note that this did not cost the client any additional money. The data simply provided the information necessary to inform the design of the classroom space.

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On the same project, we were able to work with our engineering consultants to connect each light to a control system which dims or brightens interior lights to accommodate for the lack of natural light on an overcast day. This helps to address lighting needs and significantly drives energy savings. So, attention to detail regarding natural light can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of space. Since this project has been occupied, district leaders have indicated that the classroom spaces are effective and that student engagement has increased when compared to their previous location. We cannot attribute all this improvement to natural light, since many other factors are different as well, but we know that lighting and access to views is a strong contributor.

Bringing Light into Schools

On a more recent educational project, we adapted an existing warehouse to accommodate an innovative learning environment. The existing space had been used as a warehouse to store light fixtures and equipment and was very dark. The proportion of the space was somewhat deep, which typically precludes access to natural light. This is a very typical challenge in “big box” buildings that were designed and constructed for storage or retail needs. But the Ohio landscape is littered with many of these abandoned buildings and we believe that there is a lot of potential to inexpensively adapt these relics and put them to good use.

The PAST Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to advancing educational outcomes for children, had acquired an existing deep building and located their administrative offices in a portion originally intended to accommodate office workers. So, this area naturally had light and access to view. But, when faced with the challenge to design and construct an educational laboratory, they turned to our team to lead them through this challenge. Our design team was determined to prioritize access to natural light for the students and worked diligently to communicate the value attributed to the distribution of natural light throughout the educational laboratory.

The design positions active educational laboratories adjacent to a centralized “agora” which features three large, overhead lanterns. These skylights bathe the space in natural light and draw students into a shared collaborative space which changes character throughout the day and from season to season. Ironically, when the project was in its development phase, these skylights sat on the chopping block. Their cost was under consideration as the team struggled to meet the limited budget for this not-for-profit organization. But, after much consideration, the team collectively agreed to prioritize the introduction of natural light into the space, and end results benefits considerably. I have never been to the space when I have not seen students using this space, and I cannot imagine the impact that the lack of natural light would have on the efficacy of the project to meet the educational mission of the PAST Foundation.

Access to natural light in our buildings is that important. It can impact the effectiveness of a facility, can increase one’s sense of security, stabilize our well-being, and improve our mood.

Ingredient 2: Cultural Identity

November 23, 2019 • admin

Cultural identity is the most important remembrance factor of something, someone, or somewhere. It’s one’s ability of self-conception and self-perception toward distinct culture. This is built through various avenues of a “brand.” Brands are everywhere and continue to be instinctively recognizable to the human mind. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and media types, and create an eternal awareness of its origins. It’s a product (physical/virtual) manufactured by a group with direct intentions to relay a specific message to others. Architecturally, space making, circulation, spatial experience, and branding are the key factors in making a space and organization’s cultural identity accessible to its employees, customers, executives, and most importantly, the targeted public.

Design is a comprehensive process of understanding a client’s brand, culture, and goals. Once we understand the program and culture, we design to not only meet but exceed expectations of the brand. It’s our responsibility as the architect to propose the brand in “built form” in ways that challenge the preconceived idea of the space and how it can assist in encouraging a brand’s growth and the various ways in which employees tell the story. An organization’s brand is as strong as the employees who activate it, so matching the design to the mission is vital to the narrative.

In conveying the narrative of The Forge by Pillar, it was important to note that the brand is both mental and physical. The brand standards are universal on a macro level including all major space components essential to spur innovation. The idea is that the space has no constraints and, subsequently, neither do their ideas. The physical space includes elements to support that: the color code supports functionality as well as the brand’s vibrancy, a sign that says “Experience” to represent new ideas, and an overall industrial tone. Although there are multiple physical spaces throughout the Midwest, the brand elements set forth in Columbus have transcended to each location.

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Conversely, Wendy’s 90 Degree Lab is a space that allows its users to disconnect from the well-known, universal Wendy’s brand and introduce a freshness. When entering the space, there are elements that mimic a typical Wendy’s restaurant, but it is infused with technology and has an openness and freedom that isn’t found in the space a burger can be ordered. The colors and the signage are universal; the 90 Degree Lab is a brand on its own merit known for its technology applications.

A cultural identity assists in defining the values of the organization. Not only is a brand recognizable from an outside perspective, a strong brand connects it employees with a “We’re in this together” type of attitude. When people feel connected to a brand and a culture, people will stick around. Why is this important in the success of an innovation center? New ideas stem from people. When people inside the spaces feel connected and confident and part of a team, they want to offer their best. A cultural identity connects space to the people and that spurs innovation.

Verizon Grant Supports PAST Foundation

November 22, 2019 • admin

The PAST Foundation provides STEM education opportunities for K-12 students in Central Ohio. Their mission, “Link learning and life,” is carried out through hands-on extracurricular programs like coding bootcamps and competetive robotics teams. In 2018, PAST received a grant from the Verizon Foundation to contribute to STEM education in Columbus. These programs help students develop technical knowledge and critical thinking skills that prepare them for careers.

Read the article from the PAST Foundation.

Ingredient 1: A Flexible Approach

November 22, 2019 • admin

The way people work and learn is constantly changing. Innovative architecture should be flexible enough to make room for change.

Flexibility: It’s a buzz word and a key ingredient in a successful innovation center. The shifts at a workplace require a design to be open enough that the user group can report anywhere, whether it be a personal desk or a bean bag chair by a window. Everyone wants their space to be flexible. We hear it from our clients on almost all projects and we evaluate the merits of design response through that lens. But, honestly, what is it? What makes a space flexible and why do we need flexibility? Can things become too flexible? Does each and every space need to support flexibility? What happens if our design is not flexible?

flex-i-bil-i-ty noun

1.     The quality of bending easily without breaking.
2.     The ability to be easily modified.
3.     Willingness to change or compromise.

Architecture is an art that takes years to unfold. Consider even a small project. The timeline will take months. Major projects may take two or three years to design and two or three years to build, making it a six-year commitment to which clients commit a significant amount of capital. Given the significant investment of time, energy, and capital, doesn’t it make sense that each project should be able to absorb change and adapt to shifting functional demands over time? Sure it does. In fact, flexibility is imperative.

A flexible approach is rooted in resilience. Buildings should support shifting demands while maintaining their relevancy and supplying its user group with wiggle room in their operational processes. Designing with flexibility in mind helps achieve these goals. Designing for flexibility lets users determine how they work best. That’s the point. At PAST Innovation Lab, the design is transparent and promotes the idea that each working style has a place. A small group can sit in comfortable chairs outside a learning lab and work together. A person can sit at a table under the skylight and work alone. The space was designed for that, for flexibility in operations.

At Motorists Insurance, flexibility with privacy and sound control were thought of in depth. Prefabricated, modular interior construction can promote easy, future reconfiguration of walls and partitions. The walls should move. The conferencing in The Intersection changes based on what is asked of the space. Varying size options are offered in regard to group dynamic. The rooms are adjacent to one another with the option to open the sliding doors to combine into one or close them and partition separately. It’s a multi-functional work space that support user freedom.

Of course, functional demands will require fixed specificity for spaces supporting skilled processes, and every innovation center will include a few, but, ultimately, a successful innovation center supports flexibility. It supports the notion that an idea can and should happen anywhere inside the space, whether it be on the go or while sitting in a conference room. Without enabling flexibility, a design becomes obsolete. Only one thing is guaranteed: the things we hold dear today will change, and we certainly don’t want our architecture to become a relic of the past.

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The Point at Otterbein University is an innovation center geared towards higher education. The space, by nature, has a slightly different purpose, but the outcome is still the same: it’s driven by innovation. All of the ingredients, including this flexible approach, are transferable to innovation centers in the higher education realm.

Moving at Work

November 18, 2019 • admin

How many hours per day do you sit at work? Many Americans could benefit from a more dynamic workplace that lets you move more and sit less.

For the past few days, I was in Washington DC for a meeting with architecture students, and we walked. We walked a lot. We would walk to our meetings, walk to a lunch or dinner destination, and walk to run errands or meet up with one another in our down time.  Of course, I have my phone with me wherever I go, and the phone has an app which tracks my steps. Over these three days, I walked 13.5 miles, which is an average of 4.5 miles per day. For those of you who measure your days in steps, that is an average of 9,500 steps, which is pretty good. And, I was able to perform all of this exercise even though I was attending sedentary day-long meetings. Based upon my size and age, this means that I was generally burning an additional 657 calories each day. I loved it. I felt more alive when I arrived at meetings and this exercise helped me focus during important moments.

As I was returning to Columbus, I began to muse about the differences among cities like DC, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco where residents can often live, work, and recreate without the use of a car, and the typical car-centric city. Columbus is challenging, if not impossible, to navigate without a car. And, we get lazy and typically choose to drive. So, it is even more important for designers to encourage the occupants of buildings in Columbus and cities like ours to move. Since many of our residents are walking out of their kitchen, stepping directly into a car which transports them to their workplace with little opportunity to include exercise as part of the day, we must consider this sedentary lifestyle when we design the places where people learn or work.

The Importance of Moving at Work

Studies show that sedentary time in adults can drive up the incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even death. In a 2012 research program, eighteen individual studies of nearly 800,000 participants indicated an increase in diabetes by 112% in the most sedentary subjects. The research also indicated a 147% increase in cardiovascular events and a 90% increase in the risk of cardiovascular mortality. These numbers are astonishing. It proves what we have sensed for some time. The desk job is killing us, literally.

Given this enlightening data, we at WSA Studio understand that we just can’t keep contributing to the demise of our health through replicating the designs of the past. We are charting a course of discovery and research to find design concepts which drive healthy outcomes for those who occupy the spaces we design.

How Workplace Design Encourages Movement

So, what is it that we should do through our designs that will improve the health of the occupants? The United States Department of Health and Human Services has issued a report which indicates that adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Many of our workplace designs have focused on accommodating a stationary posture for workers. Designers have focused on the individual workstation or individual office, and through our many designs, we strive to improve ergonomics, accessibility, privacy, technological access, and comfort. Additionally, employers have focused on the productivity of individual employees, so the combination of employer expectation combined with the design emphasis has driven a complacent environment, where one’s success has been evaluated based upon their ability to sit and do the work that was required.

Over the past five to ten years, as we have designed spaces to ignite innovation, WSA Studio has found that success is often determined through how we come together collectively. The design of workplace environments has shifted towards this emphasis on the collective. Collaborative environments which support shared experience among employees drive the need for quick response and agile workplace environments, and these shared spaces are an alternative destination within the workplace. Often, these designs include standing height tables for active meetings, adjustable monitors, white boards for presentation, mobile technology carts, and lounge furniture. This equipment provides a great break from the typical heads-down posture of the individual office and encourage movement and can even improve productivity according to a major study of workers in the United Kingdom.

As employees move between spaces, we have infused designs with communicating stairs which encourage their use over elevators and can even serve as the destination for collaborative meetings.

How WSA Studio Incorporates Movement in Design

The successful workplace needs to attract emerging professionals, and this generation of workers is not satisfied with individual or collective performance spaces only. Millennials demand “third space” amenities, those spaces where we participate in non-work-related activities. Beginning twenty five years ago, WSA Studio began to program and design fitness spaces, including yoga rooms, aerobic exercise space, and resistance-based exercise machines. For one client, we even included a sprung wood dance floor with ballet bars and mirrored wall surfaces. However, not every client can afford a dedicated gym. So, recently we began to imagine how the design of shared collaborative space could double as a fitness setting.

We design dedicated conference space as convertible to low-impact aerobics space or meditation settings, and now that large group gathering areas may need to support athletic activities. Ceiling heights, air flow, and specialized lighting controls need to consider this use. To increase the culture of movement throughout the greater campus, many of our designs incorporate storage space for bicycle commuters, walking and jogging paths, and even calisthenic stations.

As we continue to advance workplace and academic design, the WSA Studio design team will explore additional opportunities for occupants to move, and we know that often the best solutions are linked to blending individual space with the collective. We encourage employers to invest in the potential to increase productivity and improve job satisfaction and the overall health of employees through design. We design environments that work.

Crafting Innovation

November 18, 2019 • admin

Innovation centers are increasingly popular in corporate and academic settings. But what does it really take to design for innovation?

INNOVATION: The act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.

“Innovation” is a broad term. Because of this, every organization defines it in their own unique way. Uncovering how an organization innovates is the real trick. Understanding how an organization innovates will enable relevancy in today’s ever-changing market place. With competition everywhere (both internally and externally), organizations and institutions are reinventing themselves to meet the demands of growing customer expectations, an increased speed to market, and the difficulty of attracting and retaining top talent. As a result, organizations are seeking to transform their culture to one that fosters innovative thinking. Innovation centers have become popular among corporations, universities, and municipalities largely out of the demand for the aptitude the space provides. These centers provide a lens for organizations to examine and explore new creative ideas. With that shift in attitude, we must explicitly question assumptions about how we create spaces for this new way of working.

The best way to understand these innovations centers is to realize they are all based on one of three core models:


  • Unique spaces for a specific user.
  • Inspired by the startup culture.
  • Open to changing existing culture to give people innovative freedom.
  • A show-off space.

Most popular of the innovation center models. Two distinct varieties within this model:

  • The Co-working labs such as Chicago’s 1871 is a popular example with small businesses and entrepreneurs looking for peer networking and resources.
  • Universities and municipalities are utilizing the public/private partnership model to advance opportunities for students and local business.

Today’s version the shop class.

  • Makerspaces are utilizing new manufacturing technologies and bringing an entirely new set of skills into the workplace. It is no longer about how to build a better crafted birdhouse; these spaces are solving new challenges with the aptitude for evolving technologies.
  • More and more we are finding hybrid environments combining these traditional models best supports innovation throughout all markets.

With all that said, our research and expertise tells us it takes a unique set of ingredients to craft innovation.

The long-held belief is that if one were to mix the characteristics of a traditional office/academic space, highly caffeinated Millennials, a gaming center, and bean bags, innovative results would follow. Unfortunately, this is just not that case. Typical office space contains a list of ingredients that make it successful, but to transform a typical environment into one that supports innovation, we have established some not-so-cut and dry ingredients.


A standard approach – There isn’t anything unique about your day to day experience.

Applied branding – It is about taste and being told what you are to care about.

Scale – The one-size-fits-all mentality. Design is based on hierarchy and accommodation.

Market expectations – Spaces become commodities. It’s all about efficiency and limited options.

A cut and dry office experience is not difficult to provide, but a space that fosters innovation must be strategically crafted. There must be a layer of insight that goes beyond the newest and latest tools and trends. There are seven proven ingredients that transform a space and its occupants from that cut and dry space and culture to one that takes an organization beyond relevancy and into innovation.

Stay tuned through the next couple of weeks as we explore each ingredient in depth in the process of crafting innovation.

Blue Label Digital Printing Expands

November 15, 2019 • admin

As part of the long-term master plan for Blue Label Digital Printing, they have added 20,000 square feet of production space to their existing warehouse and offices. Blue Label has seen steady growth since 2015, and needs more room to accommodate their advanced digital printing technology. This project is one in a series of renovations that WSA has designed at the facility, with others including the administrative offices and amenity spaces, and the production warehouse.

Read the article from AreaDevelopment.

Introduction to Workplace Wellness

November 13, 2019 • admin

Workplace wellness encompasses a variety of facets at your job. Architecture and design can support a healthy place where employees feel welcome and comfortable.

Is it just me, or are things spinning faster and faster and we all seem to run from thing to thing without any respite? I am old enough to remember a slower time when we prepared drawings by hand and talked to one another in person or on the telephone to do our business as architects. It seemed as if we had more time to do our work. Projects took months and months to complete, and we finished projects at a high level of quality. Certainly our work was more linear, with fewer iterations expected and we had time to review drawings, coordinate the work of our consultants fully, and do our best to integrate and anticipate construction challenges.

In today’s fast-paced environment, technological connectivity drives speed and heightens expectations. Smartphones make our work 24/7 and we stay on and connected throughout the weekends. Clients seem to expect a collaborative process with “real-time” virtual reality modeling and detailed renderings. The construction of our projects is delivered by construction managers who often impose a fast-track construction delivery model with multiple bid packages. I can guarantee that the design process is much more complex in our current environment. Additionally, I can also attest that the level and quality of design that we all desire and deliver is much higher. Our landscape environments are richer, interior environments more thoroughly detailed and coordinated, and our teams work to integrate every technological detail.

No wonder we all feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and frazzled! And, we know that what I have described is not unique to the architecture and design industry. All of us are facing these demands. Educators have a higher bar to meet with a spotlight on the results. If a CEO does not meet the Board’s goals, they are quickly ousted. Ad agencies have to quickly turn opinions in a campaign and retailers are working quicker and longer to make up for lost margins from competition.

So, what can we do to help our society deal with these changing and challenging demands as we step into the future? At WSA Studio, we believe that good design can offer tools to building users which will help reduce stress and improve our health. Over the next few months, we will explore how design can impact our health, improve worker productivity and student performance, and advance our society towards a more balanced existence.

AIA Columbus Awards 2019

November 7, 2019 • admin

The Point at Otterbein University was awarded a 2019 AIA Columbus Design Merit Award.

Awards season: 3 for 3. We are honored to receive an AIA Columbus Merit Award for our design of The Point at Otterbein University. We also celebrated the achievements in architectural design around our city with our industry peers. Let’s just say that this awards ceremony made us proud to be part of Columbus’s ongoing transformation.

Thank you to this industry, our peers, and the jurors, including lead juror Anne Chen, AIA. And special thanks to our partners who helped realize this project: KLH Engineers, Jezerinac Geers & Associates, White Design Studio, and Ruscilli Construction.

Fast 50 Honoree

October 22, 2019 • admin

If you've come into the studio lately, you probably noticed lots of new faces. We've been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in Central Ohio.

In the last two weeks, we’ve received two awards. This one is for being one of the fastest growing companies in Central Ohio. There’s something to be said for putting good people in the position to nail it, and as humbled as we are to receive this Fast 50 Award, we know it’s because we’ve nailed it in choosing the very best people.

So, thank you to Columbus Business First for this program and a special thanks to the weird, quirky, and smart humans who come into 982 S. Front Street every day and work it out.

Check out the final rankings here.

IIDA Columbus Awards 2019

October 17, 2019 • admin

The Point at Otterbein University wins a 2019 IIDA Columbus Design Merit Award in Education.

If you were at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) awards, you probably saw the WSA crew engaged in what looked like a choreographed line dance.

It’s about balance. You know? We were celebrating because we received an honor award for The Point at Otterbein University and it feels really cool to be recognized within our industry for the projects we dive into and stress over. This award is just a reminder that it all matters. Thank you to the jury and to our partners and peers who always support us. We’re really grateful today.

And, contrary to popular belief, we did not practice the line dance before the event.

Check out footage from the awards ceremony here!

The Value of Acoustics

October 3, 2019 • admin

The constant din of a loud workplace can be mentally exhausting, increase errors, and impact overall effectiveness. In a noisy world, it’s easy to overlook the power of quiet.

Last night my wife and I watched one of those medical television programs. (It doesn’t matter which one, they’re all the same). The main story featured a deaf patient who had undergone a procedure to receive cochlear implants after a lifetime of silence. In the end, the character had these implants removed since she didn’t like the person that she had become. With access to sound, the character felt that she was less sensitive, impatient, and had grown into a person she disliked.

I found this so interesting and began to wonder how my extroverted personality might be different without the constant buzz of life around me. As we rush from meetings to events, the sound never goes away. This may be why most people find the sound of the ocean waves crashing to shore soothing. Or why many prefer the calm brought on by the wind rustling through the trees during a brisk Autumn hike in Ohio. Nature sounds good. It is peaceful and is good for the soul.

Why is Acoustics Important in the Workplace?

Listen. What is that sound? If you’re reading this in a typical office environment, you may just not be able to hear a thing except for the constant din of distracting conversation. With the growing prevalence of open office plans, there is more background chatter, an increase in the distraction from proximate group meetings, and that one person who always talks too loudly on a cell phone. You know who I mean. This can reduce the ability for employees to be productive. Privacy is impacted, and these environments can even cause listening fatigue. Hearing many noise sources at once for an extended period can be mentally exhausting and the incidence of worker error can increase, and our overall effectiveness can be jeopardized.

Design Solutions

Small, private enclaves, such as these in our work for The Forge, can provide privacy when needed and reduce the echo in a large environment.

The designers at WSA Studio have adopted several strategies to mitigate the impact of noise in today’s open office and academic environments. These strategies have been monitored to measure their efficacy and we have found that many of the most effective solutions are not always immediately apparent.

The most effective methodology is to support mobility among employees. Our designers have worked hard to eliminate our client’s reliance on technology tools which tether them to a static workstation. Many projects benefit from a variety of rooms where associates can retreat for private conversations or media interaction in privacy.

It is very difficult to hold a Skype or FaceTime meeting in an open office environment on a private computer. These static experiences are distracting to those seated within close range and place pressure on participants and their colleagues.

In many of our recent projects, we have designed clusters of small, private enclaves as a destination for associates. These spaces can support small meetings, casual video conferencing, private phone calls, and one-on-one conversations. They establish a consolidated quiet zone and serve as a memorable destination to seek respite.

In larger, open office environments, we often specify products which help to reduce or mitigate noise levels. Even something as simple as the proper acoustical ceiling tile specification can make a huge difference. Did you realize that there are two basic types of ceiling tile material? Mineral fiber is absorptive since it is dense and bounces sound and collects the sound somewhat in the process. We typically specify mineral fiber in private office areas. Fiberglass allows sound to transfer through it where it may dissipate in a plenum, and we prefer this specification for large open areas.

Of course, there are troubling complications with each type and many additional considerations need to be factored with each project. In addition to ceiling systems, our team may suspend sound panels or apply them to vertical services, lighting products which help with sound absorption may be selected, and even the textiles which are used on furniture may be considered. Sometimes, we design spaces to encourage active learning or create an energized atmosphere. In these spaces, the design team may select crisp finishes and rely upon sound amplification to augment public address systems. The various design solutions to address acoustics are very complex, and the need for specialized acoustical consultation increases incrementally with the importance of sound intelligence in the space.

