Designing with Jet-i-tude
Long Island City, NY
JetBlue has a reputation as an egalitarian brand, which is quite unusual when you consider the conventional business behind cultivating an environment of exclusivity around flying. But, then, there is nothing conventional about the self-appointed “value airline” and its mission to “bring humanity back to air travel.” HLW worked closely with JetBlue to create a new home, a headquarters facility consistent with the company’s core business philosophy and practices. Through extensive employee interviewing, visioning sessions, focus group discussions, and more, we learned what it means to strike an ideal balance between cost, value and quality—in other words, to have Jet-i-tude.
HLW’s partnership with JetBlue began with a multi-state site study, with the primary objective of consolidating into one location offices in Forest Hills, NY, and Darien, CT. The highly collaborative process led to a deep understanding of the client’s culture, sensibilities and priorities—a journey that culminated in the creation of a new 200,000 sf, three-story headquarters in Long Island City, NY.
Value Engineering JetBlue Style
When entering the new headquarters, staff members and visitors pass through a vibrant blue, backlit LED portal. The curvilinear forms are reminiscent of the aerodynamic curve of an aircraft. Two open staircases, each three stories tall, provide a strong internal connection between groups on different floors. Two sleek towers, evocative of airplane wings, transect the middle of each stair. Backlit resin panels extend the full height of the three-story space and include an inset of fourteen ultra slim, bezel plasma screens, a dramatic, multimedia display with up-to-date twitter feeds and company news. Large scale graphics and distraction banding highlight the airline’s five core values: safety, caring, integrity, fun and passion.
One of JetBlue’s primary concerns was the lack of visible identity associated with their previous facilities. We were given the clear directive to create a welcoming workspace where JetBlue brand values are apparent from the moment one walks into the building.
“The physical space needed to embody both the company’s intriguing history and hopeful future,” said Louise Sharp, Principal at HLW International and the project’s Senior Designer. “This translated into a strong emphasis on making connections between airline operations and administrative spaces.”
Following our client’s lead, HLW perceived a number of unconventional ways to accomplish this through visual branding, technology, and the configuration of space, which also supported the consolidation strategy.
Value Driven Consolidation Approach
By combining modularity with fewer sizes and varieties of workspace types, HLW ensured that “crewmember” moves can be managed with greater efficiency. This approach also delivered a 30-35% increase in seat/head counts over the previous facility. Individuals sit wherever they can be most productive. The final design pays homage to JetBlue’s culture of egalitarianism, for the predominantly open plan and collaborative workplaces are tributes to the single-class cabin found on all JetBlue aircraft. The design also encourages a “work anywhere” mentality. The rich variety of spaces now available to JetBlue’s employees makes this possible. Employees feel right at home.
The majority of conference and meeting spaces are no longer dedicated to a particular department or group, but, rather, accessible to all crewmembers, to reserve or use when needed. The new plan represents a significant reduction in private offices to just 11% of the usable square footage. We increased the number of meeting rooms for 4-8 people and focus rooms for 1-2 people, in addition to delivering a wider variety of meeting spaces then previously available.
“This design strategy ensured that JetBlue could meet its stated project objectives of increasing face-to-face communication among employees and providing a team-based work environment,” said Susan Boyle, Managing Partner of HLW International. “At the end of the day, it was about breaking down silos between employees and between staff and management.”
Smart Planning, Smooth Launch
During the post-occupancy phase, HLW assisted crewmembers in implementing a change management plan and in acclimating to their new workplace. By employing a balanced approach to space requirements and institutional needs, HLW successfully integrated design with JetBlue’s organizational strategy. Helping JetBlue employees to understand this was critical for the project’s success. The company’s brand values are present, but we used them in conjunction with JetBlue’s business drivers for improved communications and increased productivity.
HLW provided the following services: Strategic Planning, Programming, Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, and Lighting.