Workplaces after COVID-19

Workplaces after COVID-19

Workplaces after COVID-19



It wasn’t that long ago that people were able to move freely throughout their spaces, meeting with clients, working at their desks, heading out for lunch, or gathering in conference spaces. 

But as a result of the recent pandemic of coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same, at least for now and the near future.

There’s an old saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” That phrase could soon fade into extinction because of COVID-19 outbreak has and will continue to dramatically and irreversibly change so many aspects of our lives.

What seemed untenable just two months ago could be our new standard now and in the future.

We probably won’t  feel comfortable touching surfaces in public places, shaking hands even with close friends, and standing close to people we don’t know for a long time.

All of us know the impact of COVID-19 today. While the future is difficult to predict and comprehend as we take it day by day, here are a few ways in which organizations may be forced to adapt as part of a post-pandemic model:

In office physical distancing:


These are steps that employees can use to establish social distancing in their workspace.

  • Consider the physical barriers which are in place such as doorways or cubicle walls.
  • Consider establishing temporary barriers such as rolling whiteboards, sealing openings between cubicles*.
  • Where there are no barriers, but the appropriate distance exists, consider placing a visual reminder to maintain social distance.
  • In reception areas, limit the number of seats. Organize seats in such a manner so there is at least 6-feet between seats.
  • Increase distance in waiting lines. Using tape on the ground to indicate the “line starts here” concept and placing tape markers at 6-feet intervals.
  • Use phones, videos, or video conferencing to reduce the need for meetings and other close personal contact.
  • Break Rooms should be managed to reduce communal use. If safe distances cannot be maintained, consider finding alternative areas to take breaks.
  • Keep in mind social distancing also applies in other areas such as vehicles.


Daily Office Health & Cleaning Protocol:

  • Make a clean getaway: Set up stations for proper disposal of masks and gloves as they’re walking out the door.
  • Checking employees temperatures 
  • Staying home when sick


As the world keeps changing so do the people in it, if we can take one lesson away from these crazy and uncertain times is that we as the human population are resilient and we are in it together, we hope all of our past, present and future clients are staying safe. 

Our teams at Pionarch, LLC can help embrace the next normal by reimagining existing environments and plan for future projects, on time and within your budget

Count on Pionarch, LLC  to be your partner to create new beginnings. The challenging days ahead don’t have to overwhelm you, because at Pionarch,LLC the work we love to do will help you get back to doing the work you love to do, too.

Contact us so we can share ideas. 

Call 978 887 2900 to order your design service.

Church Re-design and Worship Practices in Old Buildings

Church Re-design and Worship Practices in Old Buildings

John Paul II Divine Mercy Shrine, Salem, Ma



Living Faith United Methodist Church Ipswich, Ma

Church Design

Time passes by and the contrasting differences between church’s buildings-use, trends, society  beliefs, traditions and purposes of different rites in worship practices change. The most current design challenges are: bringing old structures up to current codes and building new structures that are suitable for different religions. Churches or Places of Worship require great understanding of the purposes of ceremonies that will be taking place in such spaces. At Pionarch we are actively working on research and planning of some of these interventions.

With many of these buildings being over 100 years old, accessibility is often the #1 concern. Incorporating ramps, elevators, necessary handrails or updating staircases to meet egress requirements are priority. The codes ask to provide ADA bathrooms, kitchens and other service areas.  In some cases, increased numbers of parishioners require changes and adaptations that the structure may not be able to sustain without incurring in major renovations. Some churches experience a decreased number of parishioners which brings another set of issues with the design like changes of the use of building or its interior spaces.

John Paul II Divine Mercy Plans


Salem Church Project Results

The John Paul II, Divine Mercy Shrine in Salem is one of our most recent place-of-worship projects. With plans now completed, fundraising efforts are moving forward. Formerly known as the Polish Parish of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, this place being recently raised to the status of Shrine required preparations to be able to receive an increased number of daily visitors and required an elevator and ADA accessible bathrooms and ramps. An addition of an elevator or a lift and other ADA items will be upgraded to meet current code requirements. 

Living Faith Project Plans

Living Faith Project Progress

Living Faith United Methodist Church in Ipswich plans are in progress. We had located two potential places for the elevator addition, added restrooms per code, provided egress stair and relocated some rooms. In addition to the interior changes, we are working on a new parking layout to provide access to the building and the elevator on the rear side of the church. The project predicted construction may be in the Fall of 2020. We are working closely with the local jurisdictions towards permitting.


