City Redmond, WA
Size 1,556 sf
Team Primo Orpilla, Perry Stephney, Rita Bradley Sarah Dzubia, Olivia, David Hunter, Alfred Socias, Alex Bautista
Photographer Jeremy Bittermann
Microsoft’s Envisioning Center is a lab, and like labs everywhere, it makes use of forms and structures unique to its purpose. The design challenge here was to create a fluid, adaptable space in which a company dedicated to making the future brighter could audition emerging technologies in a plausible version of what an office 10 or 20 years from now will likely be.
The core of the Envisioning Center is the Next Generation Meeting Hexagon. Designed for advanced video conferencing, it allows multi-dimensional interaction between in-person participants, off-site participants and live tech info walls. Colored light cues indicate the status of the space—green for available, red for in use, blue for open and on display. The next step toward a conference room that reads its users’ needs and responds to them, the Hexagon again demonstrates how technology and physical space will increasingly work together to provide seamless services in the work environment.
Given the speed of change in the tech world, O+A believed a prototyping lab should be able to change shape as quickly as a prototyper changes focus. The stadium seating in this project builds that capacity for change into the Center’s infrastructure. These modular components may be reconfigured to meet the challenge of each new day, zeroing in, as necessary, on interactive walls, interactive desktops or the physical requirements of specific events.
If the brightness of this space and the playfulness inherent in some of its shapes suggest a school setting, that’s not an accident. “Activity landscape,” was the description adopted by both client and designer. O+A created an environment that encourages the unfettered thinking and passion for experimentation that animates a physics class or a team of project-oriented biologists. At Microsoft, it is understood that the future will be an amalgamation of all the sciences and arts—and that it will be (or anyway should be) a bright and playful activity landscape.