On the move Featured

12:29pm EDT June 22, 2004
A modern law firm has modern needs and has to project the right image to its clients.

The law firm of Walter & Haverfield decided it was time to upgrade not only its office space, but the technology that its attorneys use every day.

"When we were looking at a lease renewal in our old space, one of the first questions we looked at was the economics of the lease arrangements," says Ralph Cascarilla, managing partner of the firm. "We had a very attractive offer for here (The Tower at Erieview), but it wasn't the overriding factor in the decision. The advantages to moving to a newer space were significant.

"When comparing a new space to our offices at the Terminal Tower that is some 80 years old, the differences in the ability to adapt to technology are significant. We were able to install a state-of-the-art technology base in this space that we would not have been able to do in the same way at the old space."

The firm needed the latest video and audio conferencing equipment installed in an unobtrusive manner. Conference rooms needed DVD, VCR, cable and computer modem capability. The old space, with its steam heat, caused some HVAC issues, the layout wasn't conducive to the type of workflow the firm wanted and the views were restricted.

"The level of capability we were looking at requires a modern layout," says Cascarilla. "We have an integrated HVAC system that now works much better. For us, the new layout was particularly efficient. All our professional staff is in exterior offices with the center core housing the support staff. We also have unrestricted views here."

The firm was able to get an attractive lease and install the technology upgrades it needed to meet its attorneys needs.

"There were some nice things about the Terminal Tower," says Cascarilla. "I liked the feel that an older building allows in terms of history and a sense of continuity with a different era. The technology changes could have been done there. It just so happens that we were able to do some things here that we couldn't do in the Terminal as cost-effectively.

"The new location also has a little easier access to parking that's directly available. Parking was available at the Terminal Tower, but it was tough for our clients to get to that particular entrance. We concluded the differences of being further away from Public Square were outweighed by the pluses."

With the move complete, Cascarilla offers the following advice for a company considering a move of its own.

"Once you have decided to move, carefully analyze and think about what you want the design to do functionally so that the design is reflective of the function rather than making the function fit the design. It is a lot easier to make changes on prints than when guys are building walls. We spent a great deal of time in the design process working with the architect and the contractor.

"Look at what you want, the functions and the costs. You need to allow yourself time to do that. Where I think a lot of people run into trouble is they start trying to fast-track all that and make decisions while construction is going on. It can be very costly if you are making changes while in the build process.

"If you take the time to analyze everything, life will be immeasurably better. You really can't accomplish an effective design without it." How to reach: Walter & Haverfield, (216) 781-1212

New look

The law firm of Walter & Haverfield moved its offices from the Terminal Tower to The Tower at Erieview. Not only did the firm upgrade its technology and office arrangements, it also changed the overall look of its office.

"It's a complete change to what we had before," says Ralph Cascarilla, managing partner for the firm. "We went to a simplified, more modern look. Before, we had an Old English look, which was consistent with the type of building we were in. It would not have been consistent with the type of building we are in now. We have a clean, modern look to our new office space.

"I think it shows our firm, which was founded in 1932, evolves but doesn't fundamentally change. Clients see the office and see the evolution of the enhancements, but it's nothing that is inconsistent with our heritage and tradition. Clients have different needs. Your firm's office and infrastructure have to meet client needs.

"The configuration of the space is such, while more modern than Old English, is not futuristic in design."