Office Design: The Latest Architecture and News
This article was originally published by Amar Singh on Medium titled "You're working in the wrong place."
At my most recent job, I did all of my best work at home. I would actively try to avoid the office for as long as possible. At home, I had two desks and complete control over my environment. Distractions and breaks were choices.
Once I went into the office, the environment changed. There were constant distractions, from other employees, dogs barking (for the record: puppers were a net positive), impromptu meetings and birthday celebrations. It was very difficult to get into flow states and incredibly easy to be broken from them. Of all the places I could work, my desk at the office was often the worst option.
The latest innovation in workplace design, Clive Wilkinson Architects’ “Activity Based Working” (ABW) has revolutionized the way people go about their daily activities at the GLG Global Headquarters in New York. Broadening the idea of workable area to a number of specialized environments, ABW fosters a new dynamic in office relations, providing spaces for both individualized activity and collaboration. Experience this through the Spirit of Space-produced video above.
Have you ever wondered if you would be happier working in a LEED building? Wonder no more - a new study says no. Although the findings indicate employees are generally satisfied with working in green-certified buildings, they are no happier than they would be in a non-LEED building. The study, which contradicts previous findings, was conducted by Sergio Altomonte from the Department for Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Nottingham and Stefano Schiavon from the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California Berkeley.
To arrive at this conclusion, data was collected through a web-based survey tool by the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at the University of California Berkeley. In total, 65 LEED and 79 non-LEED buildings were selected to participate in the study. Building occupants were surveyed and asked to rate their satisfaction on a 7-point scale of 17 indoor environmental quality parameters, including amount of light, furniture adjustability, air quality, temperature, and sound privacy.
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.