Reworking the Workplace: New Attitudes in Office Design

Reworking the Workplace: New Attitudes in Office Design

Original presentation by Liz Burow as part of the AIA panel on Office Design/Workplace Strategy, September 29th, at the Knoll Showroom, 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY. Moderated by Susan Szenasy, editor, Metropolis Magazine.

In an era where everyone is asking, “What does an innovative workplace look like?” it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find exceptional examples that truly break the mold. YouTube Space NY is one of these exceptions.

On the surface, you could say that YouTube Space NY is a workplace and learning space for entrepreneurs. Upon closer examination, we can see that this space takes on more of the attitude of a non-traditional workplace. YouTube Space NY is also a maker space, an event space, a workshop space, a retail space.

For YouTube, the space serves many business functions but, ultimately, it serves as a community center for its core users: the Creators. For the HLW design team, this project offered the unique and exciting challenge of designing a workplace like no other.

What if a tech company opened a film school—and tuition was free?

Through our Discovery process, we learned about the client’s visionary goals and programmatic needs, as well as about what a typical day looks like for YouTube creators, YouTube employees, and Google guests. We observed that the new facility is a “space mash-up” serving distinct groups and varied activities in many different ways.

YouTube Space NY serves two end-users: YouTube creators and the Google BrandLab team. Creators and advertisers share the space while feeding off of each other’s energy to create a truly collaborative environment. This space, similar to co-working spaces, shifts from an attitude of ownership to membership. The space and services offered are used by the Creator community as a resource, to be shared, rather than owned.

The project involved layers of programmatic complexity and the typical space constraints associated with designing and building in NYC. (In this case, we were restricted to a mere 20,000 sf.) We designed each space to have multiple functions. While all areas have the potential to be film space, individual areas have additional functions, such as for editing, collaborating, meeting, and hosting events. The end result is a highly technical space—as well as a place supportive of people engaged in the act of making, creating, and collaborating.

Overall, the YouTube Space NY design is about attracting and retaining talent and customers, which is consistent with a core business principle of the YouTube brand. The new facility is ultimately a community space for creators. Here, these innovators have a place to congregate, learn, and be inspired by each other. Significantly, these are the same ingredients found in many of today’s most innovative workplaces.

HLW International Director of Strategy and Discovery Liz Burow writes about the importance of providing spaces for deep thinking, collaboration and connecting in learning environments.