FORM Architects founders Rob Wiersberg and Mike Cipriani spent more than ten years building their brand and reputation elbow-to-elbow with other D.C. architectural firms in Georgetown. Yet when their lease ran out and they needed more space, they decided to consider Rosslyn as a possible next location.
They had been touring offices in Rosslyn with their client, Promontory Interfinancial, who ended up relocating to a building managed by Tishman Speyer at 1300 N. 17th St. The FORM team liked what they saw here.
"We liked the higher buildings, the urban density, the hustle and bustle, people using mass transit," Wiersberg says. "Instead of bumping into people walking their dogs and going to yoga class, we were bumping into people going to work who were busy and active professionals, and we liked that."
The firm, which designs commercial interiors for businesses and workplaces, gave their real estate broker specific parameters for their next location: They wanted an accessible shell space they could design themselves. It had to be on the first floor and it needed high ceilings.
When they first visited the space where they would move, Vornado's 1777 N. Kent St., they loved it.
"It was perfect," Wiersberg says. "But then we were in this battle: Is it the right choice for us to leave D.C.?"
So they did their homework. They polled clients for their thoughts on the move. They talked to staff. The entire team came to tour Rosslyn and see the space.
"We told our team that we think the future of Rosslyn is very bright," Wiersberg says. "We are excited about the development here, and we're excited to be here early in the process to get a front-row seat to that."
In coming to Rosslyn, they've joined other well-known architectural firms that are based here, including KGD Architecture and Cannon Design. All take advantage of Rosslyn's growing list of amenities, including more than 100 restaurants and retailers, a bustling food truck scene, and over 100 community events per year, from beer gardens to free movies to fitness classes in the park.
"The energy here is terrific," Wiersberg says. "It's been a really great move for us."
FORM arrived here in November 2015. Wiersberg says they saw the benefits of being in Rosslyn "almost immediately."
Costs are lower here, he reports, and FORM is paying less for rent and parking. Wiersberg says Rosslyn's accessibility has also been a tremendous benefit to their business.
"Within the first month we realized how easy it is to get to Rosslyn and how easy it is to get to places where we do business," Wiersberg says. "We found out we could get to places in D.C. quicker than we could from our Georgetown location. People had closer access to Metro. We even have Car2Go right out front."
As they had wished, FORM designed their offices from scratch, treating themselves to the same visioning process they provide for their clients. Together they created a cutting-edge space that is in keeping with current design trends for hybrid office layouts that provide a mix of public and private spaces. In FORM's case the focus is more on comfortable, collaborative spaces that encourage teamwork and creativity.
In conjunction with their move, FORM also promoted key staff and revamped their benefits package to place greater emphasis on work/life balance. They were named a "Best Place to Work" by Washington Business Journal. Members of the 25-person, close-knit team work wherever and whenever they want. Some telework, while others enjoy the benefits of their office's flexible design, which allows them to retreat to individual workstations, collaborate at a long table, work outdoors, or settle in at FORM's comfortable living room. Team members no longer track their hours, and with approval can take off as much time as they want, as long as they're getting their work done.
"I think people in professional service industries tend to be treated like a commodity. We're selling our creativity and our design abilities, and we don't want to treat our staff this way," Wiersberg says.
FORM's leaders foster a family feel, and while the family is currently growing and adding new staff, Wiersberg says the team will never exceed 30 people.
"We don't want to be a 35-person firm," he says. "Instead of doing a higher volume of work that would necessitate a bigger office, we'd rather go after a higher quality of work with bigger design opportunities."
To learn more about FORM Architects and see examples of their work, visit their website, www.form-architects.com.
To view a photo gallery of their office, click here.