Contract - Adobe Headquarters

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Adobe Headquarters

03 June, 2013

-By Lydia Lee. Photography by 
David Wakely


Silicon Valley’s public image is that of a land of frenzied start-ups populated by young programmers. But like any other industry, there is a more mature side as well. Take Adobe, which was founded four decades ago and has since become part of the everyday lexicon. Its corporate headquarters, built in the mid-1990s, appeared to be a pillar of downtown San Jose, California, both literally and figuratively.

While Adobe has continued to prosper, bringing in record revenue totaling $4.4 billion last year, its headquarters had been stuck in the past. The three office towers, about one million square feet altogether, were designed to allow 2,500 people to work in isolation. Each floor had 85 private offices and four conference rooms; walking down the enclosed corridors, bright with artificial light, was like being in a dated hotel—lots of beige accented with stainless steel paneling.

A phased transition
“The redesign was a long time coming,” says Eric Kline, Adobe’s global workplace strategy manager. “We wanted it to reflect the creative, sophisticated design that the company represents to the world. And, of course, we wanted to enable our employees to be more productive, have more fun, and be inspired,” Kline says. He oversaw a RFP process to find the right firm to implement this major transformation. The winner was Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA), a midsize architecture and design firm based in Chicago with a local office in Palo Alto, California. The firm had previously designed the workplace of another San Jose company, eBay

Kline had been the facilities manager at Macromedia, a San Francisco start-up acquired by Adobe in 2005, and he knew what it was like to work in a less corporate environment. “Collaboration is such an important part of the development process now," Kline says. "As we move into the cloud, we need to take on some of that garage mentality. What used to be an 18-month product cycle can now be a 
five-day turnaround.”

Adobe asked VDTA to start by redesigning the outward-facing spaces, now known as the Customer Experience Center, then one staff floor, and last the executive offices. This phased process allowed the architects to tinker with the design as they went, as well as ease the company into a significant cultural transformation. The biggest changes came last, when they relocated all the executives—who had previously been distributed among the three towers—bringing them together on two floors in an open floor plan configuration.

Spaces reconfigured to reflect brand
On the redesigned floors, the difference from the old is dramatic.   Nearly all the internal walls have been removed, allowing natural light to flow through the spaces. Clusters of panel-based workstations from Herman Miller were set up by VDTA in three custom configurations: the engineering workstations have more privacy and are separated by whiteboards; general administration has more desk space; and the collaborative version is arrayed in groups of four, with a table in the center for impromptu powwows.

The desks are arranged to accommodate teams of 20 to 40 people; each grouping is classified as a neighborhood and has a variety of open collaboration areas as well as conference rooms that feature writeable walls and integrated A/V equipment to communicate with Adobe’s distributed workforce. Floor density has increased by more than 50 percent—135 people are on the floor, instead of 80—while energy use has decreased by 50 percent. The remodel has garnered LEED-CI Platinum certification.

In creating this open environment, VDTA was careful not to push the staff’s comfort level too far. “We interviewed all of the stakeholders, and a true benching system, where everyone sits together at long tables, didn’t make sense here,” says Antonio Caliz, design director of VDTA’s Palo Alto office. “I’ve seen situations in which companies implemented a redesign that wasn’t connected to its culture, and it turned out to be a failure.”

The previously generic spaces now embody the brand through 
a clean, white backdrop punctuated by such cheerful colors as apple green, lemon yellow, and tangerine orange. Walls serve as galleries for artwork from the annual Adobe Design Achievement Awards. VDTA also created custom environmental graphics: Oversize letters in Adobe fonts identify each conference room (Helvetica, Hollywood, and so forth). Introducing a residential feel, engineered pine paneling warms up the spaces, and break areas feature cozy booths and kitchenettes that wouldn’t be out of place in a city loft.

In addition to the San Jose headquarters, VDTA has since worked on Adobe offices in San Francisco, New York, and even Australia.     While the firm has not designed all 85 Adobe offices worldwide, VDTA's work is definitely part of the new foundation. “The response has been really positive,” Kline says, describing the VDTA interiors. “People tell me that they love having more of a community with their team. Our employees cross all generations and cultures, so it’s really important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable.”

Adobe Global Headquarters

  • Architect: Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
  • Client: Adobe
  • Where: San Jose, California
  • What: 15,000-square-foot Customer Experience Center; 25,000-square-foot 12th floor; 50,000-square-foot executive offices on two floors
  • Cost/sf $85

Key Design Highlights

  • Extensive use of engineered pine wood paneling and screens made from recycled doors introduce a warm, residential feel within the office towers.
  • The new Customer Experience Center features a wall with LCD screens displaying customer 
logos and an area that 
showcases Adobe software 
running on computers and 
wireless equipment.
  • Executive floors have the same open layout as staff floors; low-walled workstations are arranged in neighborhoods and complemented with casual 
seating areas.
  • Brand is infused into the spaces through custom environmental graphics featuring the company’s signature fonts.