Results for People

With this all said, our collective goal is to reduce occupant stress in the spaces we design. We know that matching the proper acoustical properties to each space can lead to improved mood and overall health and may even increase productivity. So, the next time you are trying to get your team to concentrate or energize your peers, make sure that you select the type of space to fit these activities with care.

6th Annual Cornhole Tournament

September 12, 2019 • admin

The best party this side of Front Street (for a good cause, too)!

The 6th Annual Cornhole Tournament fundraiser was a success! Together we raised over $4,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. Thank you to our event sponsors for making it happen, and thank you to all of our guests for playing in the tournament, hanging out with us, and supporting a great cause.

32 fierce teams competed for first place, but only one team walked away with the ducks — the WSA Duck trophies, that is. Eric and Drew of Patterson Pope threw their hearts out and crushed it on the cornhole courts, winning it all. Meanwhile, the silent auction stirred up even more competition as we placed bids on our favorite items, like RayBan sunglasses (donated by Northwest Eye Surgeons) and some original artwork by Tim Hawk.

This year the event featured live jams from George Barrie Band, buckets of Platform beer and White Claw, and delicious food from the Seven Little Sliders food truck. What more could you need?

Event Sponsors

Columbus Zoo Visits the Studio

August 16, 2019 • admin

It's a real zoo in here.

We are passionate about our culture and spending quality time with our people. Today that means we brought our families together in the studio to visit with animals from the Columbus Zoo!

As part of their community outreach effort, the Zoo handlers brought in several animals, including Anchovy the penguin, a clouded leopard cub, a baby kangaroo, a sloth, and an armadillo. We learned about topics like habitats, animal behavior, and conservation while watching Anchovy waddle happily along. But we can all agree that the best part was getting to hold and pet these amazing creatures. How many people can say that they have held a baby kangaroo in their arms like a toddler? The answer is probably something like, “not that many.” We’re super grateful for that experience.

AIA Florida Convention

July 28, 2019 • admin

Sharing Our Culture as keynote speakers at the AIA Florida Convention.

Todd Boyer, AIA, Vice President of WSA Studio, and his wife Sara Boyer, AIA, Associate President of Moody Nolan, presented as keynote speakers for the 2019 AIA Florida Convention in Orlando. This year’s theme was called “Pursue Your Passion,” so Todd and Sara discussed a topic that they are both extremely passionate about: workplace culture.

Coming from the Midwest region, they brought a fresh perspective to AIA Florida members, relating their own experiences in a new context. The pair told their real stories of building a culture at both a small firm and a large firm, and how they have successfully engaged employees and created a workplace culture to be proud of.

Todd and Sara recommended practical strategies that they have used to develop and implement the values of their organization. Tips included finding support from local AIA chapters to access professional development resources, such as the AIA Columbus Archway Mentorship program that Todd participated in. He stressed the importance of mentoring young professionals in the workplace, and creating a culture that is actively engaged in learning, spending time in the community, and spending quality time together with colleagues. When employees feel supported by their organization, they are more likely to reach career goals and have an enduring tenure at their workplace.

WSA Studio is proud of the inclusive workplace culture that we work hard to maintain, and it was an honor to share our experiences with architects and designers around the country.

Lauren Miller, AIA: She’s Licensed!

June 3, 2019 • admin

Look out, world! Our very own Lauren Miller is officially a licensed Architect.

Not only is she one of the most fun people you’ll ever meet, Lauren also has a passion for innovative design that drives her work at WSA. Oh, and she passed all six Architectural Registration Exams in just six months. So, we held a celebration in the studio for Lauren’s accomplishment and the dynamic perspective she brings to the profession.

After completing her Master of Architecture at the Pratt Institute, Lauren worked as an architectural designer in New York City where she drafted shelter relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. In 2017, she returned home to Columbus to become a Design Specialist at WSA Studio.

Lauren’s design strength is complemented by her ability to form seemingly effortless relationships with clients. Her portfolio includes work with Pillar Technology, Encova Insurance, and Brick House Blue. From the beginning of each project, Lauren takes the time to understand the client’s needs, not only for spacial requirements, but also to spark business growth, user satisfaction, and overall client success.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

Kirsten Sheely: Our new Studio Leader

April 25, 2019 • admin

Celebrating Kirsten Sheely and her new role at WSA.

We are excited to announce a new addition to our leadership team: Kirsten Sheely, NCIDQ, has been promoted to Studio Leader. Kirsten previously served as a Design Manager focused on interiors. She has become a leader and a mentor with a strong design sense and responsiveness to organizational effectiveness. Her work includes the Motorists Business Innovation Center, The Point at Otterbein University, and the PAST Innovation Lab, which won the 2017 IIDA Merit Award in Education.

In her new role, Kirsten will push the boundaries of transformational academic and innovative spaces. Her extensive knowledge and experience in tandem with her team orientation has given her strong client relationships, making her invaluable to our team.

Check out the featured post in Columbus Business First.

6th Annual Chili Cook-Off

March 1, 2019 • admin

Nothing beats the mid-winter blues like winning First Place Chili.

The 2019 Chili Cook-Off brought in the highest number of contestants in WSA Studio history! With twelve delicious chilis to sample, the competition was fierce. Each round featured a unique flavor profile that was derived from the creative nature of our staff, including curry-spiced beef, umami mushrooms, cinnamon chipotle sauce, and, a fan favorite, craft beer-infused chili.

Our guest judges this year were Ben Biada of Catalyst Engineering and Kim Hart of Kimball. Their dedication to the craft and the thorough notes they took for each round proved to be insightful and entertaining. Kim is a notorious lover of all things spicy, but only half of the contenders met her standards for heat. Ben offered positive feedback for every chili… except for #7.

