The design for the new workplace of Sid Lee (formerly Hornall Anderson) embraces a raw grittiness suitable to this branding firm’s creative work and culture. Finding their staff fragmented and opportunities for creative cross-pollination minimal in their former office, the agency desired a new workspace that better supported their collective working style and firm identity. Balancing an elemental, unfinished materiality with a more refined expression, the workplace reflects the fluid creativity that the firm brings to their brand experience design.
Located in a 1920s building in Seattle’s downtown core, the workplace integrates new architectural insertions with original building elements to create raw compositions that juxtapose past and present. Starting with the entry sequence, the design dissolves traditional workplace spatial boundaries: rather than a formal reception area, visitors walk in and immediately encounter employees working and collaborating in breakout spaces. This space functions as the company’s all-hands meeting area, and doubles as special event space for conferences, parties and stand-up meetings. From here, sightlines lead to a letterpress studio housing their 100-year-old printing press – a key signifier of their culture of thinkers and makers working at the intersection of heritage and innovation.
The central space is surrounded by small-group meeting spaces and a pivot wall with inset digital monitors that can animate the space during events. This understated “lobby” is the heart of the office, drawing focus to a long community table that serves multiple functions. The kinetic table lifts to the ceiling to become a central lighting fixture, opening the space for larger gatherings and acting as a metaphor for the firm’s commitment to transformation and dynamic experimentation.
For this office, we wanted to create a raw space with an element of thoughtful grittiness. This unfinished yet refined space can support the type of open‑ended creative work happening within.Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA