Contract - Off Campus: CollinsWoerman Designs New Microsoft Corp. Headquarters

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Off Campus: CollinsWoerman Designs New Microsoft Corp. Headquarters

01 May, 2010

-By Danine Alati



In 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Micro-Soft (as it was then called) in a tiny office in Albuquerque, N.M. But now global software giant Microsoft has exploded to offices in 105 countries, including its newest office at the Bravern, a mixed-use complex in downtown Bellevue, Wash. Seeking to branch out from its main campus in Redmond, Wash., the computer technology corporation commissioned Seattle-based design firm CollinsWoerman to complete the interiors of 740,000 sq. ft. of leased space in two buildings at the Bravern.

Microsoft is the primary commercial tenant in the Bravern, which features a super high-end retail component anchored by Neiman Marcus with the likes of Jimmy Choo, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Anthropologie, along with dining options including an enoteca, a steakhouse with a piano bar, and a brasserie/wine bar. Health and fitness facilities and luxe condominium residences round out
the two towers.

Formerly the Microsoft development manager, Puget Sound region, and currently senior real estate and facility manager, U.S. West region, Southwest district, Madalyn Rustagi explains, “We had a high-level need for additional office space to accommodate the growth of our organization and a desire to expand our presence in Bellevue. The Bravern made sense for its urban/mixed use, convenient downtown location, with access to transit. It offers a great mix of amenities both within the retail complex and in the surrounding neighborhood.”

The main concept behind the new office, says CollinsWoerman designer Stephanie de Villa, was “shifting expectations,” breaking away from the “Mothership” in Redmond, and getting employees excited about moving to a more urban setting. “We were tasked with creating a new identity for Microsoft in the two towers, and we developed a language based on connections—of employees to the main campus, to each other, and to the world,” de Villa continues. “We did so by selecting four international cities in which Microsoft has a strong presence and basing the palette on characteristics and architectural elements from those cities.”

Inspired by Beijing, Paris, Hyderabad, India, and New York, CollinsWoerman devised four palettes that rotate every four floors in both buildings—up to floor 13 in building one and floor 23 in building two. “We took inspiration from the energy of these four cities, without going over the top—there’s nothing obvious like a Buddha,” de Villa says. Themes and references are subtle. An earthy, natural palette punctuated with jewel tones reflects Hyderabad, while the Beijing levels feature Asian red and rich woods. The pops of yellow that add punch to the refined palette on New York floors reference taxicabs, while the Paris floors exude sophistication with a highly textural palette.

CollinsWoerman collaborated with the Microsoft branding team to incorporate the appropriate color, lighting, and architectural elements to accurately reflect the company and maintain consistency throughout all the levels, regardless of the theme of the floor. Since the office is spread across two buildings, there are two of everything—lobbies, cafes, espresso bars—and the floor layouts and designs are consistent to facilitate wayfinding. There are several breakout areas, and one “hub” on every level features a larger lounge area with a full kitchen and meeting space. Private offices line the perimeter, but their glass fronts allow natural light to reach the workspaces and teaming areas on the interior. “The overarching goal of the project was to design the workplace to enable business by offering choice in work environment (private office, open teaming area, etc).” Rustagi notes. “We wanted to create a workplace that would inspire our people.”

While the corporate floors in the Bravern are well-suited for Microsoft’s Online Service Business (OSB) that ultimately moved in, the designers were challenged to create an appropriate transition from the street-level retail component to the corporate spaces. The lobbies act as transition zones, with the palpable energy from the high-end retail venues carrying through the entrance to the office portion.
“You can feel the energy right away,” de Villa notes, adding that this is part of what Microsoft loved about this location. The end users concur. “Employees appreciate that they can eat at the corporate café or go down to a restaurant or run errands or hit the gym during their lunch break,” de Villa says. Based on post-occupancy evaluations, users have responded well to the urban experience and confirm that the connections created by CollinsWoerman’s design solution have proved to be highly effective.


who
Client: Microsoft. Architect/interior designer: CollinsWoerman. Structural engineer: DCI Engineers. Mechanical engineer: Holaday – Parks. Electrical engineer: Cocharan & Coffman Engineers. General contractor: Howard S. Wright. Lighting designer: Pivotal. Photographer: Lara Swimmer.

what
Carpet: Shaw Contract Group. Ceramic tile: Fap Ceramiche, Everstone Mosaic tile: Oceanside Glass. Paint: Benjamin Moore. Solid surface: Zodiaq, Avonite. Wood: Brookside Veeers, Teregren, Arbor Series, Treefrog. Laminate: Pionite, Wilsonart. Glass: Peter David, Pulp Studio, Carvart.
Paint: Benjamin Moore. Lighting: Itre USA, Edison Price, Lightolier ,Viso, dForm, 2 Thousand Degrees, Delray Lighting, Vistosi, Studio Design Italia. Reception room furniture: Aceray, Magnus Olesen. Café furniture: Bernhardt, Allermuir, Design Within Reach, Steelcase, Herman Miller. Breakout/lounge furniture: Meyer | Wells & Design Within Reach, Bernhardt & Allermuir, Dune Contract, Segis, Knoll. Resilient Flooring: Permagrain. Upholstery: Luna Textiles & Architex, Maharam, Paul Brayton, Brentano. Walls panels: 3Form. Wallcovering: Wolf-Gordon, Designtex
Furniture systems: KI.

where
Location: Bellevue, WA. Total floor area: 750,000 sq. ft. in 2 office towers. No. of floors: 13 (tower 1), 23 (tower 2). Average floor size: 23,000 sq. ft. Total staff size: 2,400.