Challenges with Church Design 

Church building’s aging and deterioration place a set of challenges during upgrades as the time/aging combination intersects with the path of restoration. The alteration level of existing buildings dictates the requirements for code compliance and it drives the cost to renew, rebuild, replicate or even plan to build new. An example of this type of challenge is being faced on our existing project for Living Faith United Methodist Church in Ipswich, Ma. The interior main hall’s ceiling collapsed creating major damage to pews and bringing down most of the alabaster bowl fixture. Due to the cost of the repair, the church must be brought to full compliance with the new IBC, ADA, AAB, and IECC codes.

Design Process

After the code review and programming for the places of worship we move into the next phases of design by introducing appropriate engineers as part of the team. The team consists of a Surveyor, Civil Engineers, Geotechnical Engineers, Structural Engineers, MEP&FP Engineers, Acoustician and Hers Rater which is required to provide a Comcheck report. By making the elevator an exterior addition, we need to make sure that we have adjacent ADA parking spaces and proper access.

Our Services

We are always the coordinators on the projects and the advocates for our client. We provide designs for places of worship and look forward to new religious places of worship to be renovated or built in the future.

Is your local church in need of renovations? Reach us and we will be happy to evaluate your needs, and provide you with a proposal.

Georgian Architecture

Georgian Architecture

            Characteristics of Georgian Homes

Georgian style houses represented wealth and power in contrast to the poorly built homes preceding their era. One of the biggest influences of Georgian architecture was Andrea Palladio. An interesting fact about this style is that the ceiling height should be taller on the ground floor compared to the first floor (second).

Typical Materials of Georgian Architecture

The main materials used in construction of Georgian architecture were brick, stone and stucco, and wood. A typical Georgian facade could be brick with stucco details such as the broken pediments, columns, and quoins on the corners.

Georgian Furniture






One of the many interesting things about Georgian Architecture was that it didn’t stop at the exterior of the building. The people of the era that lived in these houses wanted to display their wealth, status, and power. Furniture became another way to do so. Cabriole legs were a significant characteristic of Georgian furniture. These were typically known for having “ball and claw” feet.


Georgian Color Schemes

Pale and subtle colors were often used in Georgian houses. Often used were light shades of creams, reds, blues, and greens. Floral patterns were also used, but were primarily only found in grander houses.


The doors of Georgian homes were usually tall and had lots of glazing. Double doors were often used as well.

Other Characteristics of Georgian Architecture

Some examples of Georgian architectural elements are the baseboard, balusters, windows, and hardware. What all of these components have in common, at least in this style, is that they are all decorative. The base profile is elegant. The balusters were usually very detailed. The windows are one of the most particular piece of Georgian architecture. To be truly Georgian, the windows require thin muntin bars as well as a deep reveal/sill. Lastly, the hardware typically seen in this type of home was usually metal with a glossy or brushed finish.



At the beginning, most of the lighting came from windows, fireplaces and candles.  Typically the fireplaces were at the center of the rooms to keep the whole house warm. Brick was a typical material used for fireplaces. As the era progressed, chandeliers with a highly polished or burnished brass and silver finish were used. There were typically glass elements as well. Chandeliers hung in the most important rooms of the house and contained lots of curved arms and decorations. They are also categorized by their symmetrical shapes.  Solid brass lanterns hung in entrance halls and reception areas.  Wall sconces were used on either side of the fireplace.


Branded Interiors – Pionarch’s Store Design Philosophy

Branded Interiors – Pionarch’s Store Design Philosophy

How to develop brand for retail store?

Branding for the future

Branding starts with research about the product, the character of the business, the company values and its is all done for one reason – to attract the customer. The most important reason for the store physical location is how the customer will find the store and how to speak to him/her in three seconds to attract them into the store. It has to scream to them: come here – we’ve got exactly what you are looking for. In this scenario the designer is looking for graphics, finishes, colors. He studies the psychology of buying with this particular customer in mind. What if the store is online? How do you develop a brand through a  website? Where do you start? If you are looking to open up your store online your homework must be done just the same way as if you were creating a physical store. The only difference is – your research begins with google keywords and website domain. If you do not have any idea you should contact someone that can develop the brand for you. There are companies that develop the branding package and the graphics. The problem with choosing someone that is trying to do just your brand may get you into paying for the service twice once you decide to build you physical store.

So…..???? What should you do? Where should you start?

1.You can do it all by yourself by spending years on trying to find time for it.

