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Design for Collaboration

At the new San Francisco headquarters of world-class architecture-and-design firm Gensler, there are circulation systems (the reception area, pathways, corridors), and there are work spaces (offices, workstations, desks). And, by design, they are the same spaces. “We asked ourselves what kind of place would make us a higher-performing organization,” says CEO Ed Friedrichs. “What will distinguish this as a great working environment over time is the fact that the circulation spaces are literally working spaces.”

Halls and corridors were carefully crafted to facilitate accidental meetings between colleagues — and then supported to allow for accidents to turn into work: Café tables and sofas dot major circulation routes, and individual workstations are situated near a team “front porch” common area, where projects can be moved off of an individual’s desk and into a shared space. Even the reception area is collaboration friendly: A massive slab of wood flanked by several straight-backed aluminum chairs serves as the company’s welcome mat — and a site for impromptu meetings. “The space is about getting people to communicate and interact,” says Gensler’s Collin Burry, who led the design effort. “Architecture shouldn’t get in the way of people doing their job.”

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