The SSA Model Field Office is a project built in an existing building in the location of an abandoned daycare facility. It addresses sustainability best by space reuse, but the project is most innovative in its universal design and technology integration. It is those goals that make the project truly sustainable by allowing it to be flexible for SSA's diverse customer groups and remain a valid service center to the community for many years to come.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) sought to evolve its public service and create a field office of the future to enhance efficiency and provide the public access to SSA with the use of self-help, touchscreen technology. We designed a new 9,400 SF field office within the existing Harold Washington Social Security Center building. The building originally had an employee-only entrance off of Madison Avenue. Since the new field office was going to be open to the public, we created a new entrance off of Washington Avenue with a new plaza, signage and a glass enclosed lobby to draw visitors in. Our team invented a new interview station that integrates both person-to-person and touchscreen self-help interfaces. With this layout, SSA has the freedom to focus their employee assistance where it is most needed. Technology is integrated into the architecture and is designed for universal access to accommodate SSA’s diverse population. At the check-in stations the touchscreens have a vertical orientation so if a person is standing they can use the screen on the top half of the monitor, or if a person is in a wheel chair they can touch the bottom half of the screen to activate that portion. Since the office can have over eighty customers, it was important to provide a light-filled environment to promote a positive experience while waiting. For customers looking to get in and get out, there are six self-help kiosks, where an SSA employee will only interface with you via video chat if requested.