Created by architecture and interior design firm Blitz, Skype’s North American headquarters in Palo Alto, California, is a functional yet creative workplace designed to encourage interaction and spontaneity, as well as their specific acoustic requirements in support of their extensive use of audio visuals.
The project achieved LEED Silver certification and Blitz delivered on Skype’s challenge to create a world-class office that would differentiate them from their Bay Area competitors in the recruitment of talent.
The 54,000 square foot space features 16 ft ceilings and supports over 250 employees involved in high-tech development. Photographs below are courtesy of Blitz, and were shot by Matthew Millman and HoffmanChrisman respectively.
Skype implements Scrum development (iterative idea generation) and a philosophy called ‘Agile Thinking’ (the effect of environment on thought process). To support Scrum a variety of environments have been created that facilitate different interactions.
The concentration zones (workstation areas) are pushed to the building perimeter and benefit from natural light and lower noise levels. Collaboration zones (meeting rooms, coffee kiosks, white board areas) are centered along main access spines on each level which encourages staff to literally ‘meet in the middle’. Contemplation spaces are interspersed in the form of overlapping casual lounges.
Freestanding units (pods) offer acoustic privacy and access to A.V., containing meeting rooms and phone booths. Casual meeting nodes are created between and adjacent to the free-standing pods, providing points of arrival across the large floor plates and facilitating way-finding – especially critical given Skype’s international and transient workforce.
Mobile white boards (“skype-its”) are stationed throughout the space and provide multiple opportunities for informal team meetings or just random thought capture.