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O+A: In Search of Optimal Office Design

01:00 - 10 May, 2014
O+A: In Search of Optimal Office Design,  The Giant Pixel Corporation: This software development company in San Francisco occupies three tight floors of largely open-plan space. “We tried to provide different levels of acoustical privacy,” says O+A cofounder Denise Cherry. “The fully enclosed conference room is for confidential conversations, but you also have in-between spaces, like the canopied cabanas, which are connected to the work area—connected to the open plan—but still have some acoustic and even some visual separation.” Conference room ceiling made of recording-studio foam manufactured by Auralex. Image © Jasper Sanidad
The Giant Pixel Corporation: This software development company in San Francisco occupies three tight floors of largely open-plan space. “We tried to provide different levels of acoustical privacy,” says O+A cofounder Denise Cherry. “The fully enclosed conference room is for confidential conversations, but you also have in-between spaces, like the canopied cabanas, which are connected to the work area—connected to the open plan—but still have some acoustic and even some visual separation.” Conference room ceiling made of recording-studio foam manufactured by Auralex. Image © Jasper Sanidad

Although office design has dramatically and drastically changed over the course of the 20th century, we aren't finished yet. San Francisco firm O+A is actively searching for today's optimal office design, designing work spaces to encourage both concentration and collaboration by merging elements from the cubicle-style office with those popularized by Steve Jobs. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Noises Off,” Eva Hagberg takes a look at some of their built works.

In the beginning was the cubicle. And the cubicle was almost everywhere, and the cubicle held almost everyone, and it was good. Then there was the backlash, and the cubicle was destroyed, put aside, swept away in favor of the open plan, the endless span of space, floor, and ceiling—punctuated by the occasional column so that the roof wouldn’t collapse onto the floor plate—and everyone talked about collaboration, togetherness, synergy, randomness and happenstance. Renzo Piano designed a New York Times building with open stairways so writers and editors could (would have to) run into one another, and everyone remembered the always-ahead-of-the-curve Steve Jobs who, when he was running Pixar, asked for only two bathrooms in the whole Emeryville building, and insisted they be put on the ground floor lobby so that designers and renderers could (would have to) run into each other, and such was the office culture of the new millennium.  

And then there was the backlash to the backlash. Those writers wanted their own offices, and editors wanted privacy, and not everyone wanted to be running into people all the time, because not everyone was actually collaborating, even though their bosses and their bosses’ bosses said that they should, because collaboration, teamwork, and togetherness—these were the new workplace buzzwords. Until they weren’t. Until people realized that they were missing—as architect Ben Jacobson said in a Gensler sponsored panel on the need to create a balance between focus and collaboration—the concept of “parallel play,” i.e. people working next to each other, but not necessarily with each other. Until individuality came back, particularly in San Francisco in the tech scene, and particularly in the iconoclastic start-up tech scene, where people began to want something a little different.

Yelp:  The cafeteria at Yelp's 110,000-square-foot campus in San Francisco features warm wood walls and light-emitting ropes. Image © Jasper Sanidad  The Tectum ceiling panels (above) appear to be largely aesthetic. “They make a beautiful pattern, but it’s not a random one,” Cherry says. “By offsetting those vertical baffles, you’re creating a series of sound barriers, so they’re actually doing double duty”. Image © Jasper Sanidad A felt canopied cabana inside the Giant Pixel offices in San Francisco. “We are open-office fanatics,” says Verda Alexander at O+A. “But it’s too simple to say a space is just open plan, because at the same time we’re creating ‘other’ spaces that mix with open-plan work areas.”  Partial acoustic and visual separation made possible by felt material manufactured by Filzfelt. Image © Jasper Sanidad  Capital One Labs:  The bank has created entrepreneurial Capital One Labs in three cities: Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco. The Bay Area outpost, designed by O+A, has 35 full-time employees operating in an open-plan space that looks and feels like a hotel lobby. The fully upholstered cubby is, Cherry says, “a cozy place to tuck away. Even though it’s really just a big open workplace, we also created these quiet little respites.”  The fully upholstered cubby, lined with Paul Smith Plaid cloth by Maharam, isolates sound while still maintaining a visual link to the rest of the space. Image © Jasper Sanidad +8

Toomath's Legacy: Defining Modern New Zealand Architecture

00:00 - 10 May, 2014
Toomath's Legacy: Defining Modern New Zealand Architecture, Toomath House, view of the Oriental Bay. Image © Simon Devitt
Toomath House, view of the Oriental Bay. Image © Simon Devitt

"What makes us New Zealanders different from, say, Australians?" William Toomath, the late modernist architect, asked himself this question at the onset of his career. In this article published by the Australian Design Review, Jack Davies takes a look at Toomath's work and how he helped define New Zealand architecture. To keep reading, click here.