Off Campus: CollinsWoerman Designs New Microsoft Corp. Headquarters

01 May, 2010


Lara Swimmer

In 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Micro-Soft (as it was then called) in a tiny office in Albuquerque, N.M. But now global software giant Microsoft has exploded to offices in 105 countries, including its newest office at the Bravern, a mixed-use complex in downtown Bellevue, Wash. Seeking to branch out from its main campus in Redmond, Wash., the computer technology corporation commissioned Seattle-based design firm CollinsWoerman to complete the interiors of 740,000 sq. ft. of leased space in two buildings at the Bravern.

Microsoft is the primary commercial tenant in the Bravern, which features a super high-end retail component anchored by Neiman Marcus with the likes of Jimmy Choo, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Anthropologie, along with dining options including an enoteca, a steakhouse with a piano bar, and a brasserie/wine bar. Health and fitness facilities and luxe condominium residences round out
the two towers.

Formerly the Microsoft development manager, Puget Sound region, and currently senior real estate and facility manager, U.S. West region, Southwest district, Madalyn Rustagi explains, “We had a high-level need for additional office space to accommodate the growth of our organization and a desire to expand our presence in Bellevue. The Bravern made sense for its urban/mixed use, convenient downtown location, with access to transit. It offers a great mix of amenities both within the retail complex and in the surrounding neighborhood.”

The main concept behind the new office, says CollinsWoerman designer Stephanie de Villa, was “shifting expectations,” breaking away from the “Mothership” in Redmond, and getting employees excited about moving to a more urban setting. “We were tasked with creating a new identity for Microsoft in the two towers, and we developed a language based on connections—of employees to the main campus, to each other, and to the world,” de Villa continues. “We did so by selecting four international cities in which Microsoft has a strong presence and basing the palette on characteristics and architectural elements from those cities.”

Inspired by Beijing, Paris, Hyderabad, India, and New York, CollinsWoerman devised four palettes that rotate every four floors in both buildings—up to floor 13 in building one and floor 23 in building two. “We took inspiration from the energy of these four cities, without going over the top—there’s nothing obvious like a Buddha,” de Villa says. Themes and references are subtle. An earthy, natural palette punctuated with jewel tones reflects Hyderabad, while the Beijing levels feature Asian red and rich woods. The pops of yellow that add punch to the refined palette on New York floors reference taxicabs, while the Paris floors exude sophistication with a highly textural palette.

CollinsWoerman collaborated with the Microsoft branding team to incorporate the appropriate color, lighting, and architectural elements to accurately reflect the company and maintain consistency throughout all the levels, regardless of the theme of the floor. Since the office is spread across two buildings, there are two of everything—lobbies, cafes, espresso bars—and the floor layouts and designs are consistent to facilitate wayfinding. There are several breakout areas, and one “hub” on every level features a larger lounge area with a full kitchen and meeting space. Private offices line the perimeter, but their glass fronts allow natural light to reach the workspaces and teaming areas on the interior. “The overarching goal of the project was to design the workplace to enable business by offering choice in work environment (private office, open teaming area, etc).” Rustagi notes. “We wanted to create a workplace that would inspire our people.”

While the corporate floors in the Bravern are well-suited for Microsoft’s Online Service Business (OSB) that ultimately moved in, the designers were challenged to create an appropriate transition from the street-level retail component to the corporate spaces. The lobbies act as transition zones, with the palpable energy from the high-end retail venues carrying through the entrance to the office portion.
“You can feel the energy right away,” de Villa notes, adding that this is part of what Microsoft loved about this location. The end users concur. “Employees appreciate that they can eat at the corporate café or go down to a restaurant or run errands or hit the gym during their lunch break,” de Villa says. Based on post-occupancy evaluations, users have responded well to the urban experience and confirm that the connections created by CollinsWoerman’s design solution have proved to be highly effective.


who
Client: Microsoft. Architect/interior designer: CollinsWoerman. Structural engineer: DCI Engineers. Mechanical engineer: Holaday – Parks. Electrical engineer: Cocharan & Coffman Engineers. General contractor: Howard S. Wright. Lighting designer: Pivotal. Photographer: Lara Swimmer.

what
Carpet: Shaw Contract Group. Ceramic tile: Fap Ceramiche, Everstone Mosaic tile: Oceanside Glass. Paint: Benjamin Moore. Solid surface: Zodiaq, Avonite. Wood: Brookside Veeers, Teregren, Arbor Series, Treefrog. Laminate: Pionite, Wilsonart. Glass: Peter David, Pulp Studio, Carvart.
Paint: Benjamin Moore. Lighting: Itre USA, Edison Price, Lightolier ,Viso, dForm, 2 Thousand Degrees, Delray Lighting, Vistosi, Studio Design Italia. Reception room furniture: Aceray, Magnus Olesen. Café furniture: Bernhardt, Allermuir, Design Within Reach, Steelcase, Herman Miller. Breakout/lounge furniture: Meyer | Wells & Design Within Reach, Bernhardt & Allermuir, Dune Contract, Segis, Knoll. Resilient Flooring: Permagrain. Upholstery: Luna Textiles & Architex, Maharam, Paul Brayton, Brentano. Walls panels: 3Form. Wallcovering: Wolf-Gordon, Designtex
Furniture systems: KI.

where
Location: Bellevue, WA. Total floor area: 750,000 sq. ft. in 2 office towers. No. of floors: 13 (tower 1), 23 (tower 2). Average floor size: 23,000 sq. ft. Total staff size: 2,400.
 


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