Inside Out Blog

03 Feb

AEI Interiorscaping Challenge

We introduced AEI and its history in a previous post. In that post, we mentioned how Inside Out Services was thrilled to take on interior and exterior landscape work at AEI’s new facility in the historic building once the home to Andrew Mellon.

AEI had an aggressive schedule for assuming occupancy of their new headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC’s Embassy Row. However, the inevitable delays associated with such a large undertaking involving dozens of contractors pushed the original move in date from November 2015 back almost a year to August 2016. That additional time would prove essential once our Interior Plantscaping team began to realize the full scope of the design and installation challenges that lay ahead.

Innovative cubicle design but no elevators or A/C

The architect for the AEI project conceived a wonderful design for the interior of the historic building. He was confronted with the dual challenges of adhering to the historic landmark designation of the building which required retaining and restoring the distinctive marble fireplaces throughout the building as well as the antique wooden flooring and also creating a new interior design to house office space. The latter was achieved with an elaborate and beautiful design concept for a mostly wooden cubicle system. This would be a system with both practical and decorative components consisting of work spaces, built-in bookcases, file cabinets, and an array of wooden planter boxes.

The planter boxes were still under construction when our Interiorscaping team arrived on the scene in mid-July of 2016. The building was very much a construction site and everyone was required to wear hardhats. Amid the noise and bustle it was a typical sweltering July in DC. The elevators and A/C system were not yet functional making for hot and sweaty working conditions. The building’s dedication date was now set for September 29, 2016 and with things still very much under construction, our team definitely had its work cut out for them.

Unique planter boxes

Mill work for the planters was still in progress and in addition to the challenges already cited; we discovered several more challenges specific to the planters. The dimensions of the planter boxes were not ideal for housing potted plants, especially with many planters having a depth of two feet. The inside of the planters would have to be raised significantly so that the plants would not virtually disappear when placed inside.

Additional challenges with the clock ticking

The other challenge our team faced was that since the planters were not yet ready to receive plants we had to scrap our plan to have all 600+ plants that were to be part of the installation shipped up from our supplier in Florida. We quickly realized that we were going to need a bigger team in order to complete the interior plant installation on time. And if that wasn’t enough on our plate, there were file cabinets below many of the planters. Water and paper typically aren’t a good mix!

With the clock ticking and the dust swirling there wasn’t any time to waste. In the next post in this series of the AEI plantscaping project we’ll reveal the truly ingenious design and installation solutions our Interiorscaping team devised to solve what seemed like an impossible challenge. We’ll also tell the tale of how, by shear grit and determination, our dedicated team managed to complete such an ambitious project in time for the building’s dedication!

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