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Raising a Glass

TSC Design celebrates modern workplace trends and a new office culture for Heineken’s NYC headquarters.

By AnnMarie Martin

TSC Design celebrates modern workplace trends and a new office culture for Heineken’s NYC headquarters.


Heineken USA and Heineken Americas both know the importance of not letting the past dictate who you are, but letting it be a part of who you will become. So when New York-based TSC Design sent over a pitch for the design of its consolidated NYC offices that included images of TSC staff holding up Heineken bottles and was signed "your future customers," the company must have known the potential synergy was off the charts.

Heineken was not only merging a number of area offices into a singular location, but also wanted to move away from the more traditional corporate interior with enclosed offices and toward an open plan environment.

"Companies today need to do be more efficient with smaller spaces, and an open environment helps," says Anthony Simon, design director and senior associate at TSC. Jennifer Hirsch, a fellow designer on the project, agrees.

"I think that's the way corporate has seemed to go," she says. "People are moving toward more flexible work. They can work from home or drop in at the office. Everything isn't as permanent as it used to be, so they need more flexible spaces and group environments where it's more collaborative for when employees are in the office."

The company was keenly interested in pursuing that new philosophy, and wanted to foster creativity and innovation amongst its staff with a more transparent environment. And while leaders at Heineken had their hearts

set on a big, lofty downtown space, they needed a locale that was more centralized to accommodate the company's variety of commuters. With staff comfort in mind, they decided on a midtown location instead.

In order to provide them with that "loft feel" in a midtown office building, TSC did a number of things, one being to celebrate the ceiling. "We really wanted to make it open and airy, so we exposed most of the ceiling on each side, both Heineken Americas and Heineken USA. They're separated by a central bar, over which we dropped the ceiling just enough to accommodate the HVAC, and created an array of light troughs so the ceiling has more dynamic movement to it." All ceiling paint colors as well as the office furniture are of a lighter color, and great views allow for individual workstations to benefit from a good amount of daylight.

The more collaborative environment thrives off of unique common areas, as well as many spaces that are conducive to impromptu meetings, particularly the office's two "star lounges." With one sporting a 47th and Park Avenue view, and the other looking out onto 46th and Lexington Avenue, they allow for casual yet stimulating meetings that don't require a reservation. A large training room can be divided up for smaller, more intimate sessions. Conference rooms are softened with more rounded features.

"They didn't want rigid walls," says Simon. "We introduced a lot of curved elements, so as people come in it creates a natural flow that leads you into the space. They're all glass, as they really didn't want frosted or shaded areas that you couldn't see into."

The conference rooms are also a prime example of how TSC paid homage to Heineken not just as a beverage company, but as the international lifestyle brand it has evolved into. Each room gives a nod to the origin of one of the multiple brands under the Heineken umbrella, such as Dos Equis and Amstel. For Dos Equis, a custom table image zooms in on the pattern of a Mexican poncho in an abstract way, thanks to the TSC graphics department, which was heavily involved in the design. Working with the Heineken creative marketing team, they sourced imagery for a consumer branding area that features columns shrouded in a number of vintage print ads. TSC also recognized the brand's extensive history with a timeline located in the promenade near the training room.

"It's inspired by a subway map, and we used key milestones and important dates throughout Heineken's history," Simon explains. Another unique element is the "mock cooler" bank of glass refrigerators utilized for visual marketing presentations. It's a sales tool that allows the team to see how their ideas would actually look out in the market.

The Heineken bottle and signature star are seen in more ways than one throughout the space, as the team transformed them into architectural elements. "We did a lot of graphic testing with [the star] in fragmenting it—not in an obvious direction, but in a subtle and abstract and more artistic way," says Simon. That concept can be seen in features like the lighting elements above the bar area, which change colors and include customized setting capabilities.

Taking up approximately one-fifth of the 38,000-square-foot project, the bar divides the office into Heineken USA and Heineken Americas sides. "They wanted to celebrate it more, not only in a beverage aspect, but for impromptu meetings, social interaction and client events. They wanted to treat it as a true gathering place," Simon says. The columns feature "modern hatched artwork patterns," using the bottles of the multiple brands, also courtesy of the TSC graphics department.

And from pop art to the real thing, the lobby and elevator banks offer up a huge wow factor in the form of 3,000 bottles, all cut by a millworker and embedded in crystallized acrylic panels backlit with LEDs.

"We had fun with the public areas, and then when you come out of those you enter more clean and open environments," says Simon.

"I think because the two [Heineken Americas and Heineken USA] are divided by the bar, we relied heavily on being creative in the central parts to draw both sides there. They were concerned that the division would reserve people to their sides, so we wanted to draw them out to the bar as a calming, inviting gathering space."

And who wouldn't want to grab a drink with coworkers after a long, exhausting week, especially when you don't even have to leave the office? Talk about the workplace of the future.


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heineken usa/heineken americas
245 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10167


TSC Design
275 Seventh Ave., 19th Fl.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 213-4595

Anthony Simon, design director

Ira Sanchick, project architect

Nelson Chew, project architect

Jennifer Hirsch, designer

Jacqueline Magliato, designer

Sam Ko, renderer


general contractor
MDA General Contractors

MG Engineering

a/v consultant
Linear Technologies

Adrian Wilson