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Planning a Hybrid Office | ATI Metals - Case Study


This article features a case study of ATI Metals, a global specialty materials company,

and how we helped program and plan for their new hybrid office space

at The Vision on Fifteenth, in Pittsburgh, PA.


Studio SMC was brought in by ATI Metals in 2021 to help plan for new office space. Their lease was ending, and ATI was looking to relocate. Their existing office space was very traditional - private offices around the exterior consuming all of the natural light, interior office cube farms, and dated construction and aesthetics.

ATI was looking for a change. Concurrently, many companies were in the process of evaluating return-to-work policies amidst the pandemic. As a result of Covid-19, work styles and processes that were previously considered ‘new and innovative’ such as hoteling, hybrid, flex space, and open office were now booming with interest. It was the opportune time for ATI to consider new work processes and how those would look in the workplace. SMC’s core mission was to fulfill ATI’s need for employees to be productive when returning to the office by designing an atmosphere that was safe, and a space that supported a hybrid work environment.


Studio SMC distributed programming questionnaires to all employees in order to gain knowledge and understanding regarding current work processes, and needs for future work processes and spaces. The survey included information about work styles, office spaces, filing usage and needs, departmental adjacencies, and more. During this process, ATI was also distributing a remote office survey to see how many employees were comfortable coming back into the office and how often.

Surveys were taken on the number of employees needing collaborative spaces vs quiet spaces, as well as workspace needs such as private cubes vs open benching. We determined which groups used conferencing spaces and how often, and evaluated how many and what size meeting spaces were needed.

Another aspect we evaluated was how much square footage was actually needed in relation to the hybrid work schedule that would be taking place in the office. We calculated a percentage of spaces that would be unassigned vs designated vs dedicated based on employee schedules. Another need discovered from programming was for hotelling spaces - areas designed for the pop-in use of contractors or employees on an impromptu basis.


With all of the programming information, Studio SMC generated test-fit layouts that reflected the wants and needs of the employees all while considering new work processes and schedules. The idea of “designated not dedicated” spaces was a prevalent concept throughout the planning phase. Having spaces designed for a specific work type or style (designated areas) took precedence over dedicated spaces for individuals such as personal private offices and workstations.

Another approach to support the hybrid model was to include unassigned offices and cubes, as well as numerous smaller huddle rooms for impromptu meetings and collaboration. “Neighborhoods” were designed to accommodate departments or groups of employees who needed to work closely together. Ancillary furniture was suggested to help incorporate the hybrid model such as lockers, mobile and modular pieces that could easily be reconfigured, and collaboration furniture such as soft seating and high-top tables.

Technology also played a large part in planning. With the office being a “stop shop” where employees could pop in and out with no dedicated seating, we needed to incorporate a technology infrastructure that would support the “mobile” employee. We suggested mobile/wireless charging stations for use in open, collaborative areas, as well as wireless access points being accessible throughout every area of the building.


Once we had a defined space plan, we wanted to explore circumstantial scenarios and understand the variables throughout the space to prepare for what a week in the office could look like. We completed sun studies to evaluate the natural light spectrum, ran various sequencings for paths of travel to determine the best egress routes, modeled mock space utilization plans to visualize spatial and social distancing arrangements, and finalized workplace adjacencies and variety to ensure employee needs were satisfied.





To help the client visualize some of these areas, we provided isometric model images to get a true feel for the space. Seeing the 3-d plan really brought the space to life and helped the employees simulate walking through the space.

We highlighted some of the key areas of the plan and provided examples of the types of furniture arrangements would be in these spaces to help support the hybrid workplace.

Throughout this project, Studio SMC completed space plans for 3 different buildings for ATI. After evaluation, they decided on the newly constructed The Visions on Fifteenth building. Unfortunately, during lease negotiations, Studio SMC had to turn the plans and project over to the building's architect to take over the project. However, the final space turned out beautifully!

If you are in need of planning and design services - or want to evaluate options for bringing your workforce back to the office - contact us at or give us a call at 724-728-8625. We'd love to start the discussion with you!

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