Office Space: SB’s Most Fun Work Environments
Gone are the days of stuffy offices with a maze of cubicles, fluorescent lighting, and plain walls. The majority of people spend more time at work than in their own home, so why shouldn’t that space be just as comfortable? In the 21st century, employers have become more lax with office policies by allowing workers to add their own special touches to their workspace.
SB Magazine went on a search for some of the most unique (and wacky) offices in Shreveport-Bossier City. From a college instructor to architects, these locals are making work fun each day by creating an environment that is reflective of themselves as well as inviting for clients, customers and students.
If you work as a builder, it makes sense that your office might resemble a construction zone. Wieland’s downtown Shreveport office is a combination of old and new. When Wieland began renovating the space, formerly the Santa Maria Produce Store, they uncovered (and recovered) original fixtures from the historic grocery — such as the banana racks, which are now used to hang coats and hard hats. An old bar area from the building’s days as Jodie’s Place was transformed into a coffee bar and yes, they’ve kept the kegerator (with beer on tap) for after hour socials and other community events, such as the monthly Artwalk, on which Wieland is a stop.
Wieland also incorporated the building’s history as a produce store by enlarging an old photo of the store and using it as wallpaper. One of the most talked about features of the office is the John F. Kennedy mural, painted in the 1960s that was discovered behind drywall.
“JFK was the first Catholic president, so Mr. Maggio, who owned this building, was really proud of that and he had it painted by an LSUS student that worked for him,” said Charley Kingery, senior business development manager for Wieland. “It got covered up with drywall when Sci-Port was here and it sat behind it for many years. It’s one of the coolest features of the building.”
Kingery said the open-office concept was inspired by Wieland’s office in Michigan.
“There are no doors, basically, and we find that it creates a more collaborative work space,” he said. “You can reach the person and visit with them easily in a space right by each other, and you can have privacy when needed in our quiet rooms.”
And when the staff needs a little break from the grind, they can play a few rounds of ping-pong on the ping-pong table located in the front.
528 Commerce St., Suite 101
Shreveport, LA 71101
JONATHAN OFFUTT, INSTRUCTOR OF THEATRE AT BPCC
As an instructor of theatre at BPCC, it’s no surprise Jonathan Offutt is heavily involved with set design and productions. The walls of his office proudly display props and pieces from theater productions he’s worked on, as well as some designed by his students.
“A lot of this stuff is from my house, students’ work and my work,” he said. “I just surround myself with it. It’s kind of a safe haven. I always thought my theatre professors had the coolest offices.”
Painted clouds from the set of Fiddler on the Roof hang above Offutt’s desk along with characters from the musical production Seussical, which is inspired by the works of Dr. Seuss. Other talked about pieces are masks made by students in his introduction class and one of his favorite props — a silhouette of a student actor who was cast as the lead from Nicholas Nickleby.
Although Offutt prefers to keep the fluorescent lights off in his office, his space is lit with LEDs on the walls and uplights, of course.
“I rarely turn the fluorescent lights on unless I have to find something or I’m reading something,” he adds.
Jonathan Offutt, Instructor of Theatre
Bossier Parish Community College
6220 E. Texas St.
Bossier City, LA 71111
VINTAGE DESIGN GROUP & iARCHITECTURE
When your office has a slide in it, you know each day is going to be a good one. Vintage Design Group and iArchitecture are two separate architect firms but they share an office space on Lake Street in downtown Shreveport. The two-story, open office has a slide (you read that correctly) parallel to the staircase.
“It’s an attention-getter. It’s definitely unique,” said Jason Cram, architect at Vintage Design Group. “I was hesitant about putting it in to begin with, but it’s paid for itself just in the attention it’s received.”
Although the staff typically uses the stairs, the slide has created a lot of buzz with people popping in just to take a trip down the specially fabricated slide — and the staff welcomes it. But be careful when going to down because this isn’t your ordinary playground piece. In fact, the slide has the potential to launch you so far and fast they have a landing pad in place, just in case.
“It’s a rocket,” Cram said.
Vintage Design Group & iArchitecture
417 Lake St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
FREDERICK RATZBURG, ATTORNEY AT LAW
Fred Ratzburg has been practicing law for decades and while many of his clients see him under less-than ideal circumstances, he has a way of making an uncomfortable situation, well, comfortable.
“First they try to be serious because if it’s a criminal case, they’re really serious and I understand that,” he said. “But then they start looking around and asking things like, ‘is that a real fox? Is that a bobcat?’ Then they start talking more. You have to be a little more relaxed and personable.”
A fan of flea markets and antique shops, Ratzburg’s office is a menagerie of souvenirs, mementos and collector items. Some of his favorite pieces are his collection of dolls with large heads made in the likeness of old Hollywood stars, like Marilyn Monroe and the Three Stooges. The items that spark the most questions from visitors are his stuffed bobcat and white fox — neither of which he killed — however there are some stuffed ducks and a deer head from his previous days as a hunter.
Also in his office are a banjo and a guitar. While Ratzburg doesn’t consider himself a musician, he has been known to pick up a guitar and have a jam session with his son. Other treasured items are an antique chair and desk that belonged to Raztburg’s parents and letters his father wrote while stationed overseas during World War III.
Ratzburg’s 9th floor office in downtown Shreveport also has a stunning view of the city. “The federal court and the district court are right there,” he said, pointing to them from his office window. “I can show the clients exactly where they’re supposed to go.”
Fred Ratzburg, II, Attorney at Law
400 Travis St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
ENTREPRENURIAL ACCELERATOR PROGRAM (EAP)
BRF ‘s InterTech Science Park, located near LSU Health Shreveport and University Health, is packed with creative and innovative brainpower — so naturally one would expect the companies housed on campus to reflect those traits in their office spaces. Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) is one of those businesses and from the moment people walk through the doors, they can see this office is not an ordinary workspace. Colored lights are projected onto the office’s entrance, which opens to the main area surrounded by smaller offices with large windows.
Formed in 2015, EAP is a business accelerator for local start-ups and has provided services to 75 companies.
Many of the offices are equipped with standing desks, and the walls in the conference room are actually white boards, perfect for mapping out ideas and jotting down notes during brainstorm sessions. The main area is furnished with a contemporary bright blue couch and a pair of futuristic white chairs that swivel and rotate (it does require some balance).
According to David Smith, executive director for EAP, when clients come in for meetings, he takes them directly to the blue couch. “We always meet on the blue couch,” he said. “When you’re talking about innovation, you want it to be in a relaxed environment.”
Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP)
2031 Kings Highway, Suite 2045
Shreveport, LA 71103