The Gensler-designed headquarters of graphic card maker NVIDIA is in every essence an example of innovation. The headquarters in Santa Clara, California, breaks away from the typical office buildings seen in Silicon Valley. This building keeps in mind NVIDIA’s principles of innovation. Its design enhances collaboration and interaction among the staff. The roof, consisting of many small and one larger triangular skylight, allows natural light into the building. The translucent skylights allow controlled light, while the large one is above the atrium.
Gensler planned the building in a way to maximize productivity. In every way, it is functional and aesthetically pleasing using a minimalist colour scheme that is timeless and efficient. Most of the interiors finished in whites with black highlights reflect the light coming through the many skylights in the building’s undulating roof. Dotted throughout are wooden furniture elements and a splash of colour here and there.
The project consists of two buildings, the first of which is called the ‘Endeavor’ completed in 2018 and the second, called the ‘Voyager’ is underway. As for the concept, the building has a triangular form. The triangle is a shape NVIDIA says is ‘the fundamental building block of computer graphics’. The design concept envisioned using NVIDIA’s software, Iray, was used by Gensler for simulation. The software offers near real-time renders and was also used to calculate the amount of sunlight entering the building through the skylights planned.
The main element of the building is its arched envelope and its triangular layout. Due to restricted building height as per zoning norms, the building was planned to be consisting of two stories with additional basement parking. What makes it striking is the way Gensler achieved the play of heights by creating vaulted spaces with the upper storey – which is more of a mezzanine floor – housing open offices, lounges and other meeting spaces. Gensler’s triangular theme is seen throughout the design – from the layout to interior details.
The building has two basements for parking. A lift core connects the basements to the upper levels. As the building is only two-storied, there are large platforms instead of general staircases, acting as interaction spaces for the staff. Common areas such as the cafeteria, the pantry and the restrooms are planned in the central part of the building, making it a large interaction space. The offices, labs, meeting rooms etc. are planned according to the glass façade. Rigorously used spaces such as the open offices are located slightly away from the facade to protect them from the heat gain while spaces such as the meeting areas are on the outer side according to the solar orientation.
The staircase is the main interaction space for the staff. The staircase is designed to have overly large landings which make up informal meeting spaces while connecting the floors and making them seem like one. The large stair treads make bleacher-style seating allowing small groups to gather. Located in the core of the building, the staircase also connects to other interaction spaces.
The steel structure of the building is left exposed in most places. Gensler has used black metal panels for the core anchoring the structure. The core houses the elevators and the staircases for vertical circulation. Having a structural core and a triangular roof allows a longer span which is unhindered by structural elements. This, in turn, gives way for open-plan offices and other interior spaces. To create double-height areas, the upper floor is cut in many places. The whole building looks like one large unit because of the giant canopy roof of the building.
Apart from the use of RCC and steel for structural components, Gensler has also used perforated metal panels for the roof and as railing for staircases. The black metal panels are in contrast with the white RCC walls and also the white structural steel members. The use of white colour on the inside of the roof makes the place seem larger, brighter and inviting.
Coming to the interiors of the building, the undulating roof creates a series of spaces which are in some places of low height, housing more intimate spaces such as research labs and coding spaces, or large halls which are the offices and other interactive spaces. The central part is opaque and houses the research spaces.
Gensler’s design philosophy for this project was to create a building, which, in every way, speaks of the core belief of NVIDIA – ‘the people are the greatest asset’. The triangle shape in itself defines the work of the graphic card company while the design realizes the same. Analysis of daylight and thermal comfort determined the use and placement of the skylights and the glass façade to create a healthy and comfortable workplace. This building is unlike the headquarters of other Silicon giants. It is more inward-looking rather than attempting to connect to the outdoors.
- Interior Design (2019). Nvidia Campus by Gensler: 2018 Best of Year Winner for Large Tech Office [online]. (Last updated 18 January 2019)
Available at Nvidia Campus by Gensler: 2018 Best of Year Winner for Large Tech Office – Interior Design
- The Architect’s Newspaper (2019). Gensler’s NVIDIA headquarters opens, with a super-roof that lets the outside in [online]. (Last updated 30 April 2018)
Available at Gensler’s NVIDIA headquarters opens, featuring a super-roof that lets the outside in (archpaper.com)