West of West

West of West

Portland, OR


Next Workplace

West of West has designed a new workplace envisioned as a cultural destination composed of resilient spaces dedicated to working together.

The current global pandemic has rapidly changed how and where people work. The new modes of working confront the assumptions made within pre-pandemic office space and challenge the economic hyper-density of the open plan. This new world presents us with new questions: How do we design a more equitable and flexible workplace for the future? How can it be resilient when faced with unknown economic, environmental, and social change? How does that workplace support the culture of the people within it? The future demands flexible strategies that leverage new spatial and technological ideas to form, and support, different ways of working. West of West has proposed a new approach to workplace design that seeks to tackle these challenges.

Located in Los Angeles, the project occupies an existing 10,000 square foot building spread across a single level. The flat, low-density warehouse-to-creative office typology is indicative of many offices in many cities, and serves as the project’s context. West of West’s proposal moves past minor short-term COVID updates to office space--removing seating, marking 6’ distances on the floor--and instead approaches the problem more broadly. Their hybrid strategy includes challenging conventions in building programming, analyzing spatial use over time, studying the role of physical and mental health, and embracing the demand for flexibility. 

The project is a flagship space for company events, meetings, and group collaboration while individual work remains at home. The entry is through a large sheltered plaza inserted within the existing building and serves as a transition from the outside world, a focal point, and the largest flexible space for meetings and events. Multiple doors are located off the plaza for access to the interior. Inside, a variety of conference spaces, lounges, and meeting areas are arranged in a loose grid broken up by narrow, tall glass-walled open-air interior gardens. These hidden landscapes blur the experience of interior versus exterior space, increasing visibility and connection across the plan while flooding the interior with natural light and ventilation.

In the future flexibility will be critical. Large areas of open desks have been completely removed from the plan--the space for individual work is at home--and re-appropriated to versatile zones built for collaboration. New semi-enclosed working spaces are housed within glass volumes inserted throughout the plan, bordered by interior gardens and large expanses of operable doors, creating layers of transparency, connection, and visual depth throughout the space. More broadly, West of West believes workplace culture can be enhanced by a greater connection to the natural world and has designed spaces that enable and support these experiences.

Material choices enhance physical and mental health now more than ever. Polished concrete, Venetian plaster, anodized aluminum, and white oak walls are paired with minimal furniture from Danish brands like Frama and Hay, architectural lighting by Flos, and custom work tables designed by West of West.

By creating an environment different from what employees experience at home the workplace is transformed into a destination, a resilient collage of flexible spaces that can be used in new ways both now and into the future.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US
Firm Role: Architect