National Grid


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In 2009, a UK based utility company gathered steam and reached the US northeast market seeking growth and green practices in both its business practice and within its newly designed facilities.

As part of that growth, National Grid’s Northeast Headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts opened in early summer 2009. It is a 300,000 square foot facility with three floors of offices and 1700 plus employees. The architectural envelope was designed by Add, Inc, of Boston, MA, and the interior design is by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, MA.

Sasaki’s graphic design studio designed and implemented wayfinding, identity, and decorative architectural graphics that give the building and its interior the personal stamp that National Grid wished to imbue.

Of particular importance to the design team, and the client, was a conscious decision to use environmentally friendly and sustainable fabrication processes, materials, and finishes throughout the graphics program. We specified recycled acrylics, recyclable aluminum plate and dimensional letters, low VOC paints, wall tile, and cellulose wallcovering to help achieve those goals. Mega Media Concepts was instrumental in offering up to date knowledge about green materials, finishes, processes, and products and contributed significantly throughout the design development process.

Custom printed cellulose wallcovering that wraps full height support and conference spaces strategically located within a mostly “open office” floor layout takes its color cue from contextual colors and materials. Its overall grid pattern is a humorous nod to the company’s name, and a translucent theme helps building users remember which floor and building wing hey are in. (The first floor’s theme is water, level two is earth, and level three is sky.)

Removable dye subliminated aluminum graphic panels bear slogans that recall the company’s mission, and are mounted just outside cafeteria and lounge spaces. These panels were meant to double as artwork, and compliment the surrounding color and materials palette.

Since sustainable building practices were used during construction, and green-minded building operation practices were intended to continue the practice moving forward, the client looked for a way to educate and inform building users – and the design team delivered with a unique idea. A three part system of breakform aluminum sign panels with imbedded graphics was designed to communicate the company’s efforts around a sustainable issue, illustrate it with a graphic diagram, and relate a “quick hit” (easy to grasp factoid). The panels can be rotated around the building and updated as the company’s energy conservation efforts change over time.

Eco-aluminum panels were produced by Mega Media Concepts of Sparta, NJ.

The combination of fresh identity and wayfinding graphics created with green fabrication practices in mind leave a light and memorable impression on National Grid’s staff and building visitors.

–Article by Michele Phelan, former Design Director at Sasaki Associates, now leading a creative team at 96pt., in Cambridge, MA.