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Galactic Shades: Oakley's Futuristic Headquarters

  • <p>Sunglasses maker Oakley’s Headquarters in Orange County, CA, projects a complex Blade Runner persona.</p>
  • <p>Juxtaposing austere architectural details with oddball visual accents evokes a wicked sense of play. That spirit infuses the Oakley campus: a zip line once ran from the top of a building to a water­filled ditch; in the back, a giant fire pit anchors a muddy tradition called Water Fest; despite repeated fines from the local homeowner’s association, a skull and cross­ bones often waves from the building’s flagpole.</p>
  • <p>Building designer Colin Baden (he’s now the company president) wanted to create a progressive look that left viewers asking: Was this built for people who lived a thousand years ago or for people living a thousand years in the future? The main atrium features foot­wide bolts.</p>
  • <p>Over-­the­-top product testing is part of the culture. This machine challenges the impact strength of lenses: A quarter-inch shot is fired from a pneumatic cannon at over 100 mph. In another impact test, a one­-pound spike is dropped more than 4 feet onto a lens. </p>
  • <p>The minimalist design of the area outside CEO Scott Olivet’s office feels like part interrogation room, part weapons cache. Just the right mood to keep visitors on their toes -- and employees smirking.</p>
  • <p>The Oakley faithful can tour the HQ, starting with an ear-splitting video in the 400-seat theater. Other attractions: a customer-service repair-and-warranty center (situated behind a blast door, of course), a retail store, and a museum that highlights the company’s product history -- including autographed shades worn by Lance Armstrong in his Tour de France victories.</p>
  • 01 /06

    Sunglasses maker Oakley’s Headquarters in Orange County, CA, projects a complex Blade Runner persona.

  • 02 /06

    Juxtaposing austere architectural details with oddball visual accents evokes a wicked sense of play. That spirit infuses the Oakley campus: a zip line once ran from the top of a building to a water­filled ditch; in the back, a giant fire pit anchors a muddy tradition called Water Fest; despite repeated fines from the local homeowner’s association, a skull and cross­ bones often waves from the building’s flagpole.

  • 03 /06

    Building designer Colin Baden (he’s now the company president) wanted to create a progressive look that left viewers asking: Was this built for people who lived a thousand years ago or for people living a thousand years in the future? The main atrium features foot­wide bolts.

  • 04 /06

    Over-­the­-top product testing is part of the culture. This machine challenges the impact strength of lenses: A quarter-inch shot is fired from a pneumatic cannon at over 100 mph. In another impact test, a one­-pound spike is dropped more than 4 feet onto a lens.

  • 05 /06

    The minimalist design of the area outside CEO Scott Olivet’s office feels like part interrogation room, part weapons cache. Just the right mood to keep visitors on their toes -- and employees smirking.

  • 06 /06

    The Oakley faithful can tour the HQ, starting with an ear-splitting video in the 400-seat theater. Other attractions: a customer-service repair-and-warranty center (situated behind a blast door, of course), a retail store, and a museum that highlights the company’s product history -- including autographed shades worn by Lance Armstrong in his Tour de France victories.

Sunglasses maker Oakley’s Headquarters in Orange County, CA, projects a complex Blade Runner persona.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.