07 Apr 2021 • Work
Perkins&Will frames its New York studio as an agile 'learning laboratory'
The space reflects the team’s mission to build an office that's hyper-responsive to changing work models and technologies.
Global architecture and design firm Perkins&Will has a new home in the Big Apple – a workspace built for ultimate flexibility. The team refers to it as its ‘learning laboratory’: although the design process began pre-COVID, interior design director Brent Capron and his colleagues had already shifted their focus to more agile in-studio working and places to foster connection. The result, in their eyes, is ‘resilient design in real-time’ – a hub to experiment with evolving models of work and technologies as they emerge. ‘The gradual return to the office presents a rare opportunity to pilot elements of our new studio as we collectively navigate what the hybrid work model will look like for us,’ explains Bill Harris, managing director of Perkins&Will’s New York studio. ‘Our design vision was anchored in an acknowledgment of constant change in the way we work, the way we socialize and the role technology plays in our lives.’
Located in New York’s NoMAD neighbourhood, the head office is situated in a double-height space originally intended for retail. The designers took advantage of this – the storefront-style windows not only allow passers-by to get a feel for Perkins&Will’s culture but connect staff with the urban environment. Unassigned workspaces are aimed at encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, while open and closed meeting rooms can host myriad functions like brainstorming sessions and VR demonstrations. Technology plays an important role at the office: AV systems with birds-eye-view cameras enable real-time collaboration in meetings, drawing sessions and cross-office broadcasting. The idea is to support hybrid and remote working.
What’s more, sensors in each room measure light, sound, temperature and humidity, used in combination with clean airflow systems. To ensure that its staff truly feels comfortable coming back to work, Perkins&Will developed a ‘Return-to-Studio’ smartphone app which allows employees to record and schedule their in-person office presence, helping to reduce density. It additionally surveys staff for COVID symptoms before entering the office.