Vice President

Employee attraction and retention are critical components of successful workplace design in the 21st century. “Our clients are literally asking us, ‘What do our employees want’,” says Melissa, “because we are the industry leaders in researching and providing that information to our clients.” With her extensive experience in not only workplace design, but also hospitality and education, Melissa leads her teams and her clients in creating the new hybrid workplaces employees are actively seeking.

Variety in the types of places they can work is a top employee priority: from a formal workstation to an alcove for a private phone call; from lounge areas for working on a laptop to collaborative spaces; from kitchens with community tables to roof decks and patios. Mobility is another priority, so Melissa makes sure the necessary technology is incorporated in every work area, as well as in hospitality-style conference rooms or gathering spaces where clients are briefed, consulted or entertained. “Ours is an intentional, artful approach to workplace design,” she says, “rather than one of standardization.”

Melissa’s approach requires a genuine interest in clients’ goals and outcomes. “We implement design thinking throughout a project, from conception to completion,” she explains. This involves asking the right questions to delve into the client’s needs and vision, selecting the right tools to resolve issues, and posing creative solutions that anticipate challenges and exceed client expectations. “Trust is key,” she says, “which means enjoying a creative dialogue at every stage of the project.”

Currently Melissa is repositioning a historic building to support workplaces for 21st-century tech companies, by activating a formal lobby with a café and fireplace lounge that introduces community-building aspects to the workplace. She’s also incorporating sustainable-design strategies and well-building standards into a headquarters for a Swiss company, and folding spaces that support the healthy habits of employees into workplaces of high design. After hours, she’s a maker: sewing, painting and weaving copper wire into abstract sculptures. “It’s one thing to design, another to make something with your hands,” she says, “but both require problem solving and creativity.”