The Georgia Department of Human Services opened its newest office in Gwinnett County in August 2017. The 100,000 square-foot facility, which is situated in Lawrenceville, houses 400 employees and provides child and family-oriented programs — among other services — to over 120,000 families in the county.
Because it is a government agency, DHS officials were required to publicly bid the project. Winning the project after answering a Request for Qualifications and a successful interview process was CGLS Architects — a full service, mid-size architectural firm located in Atlanta.
Frankie Ware, an interior designer at CGLS for the past 15 years, said the design firm was entering new territory when it won the bid to design the new government building. Having traditionally specialized in academic, religious and hospitality projects, Ware said her design firm was tasked with carefully designing a government facility that handles a variety of emotionally charged and highly sensitive situations related to family and child custody issues.
Another challenge, according to Ware, was that the government agency experiences a high employee turnover rate, so the new facility would need to be designed in such a way that was inviting and gave off a home-like feel.
“We were charged with coming up with a space that would encourage people to stay and also make the clients feel at ease and at home,” said Ware.