At Work: Nvironment overhauls a space in a former Short North church

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The team at Nvironment.

Seven years and growing. Nvironment began in 2008 as a sole proprietorship by Liz Hauswald focused on Interior Design, planning, and relocation services. Now, the business has expanded to include architecture services and artwork consulting, with eleven employees.

Hauswald worked from a small home office for the first 3 1/2 years, then moved into a small three room office space in Bexley. When Christopher Collins, AIA, Principal, joined the company in 2012 to form the architectural side, Nvironment Architecture, LLC, they realized quickly that space was too small. Searching for a new space landed them in the Short North on Russell Avenue, leasing 3,500 square-feet of an old building originally constructed as a Baptist church.

Basset Hound Fred loves coming to work!
Basset Hound Fred loves coming to work!

“We definitely feel the unique space as well as the surrounding area is in keeping with our brand,” says Hauswald. “It’s a great place to host a client, both within our space and within a short walk to a variety of social spots. It was converted to offices in the late 80s and we’ve been able to add our own touches to make it both a functional and living space.”

The team loved the architectural features. They were also able to refinish the wood floors and the main entrance. There was plenty of room to have an open layout which suits Nvironment’s open culture. The choir loft was repurposed and two suites were opened up to make a single space with different work zones, a kitchenette/break zone, and an enclosed conference room. Most everything was already in tact, although they did have to add plumbing to put in the kitchenette.

“Our furniture is eclectic mix of old and new, combining re-use with new pieces,” says Hauswald. “You spend a lot of time in your office so your chair is critical. We have antique drawing flat files that originally housed parts for a denture company. Some repurposed doors are used for work surfaces and old dining room chairs and an antique end table greet you at the entry – along with some quirky “dog butt” coat hooks from IKEA.”

Colorful walls and huge windows make this space a fun place to work. They also keep current trends on display through the fabric on the conference room chairs, and the carpeting.

“We change these out twice a year to reflect current trends, products, and sometimes just things we love,” she says. “We have created a large ‘inspiration’ wall in the center of the space – showcasing images, products, and just all around interesting things that the team comes across in our daily work.”

Nvironment has grown mostly by word of mouth and networking. Building relationships is critical. No loans were taken on to fund the business’ growth. Instead Hauswald and Collins carefully watched their cash flow to time when to add new hires.

“We were very focused on growing appropriately,” says Hauswald. “We started with the two Partners, utilized consultants, and slowly added employees and overhead staff as our workload increased. We’ve been fortunate that our clients are supportive of our small business and paperwork is processed timely.”

Their company has grown to support eleven people, who have been added through past relationships, word of mouth, and LinkedIn.

“We enjoy mentoring our team and providing them a positive atmosphere to grow their own careers,” says Hauswald while admitting she would have loved to have had a business-minded mentor for herself.

“It would have been great to have a small business mentor to go along with printed and online resources,” she says. “There’s no doubt that getting your MBA as you go was not top of mind when you are a designer. It has been an incredible learning experience thus far, and we continue to learn every day.”

For someone starting out in architecture, Collins suggests joining your local professional chapter as a good career move. He is a member of the local chapter of The American Institute of Architects and was a founding board member of the Columbus Architecture Foundation’s Center for Architecture and Design.

“It’s a great way to meet fellow professionals, and obtain guidance and support and for networking,” he says.

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Nvironment services local and national companies across several industries – corporate, retail, and restaurant. They also work on a variety of University projects across the country.

“One of those favorites was the recreation of University and Team Athletic Dining at the University of Miami, Florida,” shares Hauswald. “We have two recent local projects that were very rewarding, one is the relocated space for Star Jewelers in the Short North, the other, the upcoming transformation of the original Southland Mall into the corporate offices for ECOT, a premier online educational resource.”

They are very proud of their work, and Hauswald sees a bright future for Nvironment.

“We’re still at it and growing, and love every minute of it!” she says.

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Photos by Javier Jarrin.

To learn more about Nvironment, visit Nvironment.us.com.

Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.