TEI Planning + Design Redefined in Living Color

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TEI Planning + Design Redefined in Living Color

“Color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.” – Oscar Wilde

New name, new brand, new office. Urban engineering firm TEI Planning + Design embarked on a comprehensive update to expand on its 50+ year history. Formerly known as Traffic Engineers, Inc., the shorter firm name reflects the firm’s wider urban planning work. Their new brand incorporates vibrant colors and a modern aesthetic. And their new office is a showcase of the firm’s energetic culture, a cool space with a vibrant soul.

TEI’s tagline, “Work that moves people.”, describes what they do. And it speaks to their office culture. But the actual office was anything but moving. TEI relocated into The Jones on Main office suites, on the ninth floor of the magnificent art deco JPMorgan Chase building in downtown Houston, dating from 1908. The all-white décor was a bit cold, but it also made for a perfect blank canvas. TEI worked with AMB Architects’ project manager/registered interior designer Eric Trudelle to breathe life into the space.

In the process of moving, TEI also introduced new branding for the company along with the new name. Engineers have a historically bad rap for being boring, introverted nerds. That’s pretty much the opposite of everyone at TEI, where the culture is all about lively engagement and seizing the day. With the new brand, TEI introduced bright lime green and sunshiny orange to the color palette. They wanted the new office to be similarly invigorating. AMB polled the entire TEI staff for their wish lists, with nothing off the table.

Employees overwhelming asked for two things – art and plants. AMB helped TEI get not just any art, but a custom wall mural. The mural was inspired by the artwork at a favored employee restaurant, Cuchara, where the owner’s sister is an international visual artist. Using employee ideas, Cecilia Beaven created a mural that spans an entire wall in the TEI office. It’s the visual depiction of TEI’s services and features caricatures of TEI employees romping through the scene.

Maybe a stretch from traditional art, but still visually engaging, AMB specified semi-custom acoustical panels for employees’ desks. They’re practical and playful, adding pops of the new green and orange TEI brand colors. The new color palette also shows up in soft furnishings.

AMB consulted TEI on plant particulars for the office, like what soil doesn’t attract gnats and planter options. By going with commercial planters integrated into the systems furnishings, employees get all the health benefits of the plants, plus added visual privacy and acoustical absorption.

At the project kickoff brainstorming session, TEI laid out their goals and priorities. AMB incorporated the input throughout space planning and interior design. Eric loved working on finishes and furniture coordination, where he felt he could really hit TEI’s goal to make the office exude the company culture.

Fast forward to today, and TEI is loving the new space. They say it feels like them. In full color and with lots of life.

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