Edie Cohen | May 01, 2013
Founded in 2000 to develop marketing and advertising for mobile phones, Velti is hardly a startup. But it certainly resembled one—with ad hoc offices spread all over San Francisco. Until AECOM stepped in, that is, to consolidate all 140 employees at a headquarters with a panoramic bay view.
Unbelievably, a previous tenant had blocked that stunning view with internal
walls. So AECOM principal Michelle Ives Ratkovich gutted the 38,000-square-foot floor plate. Before reaching any other decisions, however, her team and the firm’s Strategy Plus consultancy set up focus groups. “Velti was figuring itself out. We helped figure out its built environment,” she notes.
Among the top focus-group requests: no private offices. Each of the four main departments—executive, finance, marketing, product—therefore became an open zone roughly anchored to a corner of the floor plate. Workstations generally align perpendicular to the nearest window wall.
Delineated by canopies, meeting spaces offer different degrees of enclosure, depending on the position of glass folding panels. The boardroom, for example, can open almost entirely to reception. The front of the training room folds away, although its other sides are fixed. One, a vinyl graphic on glass, illustrates an old-school phone book opened to the yellow pages.
In response to another focus-group request, a place for coffee, a break-out area with stadium seating and oversize ottomans got key placement, next to reception. On the other side of the reception desk is a kind of mobile-phone museum. Images of phones from decades past appear on an acrylic drum table, encircled by benches, while videos of company news are projected on the interior of a giant cylinder suspended overhead. Wrapping the cylinder’s exterior, perforated sheet aluminum depicts a world map, with orange dots calling out Velti’s 32 global offices.
Of course, since this is a tech company, there has to be a rec room. Velti’s is a tavern. It comes complete with pressed-tin ceiling panels, air-hockey and foosball tables, and a refrigerator stocked with beer.
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