WORKac shuns "office as playground" for
Wieden + Kennedy's NY headquarters

| 8 comments
 

You won't find slides, ping-pong tables or other faddish touches at the New York offices of advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, designed by US architecture studio WORKac (+ slideshow).

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Instead, the 4,600-square-metre space in Lower Manhattan features places for collaborative work and discussion between Wieden + Kennedy employees.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company



"The design for Wieden + Kennedy New York moves away from the office-as-playground to put work back at the heart of creative work," said WORKac, who have banished the kind of fashionably juvenile equipment found at the offices of GoogleMicrosoft and Lego.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

The architects did however opt for a fashionable staircase-cum-seating-zone and included four categories of work areas in various sizes, ranging from 245 open office spaces to ten large communal spaces.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Meetings take place in phone booths and around picnic tables, as well as at more traditional conference rooms.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

The offices occupy the sixth to eighth floors at 150 Varick Street. Each of these three levels is broken up by glass partitions, intended to create a sense of openness.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

A round black reception desk sits beneath a graphic of the company name at the entrance.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

The lower two storeys are connected by a circular wooden staircase that doubles as a seating area, while a spiral staircase with metal mesh banisters allows access to the smaller third floor.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

The large holes in the floor plates created by these vertical links help to visually integrate the different levels.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Surfaces in the library on the top storey are lined with bamboo panelling, contrasting with the polished concrete floors that feature throughout most of the interior.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

A covered terrace on the lower floor features wooden decking surrounded by planting, providing employees with outdoor space and views of the city.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Other facilities include a multipurpose gym, a kitchen and lounge areas, plus a bar next to the spiral staircase on the middle floor.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Dezeen columnist Sam Jacob recently wrote an Opinion column calling for an end to the "tyranny of fun" in office design.

"These are places of perpetual adolescence, whose playground references sentence their employees to a never-ending Peter Pan infantilism," Jacob wrote.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Photography is by Bruce Damonte, unless otherwise stated.

Here's the information sent to us by WORKac:


Wieden + Kennedy, New York

Renowned advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy has developed a global reputation for innovative work dating back to their early Nike campaigns in the 1980s. The agency’s Portland headquarters designed by Allied Works cemented Wieden+Kennedy’s position as a patron of architecture and continues to influence the design of their offices around the world.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

WORKac's design for the agency's 50,000-square-foot New York office embraces urban density as its motto: a minimal compression of individual work spaces that opens up room for a gradient of diverse collective spaces.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

The design for Wieden+Kennedy New York moves away from the office-as-playground to put work back at the heart of creative work. After a foray into the history of the workplace, research revealed that while advertising agencies have always been at the forefront of cutting-edge office design, no single workplace trend has replaced those that came before. Rather, the ways that people work have continued to evolve, layer and multiply.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

Because work at Wieden+Kennedy is highly collaborative, WORKac designed the widest possible range of discussion spaces to accommodate meetings and gatherings of varying size, privacy levels, and duration. Teams can choose to hold quick reviews standing up at 10-foot-long "Over-The-Counter" blackened steel tables; have informal discussions in lounges with comfortable furniture and natural wood floors, raised to different levels to create a sense of privacy; or gather in the kitchens for working lunches.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

More traditional meetings can be held in conference rooms that range in scale from smaller, intimate "Phonebooths," to "Picnic-Table" meeting rooms that accommodate up to 10 people to larger, formal "Wide-n-Long" conference rooms. Glass walls create a sense of lightness and transparency to the space. Clusters of these different meeting spaces are organized around groups of 20-25 people in open offices, featuring polished concrete floors.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

A series of larger collective 'moments' are distributed vertically to serve as the connective tissue for the agency. These spaces open up views across the office through circular oculi that create the largest possible openings in the floor slab while minimizing structural impact. Connecting the 6th and 7th Floors, a circular-shaped, walnut-clad "Coin Stair" features bleacher seating that can accommodate office-wide meetings or informal discussions below a spider-shaped structure that transfers load from a removed column. On the 7th Floor, a white-tiled bar provides an opportunity for end-of-day office celebrations. Connecting the 7th and the 8th floors, a perforated metal spiral staircase leads to a generous bamboo-clad, library "den on the 8th floor.

Wieden+Kennedy offices by Work Architecture Company

To bring the outside in, a double-height space on the 6th and 7th floors is combined with the removal of the existing windows and a new interior storefront to create an outdoor park surrounded by blueberry bushes and visible from the street. Completely wired for power, music and wi-fi, employees can use the outdoor space to meet, eat lunch or even take a bi-weekly yoga class. On the 7th Floor, inside the office, a large, multi-purpose gym offers additional space for interaction and recreation. The space doubles as a 'black box' to accommodate the whole office for lectures or film screenings.

  • Rem

    Looks like a “playground” to me.

  • dc2bcn

    What about the fad for mix-matched everything (lights, furniture styles, fabrics, surface materials, etc) – not to mention the stadium-bleacher seating? And the cartoonish script behind the reception is not even the real Wieden + Kennedy logo. It all looks very faddish to me.

  • Romain_M

    Fad-light! For the conservative hipster.

    Joking aside, this looks well-lit, subtle and peaceful. All the while creating spaces for impromptu discussion.

  • Rae Claire

    Maybe not a playground so much as an obstacle course is that featured staircase. I would prefer some of the sillier fads to that potentially fatality-inducing safety hazard.

    • Arjay Cee

      You write that as if advert geeks falling down it is a negative.

  • spadestick

    it’d be difficult to focus on work there… so many distractions and all about meetings. That pantry looks out to nothing and seems claustrophobic. Not much actual work will get done…

  • Arjay Cee

    Primarily this architecture speaks to the colossal waste represented by advertising in our culture, and the way its wardens must be flattered and cosseted while lying to us. The stairway resembles nothing so much as a big wooden tongue — why it is stuck out and what it is licking are left as an exercise to the reader.

  • http://www.skyfactory.com/ David A. Navarrete

    What a beautifully designed office. I loved the open plan and banisters that overlook the lower floors. The ample use of daylight and the white palette combined with the wooden surfaces throughout the office give the environment a very warm texture.

    Most of all, it was genius to have an outdoor park that frames the sky and the well chosen indoor green spaces really bring all the best elements of biophilic design into the fore. It feels and breathes like a creative place.

    Congratulations to the architect and interior design team!