Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Office Design and Pictures

I really looked forward to your bionic office article but ultimately was hoping for more detailed information.  I would be grateful to see some (many) more pictures along with an overview of the entire layout.  I am sure that others who are not able to make the "open office" would appreciate the same.

In addition, I had a question regarding the light on 3 side’s concept:

Is the side opening a hole in the wall or an inside window?  I wonder about inter-office noise with this and the thin plastic walls.  Perhaps a follow-up article that discusses anything you would have done differently having spent some time developing in the new environment would be useful?

Finally, regarding your UPS implementation is this a ‘smart’ implementation where developers systems are automatically powered down as battery power becomes low or are these only required for a brief period before the buildings generators kick in?  How specifically does the server room UPS array interface with developers outlets?

Pete Jenkins
Friday, March 5, 2004

There are only so many pictures of power outlets I can put on my web site before it becomes quite boring!

The side opening is an inside window. It's glass. The glass panes arrived a bit after we moved in so it's possible not all photographs were taken while the glass was in place.

Most interoffice walls are actually sheetrock. The acrylic walls are between offices and the main area, but they are all double walls to accomodate sliding doors. This is much more soundproof than even sheetrock because studs tend to transmit sound very well from one side of a wall to the other side, and since these acrylic walls are double walls with space in the middle the sound isolation is quite good.

Basically we've found that we can close the door and turn on music at a reasonable volume and nobody else will hear it, or, if they hear it, it will be barely noticeable. A lot quieter, indeed, than the sound transmission between my upstairs neighbor's apartment and my apartment.

The UPSes are just standard desktop UPSes (Belkin 1000 VA thingies) which are designed to provide 15 minutes of power to up to two computers and two monitors (per desk). They are really there to prevent power flashes (1 second outages) and brownouts from causing data loss. If the power goes off in New York City, we would (a) wait for the building emergency power to go on so that the elevator works again and (b) go home and eat any ice cream our of our freezers before it melts. We are not trying to keep the office running during the major blackouts New York gets every 20 years or so (although our server over at Peer 1 will stay up) -- it's just not worth it.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Sunday, March 7, 2004

Oh I should mention that when the Plasma TV is on (it has it's own power amplifier and it's hooked up to the DJ sound system I bought for the new years' party) it's really annoying for the offices on that side :-) So we can't really watch Starship Troopers during the day.

And we would seriously consider getting a lot more carpet next time and a lot less wood floors, just to deaden the space a bit. It's a little bit too "live" acoustically.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Sunday, March 7, 2004

Is 1000VA enough for two computers and two monitors?

Given that computers ship with 300W power supplies and monitors consume quite a lot (or are you using LCD?) then aren't you cutting it close?

David Jones
Monday, March 8, 2004

"So we can't really watch Starship Troopers during the day."

And I wouldn't watch it at night, either.  For someone who read the book...well, it left a lot to be desired, I'd say.  :)

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, March 8, 2004

Backup generator power (natural gas) isn't actually as expensive as people make it out to be. (You probably spent more on your plasma TV.)

Power outage frequencies do vary depending on location, but it doesn't take too many employees knocked out of the zone for a generator to pay for itself.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Phibian, I would speculate that just the plans for adding a generator to a small NY city office such as Fog Creek's would cost more than the plasma TV.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Maybe I overestimated the cost of the TV (was assuming ~Cdn10,000).

Adding a generator requires:
-Buying the generator
-Finding and prepping a location (often a roof or beside the building in the parking lot)
-Running the electrical wires
-Connecting the gas

Here in Ontario, you need agreement from your landlord (if applicable), the work to be done by a qualified electrician, an electrical safety authority (ESA) inspection (which, eyebrow-raisingly enough, many electricians treat as an optional "extra" instead of a legal requirement) and approval by the gas company (Enbridge).  While the ESA and Enbridge do their best to bury their customers with fees, neither are in the league of a fancy TV.

We share an office with an IT support company that has gotten into the generator business since just before the blackout.  Based on what I've seen - most people dramatically overestimate the cost (and underestimate the cost and frequency of minor blackouts).  Based on Joel's unilateral "it's not worth it", I doubted Fog Creek seriously investigated the possibility of generator power, hence my comment.

Of course, then you can't just flip your circuit breakers when you feel like an ice-cream ;)

Monday, March 8, 2004

-Finding and prepping a location (often a roof or beside the building in the parking lot)

I think the funniest thing about midtown is that there is NO unused space around a building.  Parking lots are full of cars parked bumper to bumper.  It is like one of those sliding piece puzzles for them to get your car out.  There is no strip of grass between the building and the sidewalk, or between the sidewalk and the road.  There is very rarely any space between a building and the one to its left or right.  Occasionally there will be space behind the building, almost never more than 20'.

Pretty much everything goes on the roof.  I don't know whether landlords are typically very cooperative about having you put your own equipment up there.  I'm pretty sure you would have to depend on the landlord for any maintenance that it needed.

I think a lot of equipment like this gets space inside the office.  When the blackout happened, it was amazing to see how many orifices all of the buildings were smoking from.  It doesn't make me feel terribly safe to have exaust vented below the roof line, especially when everyone is doing it. 

Keith Wright
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home