"Every Building is a Social Critique" - Polshek Describes His Oeuvre in Latest Book

00:00 - 10 May, 2014
"Every Building is a Social Critique" - Polshek Describes His Oeuvre in Latest Book, Polshek's memorable design for the Rose Center for Earth and Space (2000) at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Image © Timothy Hursley
Polshek's memorable design for the Rose Center for Earth and Space (2000) at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Image © Timothy Hursley

While architects don't always see the connection between politics, social constructs, and architecture, James Stewart Polshek considers the three indivisible. In an interview on Metropolis Magazine about his newly released book Build, Memory, he describes how this belief launched his career 65 years ago. To learn more about Polshek's approach to architecture and the publication, click here.

Great Ocean RD / ITN Architects

01:00 - 10 May, 2014
© Aidan Halloran
© Aidan Halloran

© Aidan Halloran © Aidan Halloran © Aidan Halloran © Aidan Halloran +28

Video: Alvaro Siza Denounces Architecture's "Hyper-Specialization"

00:00 - 10 May, 2014

In this video, produced by Hugo Oliveira, Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza denounces the "hyper-specialization" of architecture, outlining its academic roots as well as its practical implications for practice. Siza mentions how, in Portugal, a law was considered to limit architects to their specific specialities - exterior architects could not design interiors, for example. According to Siza, this tendency towards "hyper" or over specialization is unfortunate, as it gives rise to the segmentation of the discipline into subcategories - interior architecture, exterior architecture, landscape architecture, etc. - that undermine collaboration and team work. 

Also make sure to check out the first part of this interview, where Siza discusses the obsolescence of buildings. 

The Lifting House / Guedes Cruz Arquitectos

01:00 - 10 May, 2014
The Lifting House / Guedes Cruz Arquitectos, Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos
Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos

Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos +22

  • Architects

  • Location

    Cascais, Portugal
  • Architects in Charge

    José Guedes Cruz, Marco Martínez Marinho, César Marques.
  • Area

    640.0 sqm
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of Guedes Cruz Arquitectos

Roman Catholic Church / Tamás Nagy

00:00 - 10 May, 2014
Roman Catholic Church  / Tamás Nagy, © József Hajdú
© József Hajdú

© József Hajdú © József Hajdú © József Hajdú © József Hajdú +13

Milan Expo 2015: Austria's Winning Pavilion to Simulate Native Climate

00:00 - 10 May, 2014
Milan Expo 2015: Austria's Winning Pavilion to Simulate Native Climate , Exterior View. Image Courtesy of team.breathe.austria
Exterior View. Image Courtesy of team.breathe.austria

The winning design for the Austrian pavilion of the 2015 Milan Expo has been announced. Following the Expo’s theme of “Energy for Life,” team.breathe.austria's winning proposal focuses on social change for environmental protection. The enclosed, rectangular pavilion will be planted with an abundance of native Austrian vegetation. Titled “breathe,” the project will produce enough oxygen to sustain 18,000 people by the hour and advocates for a healthier bond between the urban and natural environment.

C.F. Møller Wins Vendsyssel Hospital Competition

01:00 - 10 May, 2014
C.F. Møller Wins Vendsyssel Hospital Competition, Hospital Entrance. Image © C.F. Møller
Hospital Entrance. Image © C.F. Møller

Danish firm C.F. Møller has won first place in a competition to design an extension and renovation of Vendsyssel Hospital in Hjørring, Denmark. This winning proposal will add 14,000 square meters to the existing structure, incorporating a new treatment center, a ward for mothers and children, and a rooftop children’s playground. The new facilities are arranged around large courtyards, and make use of large windows to display the path of travel through the hospital. This helps make navigating through the large building as easy as possible.

