Projects

Microsoft

Building 4 is one of the oldest on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus—it once held Bill Gates’s private office. But in 2011, when Microsoft hired O+A to remake the space, the orientation was distinctly eyes forward.  Microsoft maintains a division of planners whose job it is to anticipate how offices will work and what they will look like in the next 15 years. Their workspace is a lab for workspace development. These “futurists” occupy Building 4.

Building 4 is one of the oldest on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus—it once held Bill Gates’s private office. But in 2011, when Microsoft hired O+A to remake the space, the orientation was distinctly eyes forward.  Microsoft maintains a division of planners whose job it is to anticipate how offices will work and what they will look like in the next 15 years. Their workspace is a lab for workspace development. These “futurists” occupy Building 4.

  • City Redmond, WA

  • Year 2011

  • Size 59,000 sq ft

  • Team Primo Orpilla, Verda Alexander, Perry Stephney, Denise Cherry, Elizabeth Guerrero, Albert Claxton, Emily Ellis, Alfred Socias, Justin Ackerman

  • Photographer Jasper Sanidad

X Marks the Spot

O+A’s challenge was to make Building 4 a prototype of the work being done there. The first step was to move Microsoft’s employees out of 10×10 offices into more collaborative and creatively stimulating spaces. The unusual X-shaped footprint of the office offered space planning challenges—but also opportunities to make of common areas an interactive crossroads for departments that might not otherwise mingle.

Another Part of the Forest

The cafeteria offers a prime example. An expansive space with wide pathways and natural light, the meeting area is configured to host all-hands gatherings without losing the warmth of a cozy lunch for two. The natural environment outside makes whatever is happening in the cafeteria appear to be happening in the clearing of a forest.

Global and Local

Another of O+A’s design goals was to give the new office a regional texture referencing not only its lushly wooded setting, but its long history of involvement in the life and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Finishes alternate between hardwood surfaces and lumberjack (or is it grunge?) plaid fabrics. Bike racks encourage green transportation while doubling as sculpture. Some of the lighting fixtures suggest a lighthouse aesthetic.

Eyes Forward

This is what the workplace of the future will be. As the communication revolution which Microsoft helped launch 30 years ago matures, every wooded grove will be a potential financial center, every office will function as both workplace and play-space, every action will have public and private reverberations. We will all be futurists.

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