The most memorable moment of the afternoon was when Tim, our beloved President and the reigning 2018 Champion, handed the trophy over to Lauren.

A wise man once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” But, on this day, when we consumed mass amounts of exquisite chili with as much avocado topping as desired, we were all winners.

2019 Chili Cook-Off Champion: Lauren Miller

The Forge Short North Site Visit

January 10, 2019 • admin

Turning dreams into designs into buildings, and then walking through them. That's why we do what we do.

Lauren and Nate took us on a tour of the new Forge space in the Short North. Even though it’s still under construction, we could see the story unfold.

The Forge will occupy the top two floors (8th and 9th) of the building at 711 N. High Street. The 8th floor opens to the Innovation Pathway, a tech-heavy gathering jump space that runs through the center of the office. Right now, it’s a big empty space with plastic sheets as walls, but when the renovation is complete, the signature orange ceiling will create a striking entry. Surrounding the pathway will be several multi-purpose work stations and conference rooms with sleek glass partitions.

At the end of the corridor is a grand stair with bench seating that leads to the 9th floor. This floor will include a conference room and makerspace, but it will mainly serve as an event space. It will feature a full industrial kitchen and bar, lounge seating, and room for a live band and dance floor.

The building at 711 N. High offers a new approach to the Short North Arts District. Almost every floor will be mixed-use, with a combination of parking, offices, dining, and a fitness center. The glass and brick façade adds height and a modern touch to the historic area, while offering rare 360˚ views of the city.

We’re anticipating invites to future dance parties.

CBF Cool Offices: Encova Insurance

November 23, 2018 • admin

Encova innovation center sparks cultural transformation.

The innovation center located in the Encova Insurance headquarters has sparked a cultural change in the organization. After conducting staff interviews, WSA determined that the greatest challenge facing the business was attracting and retaining talented employees. In order to create a desirable culture for emerging professionals, the design team implemented a new office concept that features open work stations, private conferencing, and areas for collaborative brainstorming. The renovations also included amenity spaces such as a fitness center and kitchenette. WSA has since formed a strong partnership with Encova, and has continued to update spaces throughout the Columbus campus.

Read the article in Columbus Business First.

The Quinn Site Visit

October 26, 2018 • admin

Turning dreams into designs into buildings, and then walking through them. That's why we do what we do.

Years in the making, the whole studio had the opportunity to visit our nearly completed project, The Quinn. A residential community in the Grandview area, it is a destination spot in an up-and-coming part of town for young professionals. The Quinn creates a sense of community among its residents and brings more foot-traffic to the neighboring businesses.

The Quinn is already a popular spot due to its upscale amenities and multi-unit options, including micro-units, studio units, and one bedroom units. On our tour, we had the opportunity to see all the amenities in person: a private pool, outdoor grill stations, a clubhouse lounge, yoga studio, conference rooms, fitness centers, bike repair center, and indoor community spaces on each floor.

The pedestrian-oriented design is incorporated into the façade of the building and the community room. The public gathering spaces from the private pool to the clubhouse lounge creates a desire to meet neighbors and socialize in the area.

Grand Opening: The Point at Otterbein University

September 21, 2018 • admin

It's here! The Point at Otterbein University makes a significant impact on the academic and campus experience.

The Point at Otterbein University is officially complete. The opening was Friday, September 21 and the space looks great. You guys should all go check it out. You can get a membership to their makerspace for $75/month. Want to know about The Point? Here’s an excerpt from the website:

“Hands on learning combined with a suite of sophisticated tools, labs and special manufacturing and engineering equipment, The Point is a one stop shop for learning, creating, and building. Built for the larger common good in mind, The STEAM Innovation Center offers an opportunity for students and community alike.”

Learn more about our design of the Point and its effect on the Otterbein experience here.

5th Annual Cornhole Tournament

September 13, 2018 • admin

The best party this side of Front Street (for a good cause, too)!

Another successful year in the books. We can’t thank you enough for all of your support. Our sponsors, Premier Commercial Construction, King Business Interiors, Jezerinac Geers, Daltile, Mohawk, and Shaw, come through every year to help us throw this event and raise unabridged money for the iBELIEVE Foundation. Many of you donated to our silent auction and it was good stuff, man. Lauren Davis from Feinknopf donated her time to photograph the event and we’re so excited to share them with you. And to the rest of you, just buying a ticket, showing up, and tossing a few cornhole bags makes a huge difference in an Appalachian kid’s future. Thank you.

Because of you, we have donated $5,000 to iBELIEVE to support and sponsor Newcomerstown High School. Five children get to attend leadership camps, which means those kids get to network and develop skills that will encourage them to follow their dreams, as cheesy as it sounds.

Thank you again. I know I say this every year, but when people jump on board to support the things we care about, it’s overwhelming in such a good way. Gear up for next year, kids. We’re getting a dunk tank and you know Tim’s up first.

IIDA Product Runway 2018

May 24, 2018 • admin

This industry staple event lets designers get creative (and competitive) as they craft costumes out of architectural materials.

We love this event! It’s a night where music and fashion join the architecture & design industry, and it’s so much fun. Every firm teams up with a product vendor to create a runway ready outfit. This year, WSA teamed up with Burch Fabrics to create an objectively beautiful garment and our first-time model, Ashley, strutted down the catwalk bopping and swaying to Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).” The overall theme of the night was Express Your Wild Side, intending to produce animal-like costumes from various climates. We drew Desert Dwellers and a lot of inspiration came from dragonesque reptiles that dwell in… the desert.

WSA walked away with an award for the best poster to memorialize the night and, if there were an award for having the most fun, we would have gone home with that one too.

AIAS Midwest Quad Conference

April 8, 2018 • admin

WSA values our partnership with the AIAS to provide student mentorship and professional development opportunities.

