Gensler Seattle recently partnered with T-Mobile US on a multi-building campus master plan renovation project that spans 1,450,000 sq. ft. of the Un-Carrier's headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. The goal was to celebrate the company's unique brand and culture, focusing on recruiting top talent and employee retention in a competitive job market. Gensler's designers leveraged data from the Gensler Workplace Performance Index (WPI) survey, interviews, workshops, and analysis to inform campus navigation, programming, space planning decisions, and brand experience - allowing the team to strategize and design to reflect T-Mobile's unique, customer-obsessed culture that focuses on delivering for consumers and businesses in new and innovative ways.
"Upon the onset of COVID-19, T-Mobile's renovations were already well underway," commented Susana Covarrubias, Design Principal and Studio Director at Gensler Seattle. "As we all learned to work differently within new set parameters, T-Mobile was ahead of the curve in creating a future-proof environment for its employees. Scaled-down 'neighborhoods' broken out into project rooms, open collaboration spaces, co-working areas, focus rooms, and workstations that allow for an activity-based work environment replaced the excess of large meeting rooms and crops of cubicles."
Once complete, this bold renovation plan will extend across much of the five-building headquarters, touching nearly one million sq. ft. of office space and all exterior building connections and public areas. This includes the main entry pavilion and reception area, employee workspaces, executive floor, two-floor amenity space, and new skybridges for an all-connected and inclusive campus. Each space is infused with integrated brand moments - and no shortage of magenta - that enhance a sense of comradery and pride.
Space to come together
As many businesses are shifting into more of a hybrid work model post-pandemic, companies are redefining their workplaces with increased emphasis placed on what kind of spaces will bring people to campus for creative collaboration, camaraderie, social interaction, and togetherness. Amenities will play a key role in how we come together socially, offering more choice and a more engaging environment than ever before.
T-Mobile's most recently renovated 144,995 sq. ft. 'Building Two' encompasses a network of significant and unique interior tenant improvements - a complementary and expansive exterior deck with breathtaking views ensconcing the amenity space, two new connecting sky bridges, and an ongoing plaza reinvention just outside the front door. Building Two's amply appointed and vibrant amenity floors make up a newly renovated 46,815 sq. ft. heart of the campus where T-Mobile teams can congregate, while providing ample space to spread out. Employees are greeted by six diverse dining kiosks, a restored vintage Airstream serving frozen yogurt, a Starbucks, a pub, and a bar prepped for happy hour. These two amenities floors are connected by a new, 1,000 sq. ft. grand staircase, which doubles as amphitheater seating for all-hands meetings. Colorfully furnished and inviting sky bridges provide ease of mobility between the buildings and serve as welcoming spaces to connect with others, while weaving all the buildings together through an 'amenity street.'
Bringing the outdoors in
The new design incorporates a much sought-after feature for post-pandemic spaces - outdoor accessibility. While some of the space was already terraced with large outdoor areas prior to the redesign, these spaces were often inaccessible and neglected. Gensler, together with T-Mobile, recognized the potential of the beautiful Pacific Northwest and used the connection to the outdoors as the design influence for the building interiors. Outdoor elements such as wood, custom planters for greenery, and natural textures were woven into the workplace. The design team moved all built elements away from the perimeter to provide more exposure to natural light. This indoor/outdoor connection creates a calming environment for collaboration and creativity and a healthy space to gather amidst fresh air. A 4,405 sq. ft. exterior deck provides outdoor amenity space with covered and uncovered seating, outdoor games, work pods, and a glass sound barrier to deflect noise from the freeway.
Situated above Building Two's amenities levels are three stories of bold and agile workspaces that provide an adaptive and collaborative gathering area. Several meeting and huddle rooms are interspersed with impromptu teaming benches, brainstorming walls spaced along the walking paths, and lighting rods drawing conversations into the communal space and away from desking shelters. The executive suite, a floor above, is a flexible and egalitarian showcase of T-Mobile's Un-carrier culture. Offices are spare and open with an expansive and intimate board room complete with natural yet dignified soffit accents and finishes. Additionally, accessibility design was a priority in the renovation project across campus. T-Mobile's buildings will be connected by a designated route with accessible features such as new curb cuts and improved sidewalks and the central plaza was designed to create an inclusive environment for outdoor gatherings and casual business interactions with both stairs and a low slope path connecting buildings. This renovation also reflects T-Mobile's commitments to sustainability through the pursuit of LEED, WELL, and Fitwel certification.
Photography: Heywood Chan, Courtesy of Gensler