Jacobs Corporate Headquarters

This new corporate headquarters occupies four and a half floors in an existing building. The client wanted to create an open workplace environment to reduce hierarchy and increase visibility, communication, collaboration and mentoring opportunities. As a company that employs a staff of 65,000 worldwide and has a real estate footprint of more than 4 million square feet around the globe, creating effective standards to accommodate the work styles of various business units, types of working professionals and cultural and geographic settings has a significant impact on productivity and operational costs for themself. Moreover, the design of the corporate headquarters sets both the principles as well as the aesthetic for their offices around the world. Department managers and principals were consulted about workflow and day-to-day activities. The overlay and integration of infrastructure and technology requirements also factored heavily into the development of the standards.

The design was a new and modern departure for the client. The overall effect was achieved through the creative and considered use of modest rather than lavish materials and a simple color palette. Sculpted sheetrock lends variety and interest to multifunction rooms on each floor. Blue glass was used as a primary design feature and is a consistent material used in client's other offices.

The reception area is centered on a primary view of the surrounding city and the magnificent city hall. From the test tubes set in a grid on the wall that accommodate fresh flowers to the “skylight” lighting over the seating group, the understated but refined space orients and greets visitors with a clear message of professionalism and a focus on the future.

Each floor offers an attractive coffee bar and kitchen which are designed with stools and a counter for serendipitous meetings. One of the heritage functions of a sitting room lounge also was maintained at the center of the executive floor and has commanding views of the nearby mountain range to the north.

Occupying half a floor, the training center brings employees and clients from around the world into headquarters throughout the year for specialized training and opportunities to learn from and engage with colleagues across business units. Unique features include custom designed lecterns and 30-foot-long suspended benches for ample seating in the pre-function area.

A challenging feature of the space was a ring of structural columns located in the middle of the lease space. To address this, the design team arranged workstations in the outer ring formed by the columns and located huddle, conference and quiet rooms in the inner ring around the building’s core. The mix of spaces supports different types of work that happen throughout the day. Room partitions of full-height glass were used to maximize visibility and extend day-lighting from the perimeter deep into the floor plates. The design team also turned the structural columns into a design and safety feature. Each column was encased in a floor-to-ceiling frosted glass box, and each box was lit from above to create glowing pillars that define the path to emergency exits, much like an exit path on an airplane.

A 26-week construction schedule that was shortened to 14 weeks challenged the design and construction team to work quickly and creatively. One key strategy shaved seven weeks off the schedule. Knowing that 20,000 square feet was the threshold for Tier 1 reviews for city approval, the design team submitted each floor plate (which was just under 20,000 SF) for individual approval, shortening the review time from eight weeks to one. A close and collaborative working relationship between the design team and contractor also helped the project hit the target date for substantial completion.

Several sustainability strategies were implemented in the project including sitting the office in an urban area with an existing infrastructure. The site is located in an established, walkable community (WalkScore 83) residing approximately 350 feet from a light rail station. A unique feature of the office design strategy was not to use any enclosed offices. This “open office” design strategy maximizes the daylight harvesting potential and takes advantage of the surrounding views. To control heat and glare, a fully automated window shade system is tied to a radiometer on the roof, adjusting the shades based on the sun’s angles throughout the day. An abundance of LED lighting, all of which is controlled by motion and photo sensors, also is integrated with the window shade system. Cradle-to-Cradle Certified workstations were specified for the office, and at least 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill during construction.

project in collaboration with Jacobs
photography by Hedrich Blessing