Each year, AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) regional conferences take place annually in the spring in the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West Quads. These gatherings, known as Quad Conferences, are hosted by local chapters who have been selected to organize the event by their Quad. Themes vary based on the city, local culture, and architectural topic of choice. This year, the Midwest Quad was held in Columbus, Ohio.

The WSA team had the opportunity to host a session for the AIAS Midwest quad. Students from Chicago, Kentucky, and Ohio got to tour the office and learn how we craft innovation. It’s always valuable for students to get an inside look at how architects work in the professional realm. We held a design charrette focused on how to create an innovation center. Afterwards, everyone’s favorite part, there was a pizza party complete with Jeni’s ice cream (the WSA way).

5th Annual Chili Cook-Off

March 9, 2018 • admin

Nothing beats the mid-winter blues like winning First Place Chili.

You guys, we’ve been so busy. We’ve been the kind of busy that made people forget to make chili. Some of us highly dedicated individuals rallied, though, and we received eight chili-ish submissions. Some were a little curious. The head juror, Kelly Greene from DIRTT Environmental Solutions, said they “weren’t warned” about the chili being “untraditional.” It should be noted that, at this point, we have three vegetarians in the office and a few empathetic people who wanted to give those vegetarians more options to try. Of the eight chilis, five were meatless.

We give out two awards during this cookoff. One is the studio’s favorite and Scotty took this one home with hints of cinnamon. It was weird and tasty at the same time, so we all still have questions as to how it tasted so good. The second award is handed out by the judges. This year, we invited Kelly Greene from DIRTT (as mentioned), Jason Kingham from Motorists Insurance Group, and Bob Steele from Shaffer Construction. They decided, understandably, to go with the most traditional chili of the bunch: Tim Hawk, FAIA. Insert words of inspiration and affirmation here.

All this being said, we did have a nice few hours away from our desks, eating chili together, and talking about basketball. As the judges were leaving the studio, they were debating whether to meet up at Skyline Chili or Wendy’s for lunch.

4th Annual Cornhole Tournament

September 14, 2017 • admin

The best party this side of Front Street (for a good cause, too)!

We’ve done it again! It’s always so heartening to see the same faces who support our events mixed in with some new ones. We really couldn’t do this event without you. (Here’s lookin’ at you, DIRTT, Premier Commercial Construction, Mohawk, Jezerinac Geers, Shaw, King.)

This year we supported The Chapel Hill House. It’s an organization that offers a sense of retreat to families suffering through childhood cancer. The fundraising efforts are going to help construct a (really cool, aesthetically pleasing) treehouse that encourages their mission. We were able to get some sponsors to help us throw the event (see above). Because of them, all ticket sales went straight to CHH. Not to mention we had Mikey’s Late Night Slice and so many beers from Land Grant. We also had a silent auction where most items were donated from local vendors like PINS Mechanical Co., Land Grant, Columbus Landmarks, OVS Co., Tim Hawk (the artist, the legend), and many more. All proceeds from the silent auction go straight to CHH as well.

Needless to say, we’re rollin’ in cash for The Chapel Hill House… as much as a fundraiser for about 150 people can allow. A big thank you is in order. THANK YOU!

For next year, we plan on not allowing our studio ringers to participate. Or at least make them throw the game once they get to the final four. Let someone else win, ya nerds.

For more info about The Chapel Hill House, visit their website here:


AIA National Convention 2017

April 29, 2017 • admin

Architects across the country come together, learn, and inspire at the annual AIA Convention.

WSA Studio’s two principals, Tim Hawk & Todd Boyer, ventured down to Orlando to represent the firm at the 2017 AIA National Convention.

The convention featured four full days of speakers, workshops, vendors, networking, and showing off WSA. The theme of the convention was Anticipating a Better Tomorrow, which, according to the event website, embodies what it means to “Harness the collective intellect and entrepreneurial spirit of speakers whose power to anticipate has shaped their careers and our industry. Over three days our keynoters will explore this theme and what it means to anticipate need, challenge, and change in architecture and design.”

The keynote speakers personified that message. Anticipating change, challenge, and need were all touched on, with special guest, former First Lady Michelle Obama. The AIA National Convention is all about learning from leaders around the globe that are making strides towards bettering the world through architecture and related fields. Wherever the interest lies, it can be found here in an educational and inspiring way.

Steelcase Global Headquarters Tour

March 20, 2017 • admin

We trekked up to Grand Rapids, Michigan to check out the Steelcase headquarters.

The WSA team trekked up to Grand Rapids, Michigan to check out the Steelcase headquarters and learn more about their research in the education field.

Steelcase claims to be the first to discover the latest trends on how people work, learn, and heal in workplace and educational environments and we’ll tell you, they’re on the right track. The WSA Team was very impressed with some key individuals we met on our trip. Their research is top-notch and clearly paving the way for their innovative furniture solutions.

We did have some extra-curricular fun along the way as well. We visited the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meyer May House, toured the gorgeous new library at Grand Valley State University, and even had enough time to check out the famous Founders Brewery.

4th Annual Chili Cook-Off

February 10, 2017 • admin

Nothing beats the mid-winter blues like winning First Place Chili.

A few years ago, WSA Studio took a turn and made a major decision in terms of the firm dynamic. We decided to harness the individual competitive spirits in the firm and use them for good and not evil. We thought “What can we do to bring everyone together while simultaneously plucking out their weaknesses for everyone to poke fun?” The outcomes have far surpassed any expectations placed on the event and it’s something we look forward to each year.

