Business best practice changes as quickly as one thought leads to another, but the spaces where business takes place tend to lag behind — built in the ways of times past. It’s often costly to change, or venues are unwilling.
Because of this, infrastructure has long been a frustration for those working at the smart end of management.
But just as offices filled with outdated and impractical beige cubicle walls are beginning to give way to open-plan, well-appointed layouts, meeting spaces are starting to evolve as well.
The LINE Hotel in downtown Austin, Texas, is a clear reflection of this evolution.
The meeting spaces in the LINE — of which there are a great many — were created by designer Sean Knibb and architect Michael Hsu. While they are diverse, catering for as few as three or four people or as many as several hundred, they all have a commonality in their prioritization of human needs.
Hsu and Knibb place an emphasis on connecting with the outside environment in every space, evident by the focus on the flow of natural light. In both the 6,000-square-foot Onyx Ballroom and the 3,400-square-foot Topaz Ballroom, floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over Town Lake draw in either the streaming sunshine or the sparkling stars.
The smaller spaces are just as light-filled, and they are also cleverly set out to allow surrounds to transform with the needs of occupants. Options include a more traditional conference style setup in the Travertine Studio; cutting-edge digital appointments for screenings and presentations in the Garnet Screening Room; and a convivial atmosphere in the Quartz Kitchen — allowing creativity to flow between dynamic spaces.
Furnishings also acknowledge how surrounds affect the productivity of the people within. Plants and artwork from local creators lend a residential feel across all the venues, while spaces such as the Jasper Living Room are filled with lounges and soft furnishings. This more casual feel facilitates informal conversations and new idea generation.
Every space is also fully integrated with the wider hotel, meaning catering isn’t churned out from a giant banquet kitchen. Instead, it’s on par with the food served in the hotel’s three restaurants, all of which are helmed by nationally recognized chefs.
The location of the LINE is also pivotal in fostering a more dynamic meeting experience. Set alongside Town Lake and its many trails, and only a couple of minutes’ walk from downtown, it offers plenty of opportunities to reinvigorate sessions by changing scenery.
These are new kinds of spaces that match the new kind of thinking that creative and innovative businesses are doing in 2018 — and a welcome relief from the stuffy, low-fi boardrooms of old.