"There are companies that build buildings just to seat people," says Andrew Garnar-Wortzel. "They don't take into account how the building drives their business."
Office space in the private sector should reinforce the corporation's brand, says Garnar-Wortzel, a principal in architectural firm Gensler's New York office. "The office environment is not just about the physical space. It's also about the tools, the technology, the organizational structure of the company, and its culture," he says. It's the responsibility of the design team to successfully merge all those elements.
Garnar-Wortzel encourages his corporate clients to think about three dimensions of the office setting: viability (i.e., densities, efficiencies), livability (how that environment supports the ability of employees to do their work—location, tools, etc.), and what he calls "memorability," which he defines as physical elements that touch the "heartbeat" of the organization.
Garnar-Wortzel's colleague, principal Tom Vecchione, says one of the chief concerns he hears from clients is how to "sell" the corporate "story"—the brand—to their own employees. "The workplace is extremely agile and constantly evolving," he says. "A lot depends on first impressions," which makes it all the more crucial for design teams to understand the specific needs of each client.
They cite examples of varying client needs: a bank in the South whose chief goal was to attract high-quality employees ("They were willing to spend a little more to achieve the right image," says Garnar-Wortzel), in contrast to a financial services firm that needed a "fiscally responsible" look. For Weight Watchers' new headquarters in Woodbury, N.Y., Vecchione said he had to create the feeling of a "lifestyle" company.
At Dallas ad agency Firehouse, informal meeting areas near windows invite collaboration.
Shown on these pages are examples of Gensler responses to various client goals.