2. Or you can go to one stop shop that will create your image much faster and much more effectively.

Come to Pionarch  and we will lead you trough the process of how we would do it for you. Here is the preview:

  • we interview your company to establish your needs
  • we outline the services in our proposal
  • we sketch and doodle to develop your brand and feel
  • we research keywords for your SEO
  • we come up with name and tag line
  • we create logo and graphics

Find your style image here:

Idea development starts with:

research                                  exploration of ideas through media


Success is often down to plan “B”

As a store owner you struggle with the development of your image. Here is what we do to help you determine your selling strategy:

1. Find things that interest you:


2. What are the products you are selling made out of?


2. Find your inspiration:

Our role in the process of creating store branded interior is often down to bringing the visual knowledge into our design process. We reach out to books written for different fields of science to discover new ways of concept development. The true essence of design is in creative thinking and organization of data.

Grids, Shapes, Boundaries, Flows, Wheels, Spirals etc. – we are surrounded with ideas that make us think “outside of the box.” Let’s look at our famous artist Picasso. What was his phenomena? Could Picasso’s philosophy be an inspiration to a design concept? What was controversial in his analysis that made a change in painting history?

How do we tell your story!?



The key to Big ideas

“ Big ideas come from the unconscious. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant.” David Ogilvy

Marbling with shaving cream

How do we decide about the media?


Photo Collage of trees                stitch                                                   fabric painting                               print

Give us your data and we will organize it

Office Design

Office Design

Office Design

Corporate office design has many components, but the overarching idea is to make office spaces functional at any given time for a variety of people, and most of the time for different cultures. United States brings people of all cultures and races together into one “melting pot.” Corporation owners must consider the needs of all diverse employees to invite good future employees. They also need to provide them with a variety of environments to complete their work to ensure productivity and their well-being. The role of a design firm is to program spaces for the comfort of the individuals, respond to current trends, and help to create branding. Office design must respond to needs, function and organizational flow, design aesthetics, and the budget setting.

A Good Designer’s Role

A good designer must completely submerge herself/himself into the company’s daily life to understand how they operate and what their likes and needs are. One of the current tendencies show companies are leaning towards an open office concept allowing for placement of quiet, deep focus rooms or booths. Past experiments had proven “open office” may not always be a good option for some high energy areas. Some companies need collaborative office spaces to encourage conversation and teamwork, a sense of socialism, but for some it may be an everyday overwhelming and chaotic experience. We believe, creative, innovative spaces can contribute to company’s success, employees’ happiness and can be helpful in creating a successful advertising campaign. Our number one concern is solving adjacencies and special differences. We achieve these goals by working closely with client’s wishes and advising them every step of the way on the design as a whole.

A Budget Driven Design

A very important factor in successful design is a design that is driven by budget. Everyone should have a budget and a designer should help them establish one if the company does not know where to start. Having a budget does not always mean settling on boring, unattractive choices. The design does not have to be compromised by the budget. The design ideas does not have to cost a fortune. A creative designer works with the client to establish an itemized spreadsheet right at the first stage of planning. We believe this is the only way to establish a healthy relationship between the client and a design firm. At Pionarch, we help clients with budgeting in the programming phase. We make sure they can afford the changes. 

Wish List or a True Need

True needs and wishes shall be identified during the design process. If a client wants to incorporate a game room into their office space, the designer should help to identify as a need or wish. If the client says they need a shower, the designer should ask a question about why it is needed. Some employees may walk or bike to work, and they may need the shower to prepare for the work day. Having a shower in the office also encourages people to be active. Most places would like to have a kitchenette area so that people do not have to travel far for food and drink, but in some cases this may be considered excessive as the research may show nobody would use it. The designer is a good judge and can help to filter through a wish-list.  


The examples above show that it is necessary to hire a qualified designer that will support the client in meeting the requirements from the need, aesthetic and budget perspective. The modern office design methodology should not omit any of the elements mentioned above. At Pionarch, communication with clients is the key to successful office design. Our process consists of many different phases and meets and in some cases exceeds the industry standards of practice. We believe the first phase of the design, programming meetings and basic feasibility study with budgeting, sets the requirements up front and it should be performed prior to the design and design agreement. To start your planning, go to our contact page.   

Accessible Design

Accessible Design


Imagine your daily routine. Now imagine your daily routine, except this time, a bit differently. What if you were… Limited to a wheelchair? Blind? Deaf? Autistic? Epileptic? How would you have to adjust your routine to perform your daily activities? What challenges would you face? These are the types of questions that accessible design provides solutions for. Designing for people of all abilities is important when planning a space. The designer must take all current and future needs into consideration. Even if you are not disabled not, there might be a point in your life where you become disabled in some way. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) requires that design must be accessible to people with disabilities and cannot discriminate against them in any way. Accessible design considers the needs of people of all disabilities, and it allows everyone to use the space without any trouble or restriction.

