A Home for Ideas

Cramer
Norwood, Massachusetts

Cramer is a 150-person brand experience agency that competes nationally with many of the country’s leading marketing houses. Their team is made up of “tinkerers, hackers, wordsmiths, filmmakers, designers, and builders.” They define themselves by their sense of ingenuity and ability to create.

After decades spent working out of their home-base in Norwood, MA, they realized that their spaces were no longer sufficient enough to support the organization's aspirations. As well, they were not reflective of Cramer’s current energy and culture. The client sought to transform its workplace environment into an incubator for ideas, and launchpad for newly innovative client campaigns.

To deliver a space the client would be proud to call home, SMMA’s team worked to address the building’s nondescript, warehouse-like exterior and its voluminous, but inefficiently programmed interior.

Strengthening the Site

The structure was located far back on the site, visually barricaded by parking, which kept it hidden from street view. To change this, SMMA’s proposed design included increasing green space, particularly in front of a heavily trafficked intersection, to create new “front yard,” augmented by a prominent Cramer-branded sign. Other proposed site interventions sought to capitalize on shade, provide shelter, create a buffer between adjacent amenities, increase plantings, promote accessibility, and include moveable seating.

A Grander Gesture

Originally, SMMA was only commissioned to rework the interior of the building. However, the team saw an opportunity to transform the building’s entrance to make a grander gesture than a simple glass box. Client visits and tours are an important part of daily life at Cramer, and the team strove to create an entry that would impress and act as a prelude for what to expect inside.

They began by proposing subtle landscape enhancements that would draw the eye to the front door upon entering the parking lot. For the entryway itself, the team offered solutions that could be either one or two-stories. Both solutions include creating an extension from the building, capitalize on natural light, and reflect the company’s sense of purpose through a grander visual expression.

Bringing the Space to Life

The directive from the client was simple, but multi-pronged. They wanted a space that would simultaneously showcase the company’s brand and inspire greater collaboration among their studios. As well, the client hoped that a new space would attract new talent and help their staff cater to their global and local clients. Ultimately, they sought a facility that was grounded in their current culture, that would serve them well into the future as the company grows.

 

The interior of the two-story facility was large but lacked a sense of flow. One particular issue was that the client had a dining area with ample space but experienced a bottleneck during at the lunchtime rush. For much of the day, it sat largely unused. As well, the reception area lacked energy. Within both areas, the team saw opportunities to incorporate Cramer’s branding to invigorate the aesthetic of the spaces. Part of the design solution involved the creation of Red’s, a café and bar adjacent to the reception area. With a convenient location, clients no longer had to traipse through haphazard workspaces to get a beverage. As part of a larger circulation strategy, Red’s helped to reduce bottlenecking at the rear of the space via a new interior route to prevent congestion, while promoting interaction. 

Cramer envisioned a space where meetings could happen spontaneously, where informal interaction could yield the next brilliant campaign strategy, and where clients could come and be wowed by a pitch. These objectives perfectly suited our interiors and graphics teams. Our concept involved the use of shipping containers to create bespoke meeting spaces. These fit within the context of the building and created a fun alternative environment to the formality and stodginess of the traditional conference room. The design also incorporated colors from the company’s brand palette to add life to the walls.

Space is both an embodiment of and catalyst for a business’s culture. By purposefully transforming our space, we have realized profound, positive changes to the evolving fabric of our culture.

Brent Turner, Former Senior Vice President – Solutions

This project highlighted the effectiveness of SMMA’s integrated and multi-disciplinary composition, as it necessitated several areas of expertise working in concert toward meeting the client’s varied requirements and exceeding their expectations.