Awards of Excellence 2021
FORM Architects
Saab, Inc.

Saab, Inc.
Award of Excellence
Best Interiors - Up to 10,000 SF

Project Team

FORM Architects - (Architect)
Bognet Construction - (General Contractor)
JLL - (Broker + Project Management)
GHT - (MEP) Spielmann Studio - (Photographer)

Project Description

Based out of Sweden, Saab, Inc. serves the U.S. government, industry, and commercial customers with products, services, and solutions including military and civil security. For their North American headquarters, it was important that Saab’s Washington, D.C. presence feel authentic to its international origins while embracing their American client base. Successful implementation of this balance required input from Saab’s Swedish and American teams. Ultimately, differing viewpoints united with a combined desire for Saab’s office, no matter the location, to be a visual representation of their core values. As an established company, existing brand standards provided a strong design foundation while finishes provided ample opportunity to create a space that would feel familiar to international and local guests alike.

Design elements customary to Saab’s offices provide a sense of continuity but, with the design team’s unique utilization, brand standards were satisfied in new ways telling a story that is specific to the D.C. location. Perhaps the most unique detail found in all Saab offices is the 21-degree angle, a number derived from the J21, Saab’s first fighter jet design to be built and flown. Inspired specifically by the plane’s turbine, designers created a large-scale installation at the suite entry using, 21-degree, angled metal fins. This gesture provides context to the space and is mimicked throughout in the reception desk and conference room flooring.

While certain design elements are more ambiguous, a true hallmark of this office is the laser cut metal map of DC applied over a moss wall; an overt reference to Saab’s DC presence. Taking the “where” and filtering in the “who”, designers incorporated a lightbox, graphics, and wording as a continuation of Saab’s story using visuals to clearly portray who the company is and what services they provide. These details, tempered by secondary elements appealing to the user’s senses, ensure a controlled narrative. Designers relied on lighting and materials to divide the space and provide a balance between the company’s Swedish origins and American presence. Shared spaces are dimly lit with subtle touches of warmth through wood tones, brass, and plush surfaces while office spaces, flanking either side of the reception, are more task-oriented featuring bright lighting, paint, and furniture.

Space planning played an important role in the success of this space, not only to emphasize public and private zones, but for the coordination of specific security requirements. Adjacencies between secure areas and public space required additional coordination while maintaining DC code compliance. Once approved, space planning and design seamlessly progressed to construction which began during the height of COVID-19 bringing virtual communication to the forefront. Flexible problem solving and proactive communication of site conditions ensured that external issues were of minimal impact to the client.

Designers utilized Saab’s existing brand standards and bolstered them to create a space that feels authentic and familiar yet self-assured in its new location. The space plan is well appointed with dedicated space for the local team as well as international visitors with a center vein joining both sides in an area that speaks to all facets of Saab’s corporate identity.

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