Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
FCB Chicago in Illinois by TPG Architecture
April 23rd, 2017 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: TPG Architecture
FCB Chicago, the largest agency within the Foote, Cone & Belding global network, recently relocated to the iconic John Hancock Center. The new office’s modern and comfortable design clearly expresses the spirit, culture and direction of this advertising/marketing powerhouse.
TPG Architecture of New York designed the 5-floor, 170,000 square feet office collaboratively, working closely with the FCB Chicago team that included CEO and President Michael Fassnacht, Chief Creative Officer Todd Tilford, and members of the agency’s Human Resources, IT, Real Estate and Facilities departments. The agency’s space went from 12 floors of compartmentalized offices in its prior location to five floors of expansive, open workspaces designed to encourage collaboration across the agency’s multiple departments and disciplines. By committing to a few overall design themes, the space reflects FCB’s 21st century forward thinking and creative culture.
To accommodate a higher level of collaboration and cross-pollination across teams, TPG worked with FCB to design a series of “white spaces” and “black spaces” – core work areas. These are open, free-flowing, neutral areas that are physically flexible and functionally open-ended. Each one of these collaboration spaces (five total) includes advanced technology, upholstered seating, magnetic walls that also serve as whiteboards, counter tables, breakaway conference rooms and pantries. The flexible design of the spaces serves as a backdrop to facilitate discussion and support brainstorming sessions.
The open concept similarly transcends to employee workspaces. The agency’s previous space housed employees in individual offices less accommodating to collaboration and ongoing discussion. Agency leaders chose open desk stations for everyone in the company, from the CEO down (with exceptions for HR and finance heads). The new space has proven that when people are free from walls and borders, restraints and ceilings, ideas of all shapes and sizes are born and grow with greater speed.
Architecturally, TPG opened a two-story space at reception, a somewhat bold move in an iconic mid-century skyscraper. This exposes a 25-foot-high column, reinforcing the soaring ceiling and adding drama to the experience of entering the space. Everything the architects did, after that structural moment, respects the building, which is International Style; the furniture is contemporary but comfortable, classically modern with low lines and neutral tones. The design “exposes more structure and adds warm, natural, organic materials such as wood-tone MDF on the individual desks, exposed concrete floors, exposed ceilings, and reclaimed wood in all the collaborative areas.
Additional meeting areas include 45 team rooms that accommodate 4 to 6 people; 25 midsize and small conference rooms for informal meetings; and a large boardroom with a breakaway area and garage doors that can open and close to separate the spaces. Most of the conference rooms provide expansive views of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.
The office also includes a movie theater, fittingly named “The Biograph,” after the famous historic Chicago movie house. The room features wood panels and podlike gray chairs, consistent with the overall feel of the office.
Another element of the design is a staffed, fully operational coffee bar at the reception area. With full-time baristas, the coffee bar is a memorable amenity for clients, potential clients, employees and others who visit the office. All drinks are $1.00 and proceeds go to various charities chosen by the agency.
While not commissioned to do so, TPG says the entire project was done to LEED standards, “shadowing” best practices.
As the oldest advertising agency in Chicago, and the newest since its rebranding in 2014, FCB Chicago’s cutting-edge space showcases its commitment to creativity and collaboration, further enabling it to create the big, transformative ideas that drive behavior change to the benefit of its clients, its people and society.
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