Location288 Xinghu St, Wuzhong Qu, Suzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, China
Design TeamJulius Kanand, Zoe Zhu, Roy Wang, Ann Cheng, Noel A. Jimeno, Lucy Quan, Gary Wang, Dan Dang, West Lu
Text description provided by the architects. The 339,000 square-foot office building is a bright, energetic space anchored by a colorful nine-story atrium and a flexible workplace for up to 1,500 workers. It was inspired by China’s famous Suzhou Gardens and its caretakers, who believe in creating a space in perfect harmony with nature. The office boasts a huge cafeteria and ample recreational space, including an indoor gym, game room, outdoor sports courts, and health and wellness space.
The team’s goal was to create a stunning, eye-catching design, one that emphasized Microsoft’s connected way of working and could help the company attract the best talent.
“The key metaphor driving the interior design concept was connectivity,” Julius Kanand Director at interior design firm PDM says. That theme grew out of the nine-story building and its large atrium, which is connected by a central staircase and bridge crossings on four floors.
The design team tapped into the rich heritage of Suzhou, a trading port famous for its classically designed gardens that date back to the 6th century BC. Suzhou boasts nine “Mountain and Water” gardens that are noted for their exquisite craftsmanship, artistic elegance, and rich cultural implications. A tenet of the design is creating a space in perfect harmony with nature, adding greenery where possible, installing a small garden on the first floor to anchor the atrium, and simulating trees in one part of the cafeteria.
To create an impact and energize the space, they decided to make the nine-story atrium colorful and vibrant, using an ochre color scheme on the first floors to mimic the Earth’s ground, gradually transitioning to greens for tree canopies and then vibrant blues to signify the sky.
The atrium design called for sixty different types of glass in several fading colors, each in a pixelated pattern as a texture playing off a computer pixel. Natural light streams in from the atrium’s clear glass ceiling, energizing the space during the day and calming it as the sun fades.
They created shared spaces close to the atrium to encourage people to take the stairs and use the bridges and to connect different groups. Team spaces were filled with dedicated work stations and contain their own meeting rooms and phone booth spaces. To separate team spaces, they created two open collaboration areas and then a wall in case a team needs security and access control for confidential projects.