Microsoft
San Francisco, California

As a global leader in productivity technology, Microsoft looked to its new San Francisco office as a showroom for innovation and discovery. The 43,500 sf office space blends employee workspace with a customer-facing technology center to create a space that provides real-life demonstration of Microsoft products and services. Built using Microsoft’s Workplace Advantage global design guidelines, the new office seamlessly integrates mobile technology into the workplace to allow

people to work anyplace, anytime. Street front visibility and outward transparency of the interior space were key drivers in the design of the new office space. Located at 555 California in the historic Bank of America building, the office was the first tenant build-out of the second level since the building was constructed. The office floorplan takes advantage of views and uses Microsoft branding to create a first impression that is both inviting and instantly recognizable.

Roll over the photo to see the initial concept rendering.

The customer center is the focal point of the office, and the display of Microsoft’s brand and technologies informed its structure and organization. The design facilitates a completely mobile experience where technology both guides and drives the user experience of the space. Meeting spaces are organized into individual pavilions that communicate power and direction through their angular volumes; the apex of each pavilion directs visitors along the path of travel.

The orientation of each pavilion is harmoniously parallel to the unique sawtoothed footprint of the building to allow for maximum daylighting within all interior spaces. Carved spaces on the exterior of the pavilions create clear wayfinding while also providing small breakout spaces for impromptu meetings or private employee focus space. Areas between the pavilions incorporate diverse furniture pieces to provide a variety of workspaces.

Carved entrances and glazing in the pavilions reveal the brand through back-painted glass in Microsoft colors.

By convening a showroom of technology with day-to-day work, the distinction between built space and technology blurs. Microsoft products become the vehicle for how individuals move through the space.

Suspended ceiling panel sails glow in Microsoft brand colors as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the iconic “flying windows” screen savers that defined most consumers’ first experiences with the brand. The sails also lead visitors to an interactive second-story brand landing in the middle of the office’s internal staircase. There, a growing digital moss wall

responds to movement using Microsoft’s Kinect technology that displays California poppies and monarch butterflies when people pass by. Actual living green walls are also included throughout the space, which offer a tactile contrast to the digital palette and natural points of respite for the human eye.

Reflective planes of back-painted glass reference the sleek touch screens of Microsoft’s products while also enhancing the quality of incoming light.

Roll over the photos to see an initial concept rendering.

The employee side creates a distinct contrast to the display areas through the use of lighter finishes and open, airy spaces. Linear workstation organization and a variety of informal workspaces and cafe-like seating promote an agile environment that empowers employees to work from anywhere while exemplifying the Workplace Advantage standards. The new office optimized the company’s real estate usage and downsized the square footage by 30% from their previous space. The staff transitioned out

of private offices into an open work plan to assist with optimization and facilitate more collaboration. As part of Microsoft’s ongoing research, the company found that employees were increasingly using workstations as “touchdown hubs” rather than the sole area of work. As a result, Blitz created break out areas and bookable open meeting spaces that provide complete flexibility for both quiet/focused and collaborative work.

Although an increasingly mobile workforce means employees do not have to be in the office to work, Microsoft wanted to encourage employees to come in to the office, noting the importance of the physical environment even as the definition of the workplace continues to evolve. Since work can be performed anywhere, the company sees the workplace as more of a “meeting space,” where

connections and relationships are forged at an eye-to-eye level. It was important to create an energizing space that would increase opportunities for collaboration. Finished with palette of softer colors, fabrics, and wood, the employee side brings in more natural light and creates a warm, people-centered environment.

 

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