Ormond Road Apartments / Jost Architects

01:00 - 10 May, 2014
Ormond Road Apartments / Jost Architects, © Andrew Wuttke
© Andrew Wuttke

© Andrew Wuttke © Andrew Wuttke © Shannon McGrath © Andrew Wuttke +28

  • Architects

  • Location

    Ormond Road, Elwood VIC 3184, Australia
  • Architect in Charge

    Patrick Jost
  • Design Team

    Nina Caple
  • Interiors

    Jost Architects, Nina Caple (Mini Living)
  • Builder

    Liberty Builders
  • Photographs

RIBA Regional Awards Spotlight Best of Southern UK

00:00 - 9 May, 2014
RIBA Regional Awards Spotlight Best of Southern UK, Mary Rose Museum / Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Image © Hufton+Crow
Mary Rose Museum / Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Image © Hufton+Crow

The winners of RIBA Regional Awards have been announced for the South, South East and South West regions. Among the awards were further successes for Wilkinson Eyre's Mary Rose Museum, and Adam Richards Architects' Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, both of which were also recently featured on the UK Museum of the Year Shortlist

The award winning projects will join winners from other regions to be considered for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize.

Read on after the break for all the winners from the three regions

Architecture Archive / Hugh Strange Architects. Image © Peter Cook Wedge House / SOUP Architects Ltd. Image © Andy Matthews Hilden Grange / Hawkins\Brown. Image © Tim Crocker University of Oxford Mathematical Institute / Rafael Viñoly Architects +9

Foster + Partners’ Unfinished Vegas Tower Approved for Demolition

00:00 - 9 May, 2014
 Foster + Partners’ Unfinished Vegas Tower Approved for Demolition , Harmon Hotel via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>Wikimedia</a> Commons
Harmon Hotel via Wikimedia Commons

A court approved ruling has sealed the fate of Foster + Partners’ half-built Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas. Unfinished due to structural defects, the 27-story glass tower was once envisioned to be the staple of the $8.5 billion CityCenter entertainment complex. However, since problems arose in 2008, the stunted hotel and casino has instead served as a glorified billboard. 

Though it has yet to be determined who will be blamed for the faulty construction, owner MGM Resorts International has been granted permission to dismantle the blue glass building floor-by-floor at a cost of $11.5 million. 

Nursery School / MDR

01:00 - 9 May, 2014
Nursery School  / MDR, © Mathieu Ducros
© Mathieu Ducros

© Mathieu Ducros © Mathieu Ducros © Mathieu Ducros © Mathieu Ducros +28

  • Architects

  • Location

    Baillargues, France
  • Area

    2500.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

Istra Tennis Club / Za Bor Architects

01:00 - 9 May, 2014
Istra Tennis Club / Za Bor Architects, Courtesy of Za Bor Architects
Courtesy of Za Bor Architects

Courtesy of Za Bor Architects Courtesy of Za Bor Architects Courtesy of Za Bor Architects Courtesy of Za Bor Architects +19

  • Architects

  • Location

    Moscow, Russia
  • Architect in Charge

    Peter Zaytsev, Arseniy Borisenko
  • Area

    4890.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of Za Bor Architects

Everyman Theatre / Haworth Tompkins

01:00 - 9 May, 2014
Everyman Theatre / Haworth Tompkins, © Philip Vile
© Philip Vile

© Philip Vile © Philip Vile © Philip Vile © Philip Vile +30

  • Architects

  • Location

    7-11 Hope Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9BQ, United Kingdom
  • Area

    4690.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

Theater in Montreuil / Dominique Coulon et associés

01:00 - 9 May, 2014
Theater in Montreuil / Dominique Coulon et associés, © Martin Argyroglo
© Martin Argyroglo

© Jean Marie Monthiers © Jean Marie Monthiers © Jean Marie Monthiers © Jean Marie Monthiers +30

Cliff House / Dualchas Architects

01:00 - 9 May, 2014
Cliff House / Dualchas Architects, © Andrew Lee
© Andrew Lee

© Andrew Lee © Andrew Lee © Andrew Lee © Andrew Lee +11

  • Architects

  • Location

    Galtrigill, Isle of Skye, Highland IV55, United Kingdom
  • Architect in Charge

    Daniel Bär
  • Area

    115.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

"Design Mind" Witold Rybczynski Discusses His Latest Work

00:00 - 9 May, 2014
"Design Mind" Witold Rybczynski Discusses His Latest Work, Photo by Michael Cooper
Photo by Michael Cooper

While most of the profession looks forward, author Witold Rybczynski is focused on the past. Named 2014's “Design Mind” by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum earlier this month, Rybczynski writes about historical buildings to give a better understanding of modern architecture. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Rybczynski talks about his latest book “How Architecture Works: A Humanist’s Toolkit,” the dangers of “celebrity” architecture, and his favorite non-designer chair. Check out the full interview here.