Moving Up and Down

If you have ever walked up or down a staircase, you know that a person in a wheelchair or on crutches does not have the ability to do the same. This is when accessible design comes into play. In addition to a staircase, there should be a ramp or an elevator to allow everyone to have the same access to go up or down a level as they please.

Pionarch worked on a School Addition where the entrance has one step. To make this building accessible to all, we put in a ramp, which allows everyone to enter the building without any difficulty.

Another project we are working on to incorporate accessible design is a church. For this project, we are adding an exterior lift with a brick enclosure (shown below) to support people moving up and down floors that would initially have a harder time with doing so.

Moving Around

Another feature to consider for accessible design is the area one needs to move about. If a person is standing upright and needs to turn around, they do not need any more space than they are already taking up. However, if a person in a wheelchair needed to turn around, they need more space to do so. ADA requires there must be a five foot (diameter) turnaround for wheelchairs.


Think about your bathroom. Does your shower have a lip that you must step over to get in? Is your sink placed into the counter that has a cabinet below it? Both of these are things to consider when designing for accessibility. Pionarch worked on a project which required an ADA compliant bathroom for a group home. For this project, we needed to design a space that was suited for a person in a wheelchair. We needed to consider many tasks, including washing your hands, going to the bathroom, showering, and doing the laundry. For the sinks in this project, we used a sink that was open underneath with a sloped cover for aesthetics. There is still enough space under the sinks for a person in a wheelchair to roll under to use the sink. We also used an automatic faucet to make it as easy as possible. If a person was restricted to a wheelchair, they would not be able to do the laundry if the appliances were top loaders. In this case, we used a front-load washer and dryer to accommodate anyone that is doing laundry. You will notice that the shower we used does not have a lip that one needs to step over when they get in. The shower in this project is a roll in shower, meaning that a wheelchair would be able to roll in without worrying about navigating a change of flooring heights. There are also grab bars in the shower and near the toilet to assist with completing these tasks.


In any space, there needs to be enough wayfinding to tell people where they are and what is going on. For a person who is deaf, they do not have the same ability to hear directions, so there must be visual elements to assist them. If there is an alarm that sounds, there needs to be a visual feature that goes off with it so the person is alerted. If a person is having trouble locate where to go in a building, there needs to be some way that tells them where to go. The use of color for wayfinding is beneficial if each location has a different color assigned to it. However, when using color to indicate a space, you must be careful of too high of contrast. For example, if a person who is mentally disabled sees too many bright colors, they can become over simulated, causing them to have an unpleasant experience. Another example is if someone was color blind and they saw a high contrast in the flooring, they might think there is a hole, also causing an unpleasant experience. Pionarch worked on an Office Building Lobby design, and in this project, we indicated the location of offices with a sign in the lobby, as well as with different colors. The combination of these two visual elements was enough wayfinding for anyone to navigate the space with ease. We also had a mix of larger and smaller hallways to indicate the transition from one space to the next.


Another key element of accessible design is texture. The use of different textures is beneficial in multiple ways. One way it contributes is to wayfinding. A change in texture indicated a change in location and a change in object. This is useful in the sense that if it is on the floor, and a person who was blind was using the space, they would be able to feel the change in texture and know they have crossed over into another space. Think about crossing the road. If there is a physical indication or noise that alerts a blind person when it is safe to cross, they are able to navigate much easier.  Another feature that would be beneficial for a person who is blind is the use of brail. That way, they would be able to feel where they are and where to go next. Pionarch worked on a Back Lobby and Vestibule project, and for the outdoor area, it was crucial to locate where the pathways were for the users. There is a change of texture from the parking lot pavement to the walkway. There is also a change from the walkway to the grass and gardens. On the interior, there is also a texture change from the lobby area to the receptionist area, indicating those are two spaces with different uses. Those texture changes all occur on the ground, but there are ways to use texture on the walls as well. In the lobby area, just under the logo, there is a textured wall feature that draws attention to the reception area.


Accessible design means the space is easy to navigate for everyone, no matter their ability. There are many beautiful and creative ways to design for accessibility and the possibilities are endless. Don’t know if you’ve got the hang of it? When considering accessible design, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagine if you were disabled in a way that made it more difficult to navigate through your everyday life. What challenges would you face? How can you solve them? Accessible design is all around us, making our daily lives easier and obstacle free.