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National Futures Association’s (NFA) planned Chicago office relocation required a major pivot when the world shut down during the pandemic, prompting NELSON Worldwide to anticipate the future of the workplace and adapt its design to follow suit. In conjunction with CBRE’s workplace strategy team, we addressed several challenges including a significant reduction in square footage and a hybrid work schedule. We used meticulous planning and data collection to optimize NFA’s new office space.

Ultimately, NFA’s goal was to cost-effectively create a people-first environment that employees would look forward to collaborating daily. NFA landed on a vibrant new building in Chicago, 320 South Canal, and our design experts stepped in to infuse the organization’s mission, culture and forty-year-long history into the space.

The building’s exterior – defined by sharp, geometric shapes and vertical lines drawing the eye upward – inspired NELSON’s design concept, “The Fold.” Borrowing from origami’s philosophy of endless possibilities, “The Fold” emphasizes the potential for a fresh perspective to transform any space into something entirely new. Playing with the angles of walls, ceiling and flooring elements allowed the NELSON team to create a space that guides guests and employees toward strategic intersection points designed for interaction.

NFA employs many Compliance Examiners who conduct individual work and teamwork throughout the day. To accommodate this workstyle variation, we designed a custom solution for NFA: team rooms. This concept efficiently marries both workstyles in twelve mid-sized conference room spaces. Each room has six to eight mobile tables that can either be assembled together to create one large conference table, pushed against walls to transform into individual workstations, or reorganized for video conferencing. Offering boundless flexibility, the custom concept aids with training and development and efficiently leverages the space for the organization’s unique needs.