Established in the year 1935, the firm was founded by Lawrence B. Perkins and Philip Will Jr on the common grounds that design has an important role to play in society; it has the power to positively influence the lives of people and uplift communities. The firm believes in creating spaces that respond to the environment as well as the welfare of people.
Ranked as one of the world’s top architecture firms, it has 24 studios across the world, each dealing with varied practices at a local, regional or global scale. The firm is known for its innovative research, people-centric approach, and sustainability measures.
Guide to the key principles of their practice:
- Sustainability: An outlook with various approaches highlighting high-performance systems, energy efficiency, healthy building materials hence encouraging designs that are symbiotic to the environment.
- Design excellence: Creating healthier and prosperous built environments with quality of life as their utmost priority.
- Resilience: Designing places that not just sustain but thrive in the face of disruptions.
- Diversity and inclusion: Promoting diversity in design to create an equitable, just and inclusive world.
- Social purpose: Addressing social needs of the community through various programmes and projects, thereby placing humanity above all.
- Living Design: Exploring the ecological realm where biodiversity flourishes and human life thrives, thus creating a holistically healthy environment.
- Well-being: A comprehensive design where the users are connected to the physical environment physically as well as spiritually leading to an enhanced user experience.
With over 1600 professionals from different parts of the world, working with the same core values and the aim to create a better world to live, work, heal and learn, one might wonder how the workspaces of one of the largest firms in the world look like;
Here is an insight into three of their architectural studios:
1. Chicago Studio- Headquarter
Designed to foster creativity and teamwork, the Chicago office occupies the top floors of the historic Wrigley building and is associated with the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. The design process of the studio evolved with the employees’ input and needs thus, making the design user-centric.
A multi-floor design with various workspace options encourages movement and interaction amongst the employees. Materiality and active design form a part of their greater design programme where a healthy living environment is a primary goal.
A noteworthy feature of the design is the 18th-floor lounge area, called “The Cloud”, which takes inspiration from the iconic clouds painted inside the Wrigley building’s cupola. It is a vibrant informal space that serves as an open café thus, encouraging social as well as work-related collaboration.
The office is a reflection of the firm’s legacy and culture, where the people are the heart of the design.
2. New York Studio
An innovative approach to workspaces, the new New York studio is an example of pure visualization and experimentation in designing work environments that stimulate as well as nurture growth and collaboration.
The studio functions as a perceptive and active space, designed adaptively to accommodate the changing needs of the users.
The design challenges the typical functioning of an office and embraces the “new normal” by introducing spaces that retain human connection through permeability and simultaneously provide isolated spaces for more focused work. Certain workspaces are left unassigned to promote interdisciplinary interaction.
Apart from this, the studio has explored the use of state-of-art IT/AV infrastructure that not only helps in design thinking but also improves productivity. Digital screens that display the design process, bird’s eye view cameras, strategically planned wiring, pave the way for a new learning experience.
The main design aspect of the studio is resilience and flexibility, which allows the spaces to adapt to different situations, thus retaining the key values of a workspace; community, work and life.
3. Austin Studio
Located at a vibrant mixed-use destination in the heart of East Austin, the design of the studio is inspired by the Austin street art culture. The studio is a reflection of the firm’s ideologies where people, context, relationships and experience are central to the design of the workspace.
The entire office, right from the point you enter, narrates a story and engages the users in the process of exploration and innovation. A series of vignettes, colours, textures induce a fresh perspective and a distinct aesthetic into the workspace.
As a representation of unified practices and diverse cultures, the columns are painted with pop colours that also define the different work zones. Keeping the colour accents low to the floor, helps aid inspiration while maintaining a neutral palette for visualization of ongoing projects.
An icon of the firm’s new visual identity, the studio successfully integrates its core principles into the design while retaining the dynamic character of Austin city. It is a celebration of warmth, health, life and culture, thus revolving around the firm’s commitment to a people-centred design approach.