This Ad Agency Revived a Tobacco Processing Plant

Wanting its new offices in Winston-Salem, N.C.’s Wake Forest Innovation Quarter to be both flexible and inspirational, ad agency MullenLowe turned to TPG Architecture, who had successfully designed the agency’s Boston headquarters.

The reception area is adjacent to an existing open atrium. Image courtesy of TPG Architecture.

When they set out to find a new office space, MullenLowe decided on a 1930s tobacco processing plant with 14-foot ceilings and metal frame windows, which informed the final design of dark grey and metal finishes and floods of natural light.

“The design concept was to respect and celebrate the existing structure, leaving the walls and ceiling untouched by using floating free forms — rectangular boxes built between the columns–to create space within the space,” according to TPG.

Scroll to read our project profile Q&A.

The open work environment and common areas allow for more accidental collisions and natural collaborations. Image courtesy of TPG Architecture.

When was the project completed?

January 2016

What is the total square footage?

37,500 square feet

What is the square footage per person?

207 square feet per person

The staff works in multiple disciplines for diverse clientele so their space had to be flexible and inspirational. Image courtesy of TPG Architecture.

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?


What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

It’s a few blocks from public transportation, restaurants, and other attractions.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? Please touch upon any notable products, how they were used, and if they solved a specific problem.

We used Herman Miller many of our chairs including Scissor chairs and Eames soft pad chairs in the reception area, Eames plastic side chairs in the café and meeting rooms, and Aeron chairs at the work stations. We also used Knoll’s Antenna for benching and Bernhardt Design Oslo chairs in the living rooms. In the café, there are custom banquettes featuring Chilewich fabrics. The conference tables are by Prismatique, the breakout areas feature custom tables by Hive Mind Design, and the booths pair with tables by West Coast Industries. Maharam fabrics are used everywhere.

The young, creative agency has both the requisite pool and ping pong tables. Image courtesy of TPG Architecture.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

The collaborative, team spaces are all unassigned; however, all stationary workstations are assigned on a one-on-one ratio, staff-to-desk.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

All of that beautiful raw space! A re-purposed century-old tobacco processing plant was such an unusual asset that the design concept was developed to feature it.

The design team divided the raw space into functional neighborhoods providing myriad open and inspiring creative environments. Image courtesy of TPG Architecture.

If the company moved out of a previous space, what was the hardest aspect of change for people?

The staff was very excited about the move!

Please share any illuminating, surprising, or hoped-for results you might have gleaned from post-occupancy surveys.

Although no formal post-occupancy surveys were completed, on follow-up visits to the site it was thrilling to see all the various collaboration spaces being used as intended and feeling the overall buzz in the office space.

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