The Next Generation

TPG Architecture designs a new headquarter's for the Conde Nast Entertainment division

by AnnMarie Martin

With such iconic magazine brands attached to its name like Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit, and Wired, Condé Nast is among the most (if not the most) powerful publishing houses in the world.

But you don’t surpass your 100th birthday in business by being afraid of change. So even though the proud history is built off the success of its various print titles, the organization formed Condé Nast Entertainment in 2011 to take its digital media offerings to a new level. The division creates original content on site with a studio and voiceover booth, and also established The Scene, a platform devoted to the best in digital video.

“They view themselves as an independent company. They are the future of where Condé Nast is going,” said Samantha McCormack, project designer with TPG Architecture, which designed a new three-floor, 83,000-square-foot home for CNE.

CNE wanted the interior to reflect this sentiment by standing apart from the Condé Nast mothership at 1 World Trade Center in New York City, where the design is clean, contemporary in black and white, and very polished, according to McCormack and fellow TPG team member Suzette Subance Ferrier, design director.

At 222 Broadway, the design team’s marching orders were clear: create an atmosphere similar to a tech startup in a San Francisco loft in order to attract the programmers CNE needed and the casual lifestyle those employees are accustomed to. “That combined with the fact that people are there 20 hours per day sometimes, we wanted to give them the amenities of home at work,” McCormack said.

Offering a wide variety of workspaces and meeting rooms to choose from achieved that, bridging the gaps between the different generations utilizing the space and their unique workstyles. The furniture specifications also elevated the aesthetic to a warmer, home-like atmosphere with brands like West Elm, Bernhardt, and Design Within Reach.

But it’s the technology program developed in conjunction with CMS AudioVisual consultants that takes comfort to the next level, thanks to the ease of use it affords occupants. TAMI (technology, advertising, media, information technology) work has become somewhat of a specialty for TPG, and is a growing market for the A&D community in NYC.

One could trip over any of the 16 televisions with Apple TV (providing access to current projects at CNE), while whiteboard and blackboard walls also encourage spontaneous creativity. “We worked really hard to unite the analog and digital collaborations,” said McCormack.

The team also needed to plan for future expansion. A high FTE (full-time employee) collaboration ratio was incorporated into the layout, so if it was necessary to remove certain open lounge areas due to growth, the project would still be within the 1:1 ratio. Every full-time employee has one “collaboration” seat, whether that’s in a café, booth, conference room, or open meeting area.

With so many design moves to implement, some might have judged there to be too many balls in the air. But not for McCormack and Ferrier, who were set at ease by what they described as a clear brief from the client. They suggest that the corporate market is breaking out of its shell and “wow spaces” are becoming more prevalent than not. “I think it’s exciting,” Ferrier said. “It pushes us to think about ways of working differently.”