Adobe Headquarters

03 June, 2013


Silicon Valley’s public image is that of a land of frenzied start-ups populated by young programmers. But like any other industry, there is a more mature side as well. Take Adobe, which was founded four decades ago and has since become part of the everyday lexicon. Its corporate headquarters, built in the mid-1990s, appeared to be a pillar of downtown San Jose, California, both literally and figuratively.

While Adobe has continued to prosper, bringing in record revenue totaling $4.4 billion last year, its headquarters had been stuck in the past. The three office towers, about one million square feet altogether, were designed to allow 2,500 people to work in isolation. Each floor had 85 private offices and four conference rooms; walking down the enclosed corridors, bright with artificial light, was like being in a dated hotel—lots of beige accented with stainless steel paneling.

A phased transition
“The redesign was a long time coming,” says Eric Kline, Adobe’s global workplace strategy manager. “We wanted it to reflect the creative, sophisticated design that the company represents to the world. And, of course, we wanted to enable our employees to be more productive, have more fun, and be inspired,” Kline says. He oversaw a RFP process to find the right firm to implement this major transformation. The winner was Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA), a midsize architecture and design firm based in Chicago with a local office in Palo Alto, California. The firm had previously designed the workplace of another San Jose company, eBay

Kline had been the facilities manager at Macromedia, a San Francisco start-up acquired by Adobe in 2005, and he knew what it was like to work in a less corporate environment. “Collaboration is such an important part of the development process now," Kline says. "As we move into the cloud, we need to take on some of that garage mentality. What used to be an 18-month product cycle can now be a 
five-day turnaround.”

Adobe asked VDTA to start by redesigning the outward-facing spaces, now known as the Customer Experience Center, then one staff floor, and last the executive offices. This phased process allowed the architects to tinker with the design as they went, as well as ease the company into a significant cultural transformation. The biggest changes came last, when they relocated all the executives—who had previously been distributed among the three towers—bringing them together on two floors in an open floor plan configuration.

Spaces reconfigured to reflect brand
On the redesigned floors, the difference from the old is dramatic.   Nearly all the internal walls have been removed, allowing natural light to flow through the spaces. Clusters of panel-based workstations from Herman Miller were set up by VDTA in three custom configurations: the engineering workstations have more privacy and are separated by whiteboards; general administration has more desk space; and the collaborative version is arrayed in groups of four, with a table in the center for impromptu powwows.

The desks are arranged to accommodate teams of 20 to 40 people; each grouping is classified as a neighborhood and has a variety of open collaboration areas as well as conference rooms that feature writeable walls and integrated A/V equipment to communicate with Adobe’s distributed workforce. Floor density has increased by more than 50 percent—135 people are on the floor, instead of 80—while energy use has decreased by 50 percent. The remodel has garnered LEED-CI Platinum certification.

In creating this open environment, VDTA was careful not to push the staff’s comfort level too far. “We interviewed all of the stakeholders, and a true benching system, where everyone sits together at long tables, didn’t make sense here,” says Antonio Caliz, design director of VDTA’s Palo Alto office. “I’ve seen situations in which companies implemented a redesign that wasn’t connected to its culture, and it turned out to be a failure.”

The previously generic spaces now embody the brand through 
a clean, white backdrop punctuated by such cheerful colors as apple green, lemon yellow, and tangerine orange. Walls serve as galleries for artwork from the annual Adobe Design Achievement Awards. VDTA also created custom environmental graphics: Oversize letters in Adobe fonts identify each conference room (Helvetica, Hollywood, and so forth). Introducing a residential feel, engineered pine paneling warms up the spaces, and break areas feature cozy booths and kitchenettes that wouldn’t be out of place in a city loft.

In addition to the San Jose headquarters, VDTA has since worked on Adobe offices in San Francisco, New York, and even Australia.     While the firm has not designed all 85 Adobe offices worldwide, VDTA's work is definitely part of the new foundation. “The response has been really positive,” Kline says, describing the VDTA interiors. “People tell me that they love having more of a community with their team. Our employees cross all generations and cultures, so it’s really important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable.”

Adobe Global Headquarters

  • Architect: Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
  • Client: Adobe
  • Where: San Jose, California
  • What: 15,000-square-foot Customer Experience Center; 25,000-square-foot 12th floor; 50,000-square-foot executive offices on two floors
  • Cost/sf $85

Key Design Highlights

  • Extensive use of engineered pine wood paneling and screens made from recycled doors introduce a warm, residential feel within the office towers.
  • The new Customer Experience Center features a wall with LCD screens displaying customer 
logos and an area that 
showcases Adobe software 
running on computers and 
wireless equipment.
  • Executive floors have the same open layout as staff floors; low-walled workstations are arranged in neighborhoods and complemented with casual 
seating areas.
  • Brand is infused into the spaces through custom environmental graphics featuring the company’s signature fonts.

 


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