Color Me Coughlin Porter Lundeen

First impressions are powerful. And not only for people, but for buildings and brands too! Lobby spaces help companies make those early impressions, designed to create a sense of place, inspire a feeling or mood. It’s an opportunity for organizations to shape a visitor’s experience and impact workers who fill the office every day. It’s territory we craft with intention.

A sizeable mural greets arrivals at our ninth-floor suite in the Norton Building. We reimagine the canvases twice a year, beginning with a blank slate. Countless designs have been conceived; we’ve pinned our favorite spots on a map of Seattle, magnified exceptional details of our most treasured projects, and have asked our colleagues to reflect on their inspirations and share what being an engineer means to them.

This round, we aimed to inspire creativity and share a message of camaraderie and connection. And we tapped in-house talent to do it! In a previous Connection article, we highlighted hobbies and out-of-office activities. We reflected on our diverse interests, personalities and skill sets that make up the fabric of Coughlin Porter Lundeen. We tapped into a theme bigger than work or our current project list, commissioning our own Molly Gentry. A talented illustrator, she is often spotted doodling on her digital drawing pad during breaks.

Molly designed a black and white icon-based illustration that features items, elements and objects that represent Coughlin Porter Lundeen and the greater Pacific Northwest (PNW). Icons range from mementos specific to our office culture and projects (shuffleboard table, T9 calculators, a cat for Garo, shrimp for Bryan) to general AEC and PNW themes (crane, protective gear, ferry, mountains). It’s a playful invitation for staff and visitors to color in their favorites and sends a clear message of “we’re working together, and each making our small contribution to something great!”

Molly offers us a glimpse into her design process, its evolution and what the outcome means to her:

This project was a journey, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute such a personal piece to our office. When I was first asked to brainstorm ideas for our lobby boards, I was ecstatic. Interactive, cooperative, collaborative art is something I have always been passionate about, and I was overwhelmed with plans for the space.

Although we pitched a few different concepts, I secretly hoped that the coloring boards would make the final cut. It felt like a truly collaborative design that everyone could participate in and that would evolve over time. When we were given the green light, I was thrilled, but almost as quickly filled with dread. As one of the newest employees, I wasn’t sure I could effectively represent our company and so many people in a creative and meaningful way.

I spent a lot of time listening at company events and happy hours, talked to people in the kitchen during lunch, read the bios on our website, and scrolled through our newsletters. Thank goodness for marketing’s Kate, Mariah, and Marcie who were not only wildly supportive through the entire process but were crucial in providing tidbits about our office culture that helped shape the final illustration.

Both boards were illustrated by hand on my iPad, and I toiled over the design, running through more iterations than I can count. [See video time lapse below]. The scale of this undertaking was beyond my experience with digital art, and I questioned my ability as an artist more than once along the way. The day I submitted the final design, I was both queasy and so excited to see what they would look like when installed.

“I want to thank everyone for making it such a positive experience and for their continued contributions; I love to see and hear people coloring (well, hear people shaking paint pens in preparation of coloring!) and commenting on new things they find when they walk by. I hope that everyone can find something that they can relate to, and that visitors can get a glimpse into the diverse and interesting lives we all lead.” – Molly Gentry

Molly’s illustration reflects a “many parts of a whole” team mentality and our creativity (a core value) and gives a nod to our beloved sweet home Seattle. It intrinsically showcases wellness and mental health as a firm priority. How often do you see adults painting on the walls in the workplace? Part “I Spy,” part coloring-book therapy, part office culture celebration – we just love them.

Our new boards made their debut during Shark Week so indubitably we lured staff with a surprise shark-themed celebration. It brought excitement to an uneventful Thursday. We donned shark fins, watched shark documentaries, ate a few too many gummy sharks, raffled shark floaties, and made sure the “Baby Shark” theme song was stuck in everyone’s head before wrapping up the day.

Next time you visit the office, we hope that you’ll channel your inner child and contribute!

Check out the time-lapse video to see how it came together!