At the New York Stock Exchange, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill brings method to the madness
Anne Guiney -- Interior Design, 12/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
The New York Stock Exchange—with its jostling, bellowing throngs of flushed traders—is a study in humanity at its most primitive. Commissioned to expand the trading floor, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill design partner Stephen Apking and associate partner Donald Holt borrowed a page from Margaret Mead and treated the traders like anthropological subjects. "After observing the way they move in incredible physical proximity to one another and the way they use different technologies, from phones and stock tickers to computers, we could overlay the issues onto a design," explains Apking.
Those issues distinguish SOM's trading floor from its frantic forebear. Work posts for specific industries accommodate more than one trader and feature pivoting flat-screen monitors mounted on a metal framework. Different kinds of information are packaged for easy viewing. General market levels, for example, are centralized on one huge screen above the main corridor, whereas company stats show up on "nine-packs" of flat-screen monitors canted above workstations. Because the technology that powers the exchange has to be accessible for servicing after the opening bell—a failure could be catastrophic—SOM elevated cables and hardware in vertical banks reached via a mezzanine. One thing couldn't change: the famous din. "Traders use the noise level to judge the markets," explains Holt. "If it's too quiet, they get nervous."