As most everybody knows, we enjoy food. We enjoy it so much. It makes total sense for us to have a competition surrounding the idea that we enjoy food. And, in general, we are a group of competitive individuals. Chili is simple enough to glitz up and add variety. A chili cook-off was a no-brainer. Instead of trash talking in hypotheticals, we turned it into a reality. “If we had a chili cook-off, I’d win” turned into “Remember last year when I won the chili cook-off?” with an arrogant tone. Troy has won judges’ vote two years running and, as pride crushing as it is for the rest of us, he lets the trophy sit on his desk to collect snarky glances and dust… until next year. Watch your back, Troy.

Thank you to our judges: Jon Horn with Bright Focus Sales, Tamra Fuscaldo with Continental Office, and Erin Bender at Otterbein University. Because of you, we hung out with people outside of the office and that’s golden. We can always use a tune up on our social skills.

Todd’s Principal Party

October 12, 2016 • admin

Cheers to our new Principal, Todd Boyer, AIA!

2016 was a big year for WSA Studio. We finished some big projects, acquired some new ones, and made some really important studio leadership decisions. One of those decisions includes that time we decided to shackle, drug, and position Todd Boyer’s hand in the right position to sign on the dotted line and take some ownership of this place. (Just kidding. He mostly did it willingly.)

Because we love Todd (and because his wife does too), we ordered him some new business cards, put them inside a box inside another box inside another box so he’d immediately be annoyed when opening them, got some cocktails ready for a Tim Hawk original toast, organized a table of cookies with his face slapped on the top of them, and, of course, Geoff made a poster with Todd’s face Photoshopped in place of the principal’s from The Breakfast Club. We had a happy hour at 3:30 pm and reflected on the best Todd stories over the years. He was the first to leave because he said had to pick up his kids, but we like to think he had to leave before he got choked up from being so overwhelmed at the outpour of respect and support from his team. And, have you ever eaten a cookie with your own face on it? It must be a weird feeling. It should be mentioned that this party also doubled as his 40th birthday party. We were all like “Happy Birthday, Todd. Can’t wait to complain to you about our benefits package.” (Just kidding. We have a pretty solid bundle of benefits… including 3:30 pm happy hours.)

All jokes aside, Todd is revered and between his pragmatic nature/eagerness and Tim’s vision, we’re in good hands. Lucky us.

3rd Annual Cornhole Tournament

September 8, 2016 • admin

The best party this side of Front Street (for a good cause, too).

About three years ago, we sat and thought “What can we do this season that’s fun and social and gets people into our culture to see what we’re about?” Obviously we wanted to have a party, but we thought isn’t a theme party a little child’s birthday-esque? We’re grownups after all! So… we really put our Ohio heads together and thought about a party. The outcome was far more important than our majority Appalachian heads could have ever dreamed of.

The ingredients of a good party in Central Ohio: craft beer, good music, the party people of WSA Studio and friends, and a game or two of legit cornhole. This year we went all out. We secured a band, The Echo Echoes. We continued our food truck tradition and talked Aromaku into coming out with us. We got Land Grant to provide us some booze. We also got all of it paid for by our sponsors so that any money we raised by way of team entries and 50-50 tickets went straight to The iBelieve Foundation, an organization that raises money to send high school students from Appalachia to leadership camps around Ohio and surrounding areas.

We’re already planning 2017’s tournament. We’re trying to turn our studio into a competition space so we can toss some beans all year round and stop losing our homecourt advantage. It’s almost embarrassing how quickly most of us get knocked out. We do have a good time, though. Eating and drinking and talking to good people all night. Thanks to our sponsors: King Business Interiors, Continental Office, DIRTT, Shaw Contract, Danis, Bruce Longhino Group, Hamilton Parker, Innovative Office Solutions, Ohio Valley Supply, Maharam, Knoll, USF Contract, and Oberfields. Seriously. Thank you for jumping on board with us.

For more info about The iBelieve Foundation, visit their website here:


IIDA Product Runway 2016

May 26, 2016 • admin

This industry staple event lets designers get creative (and competitive) as they craft costumes out of architectural materials.

A Harry Potter nerd, a poetry nerd, and a costuming nerd walk into a bar… just kidding. They walked into a basement to work their fingers to the bone for Product Runway, a really cool event where a designer teams up with a product vendor and makes a runway ready outfit made out of the vendor’s materials. It benefits Dress for Success and it’s just a fun thing we get to be a part of. And we were reigning champs going into this event. Our cowboy costume won a few years ago, so no pressure.

We teamed up with DIRTT Wall Systems and added three to four people to our team. (Shout out to Megan, Steven, Karen, and Kelly.) So, for a few months, the seven or so of us crammed in Geoff’s house dispersed all tasks related to building an award winning costume out of materials used to build walls. Needless to say, without showing any favoritism, it was fit for an introverted poetry nerd to strut awkwardly, like Bambi, down a runway and act like a brat for an evening. We may not have kept our winning title, but we had such a great time doing it. It’s so energizing to be inside a venue when it’s filled with highly talented designers and creative individuals. Collective energy is inspiring.

Grand Opening: PAST Innovation Lab

April 26, 2016 • admin

The new home for innovative educational models in Central Ohio.

The PAST Innovation Lab is a project that holds a very special place in our hearts. Not only did we get the opportunity to design a space for an organization that focuses on learning in the future, but we also designed a space that meets our standards for innovation.

To us, the grand opening was more than a celebration of the new space. It was an event that brought the community together to congratulate The PAST Foundation on succeeding in their dream of opening a home where ideas can flourish and students can gain unique learning experiences.

At the root of WSA is a group of really good people focused on providing really good design for really good clients. The PAST Innovation Lab is the proven idea that good design prevails over obstacles, and we are glad to be part of it.

For more information about The PAST Foundation, check out their website at https://pastfoundation.org.


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