Expanding Boundaries with Highly Creative Workspaces

The Ted Moudis Associates design team met the challenges of budget and schedule with a light hearted, fun environment to support their client’s changing workplace strategy.

Mediabrands NYC office reception area. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

It is clear upon entering Mediabrands new workspace that this is “not your father’s office.” From the eye-popping use of color to non-traditional architectural elements it is clear that client and designer had a meeting of the minds to create a space that supported their brand and energize their employees while putting a different spin on what it means to go to work. How they worked together to meet the challenges of budget, aggressive schedule and implementation of a new workplace strategy shows that ingenuity can drive change with successful results.

What is the address of the project?
100 W. 33rd Street, Third Floor, New York, NY 10001

Who were the building architect and the interior architect/designers?
The building originally designed for the Gimbel’s department store by Emory Roth & Sons in and dates to 1910. Mediabrands retained Ted Moudis Associates for this project.

When was the project completed?
Mediabrands moved into their new space in March 2017.

Mediabrands NYC elevator area
Elevator Lobby at Mediabrands new offices in NYC. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

What is the total square footage?
Mediabrands is a full floor tenant and occupies 95,000 SF

What is the square footage per person?
250 RSF Seat

192 RSF User

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?
The facility can accommodate up to 494 users, with 380 workspaces and 205 alternative spaces for a total of 585 places to sit. Workseats are at a 1:1:3 ratio (1 seat for 1.3 persons)

What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?
Located adjacent to Manhattan’s Herald Square, there is immediate proximity to ample public transportation. Occupying the entire eastern half of the block bounded by 32nd and 33rd Streets between 6th and 7th Avenue, the vibrant Chelsea neighborhood is home to multiple shopping, dining, hotel and entertainment venues.

Tell us a little about the background of the project.

Ted Moudis Associates (TMA) had previously worked on several other projects for IPG Group. Having the previously developed partnership, enabled the team to move efficiently with a high level of trust once engaged to design a space that would facilitate the company’s move to a free-address alternate work style. Leased “as is,” the design team had immediate and unrestricted access to the premises throughout the design phase. Evaluating conditions early on gave the team the opportunity to assess necessary modifications to the space that would work with the design program. They could also analyze which architectural elements should remain and what could be eliminated to transform the space and organize it to fit the proposed concept of work zones to support an activity based workspace model.

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

Because of the time frame and budget, decisions on furniture played a key role in the project development and design scheme. Additionally, furniture solutions were used to define areas or work zones, where there were no existing architectural elements that could be used to define the space. The designers were also able to utilize readily available retail solutions (with delivery and installation coordinated by special arrangement with the lead contract furniture dealer). Examples include fur covered chairs and plush day beds, a gigantic floor lamp modeled on an architect’s desk lamp and an edgier wooden seat shaped like a hand.

Whimsical accent furniture us used to add interest. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

Contract furniture sources include: Office and Meeting Room Furniture, Knoll, General Seating, Izzy. Retail sources include the following suppliers: Reception furniture by Vibia, Meeting Room and Pantry furnished with products from Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, and CB2.

Is there a mobile work or work from home policy or are most of the employees there all day, every day?

Almost all the staff comes to work in the office every day. The Activity Based Working model enables them to be mobile at the office. Providing spaces that provide a multitude of work environments enables employees to pick and choose where to sit depending on what they need to do.

Mediabrands NYC floor plan
The open floor plan provides a multitude of work settings. Plan by Ted Moudis Associates.
Mediabrands whimsical furniture
A variety of unique furnishings serve to add definition and identity to each “neighborhood.” Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.
Mediabrands NYC
Open work areas are adjacent to cool break out spaces. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

How much of that space is unassigned?

The entire floor is 98% free address, although there are a few offices to support those needing a more enclosed environment. Mediabrands decided to move to an alternative work space environment and eliminate as many private offices and assigned work space as possible. Creating distinct work areas informed many of the design decisions and selection of creative elements that give the office its cool vibe yet functional layout. Lockers are interspersed throughout the space so that employees can have a spot to keep personal items.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the design?

The use of color was vital to use the space to deliver brand messaging as well providing a cost-effective solution for wayfinding, providing work space neighborhood identity and enhancing the existing architectural forms. Visitors immediately are drawn to the elevator lobby, and reception area with its bright wall painted the company’s bold signature yellow. Different yellow tones are used throughout the floor to delineate further specific work areas and amenity spaces. In the café the yellow was used to reinforce the branding, acting as a billboard and as a visual element to minimize the scale of the space.

Mediabrands NYC open office

Mediabrands signature yellow is used to define space and reinforce the brand message. Images courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

What are some of the unique features in the new space?

The challenges presented by the budget and necessity to use as much of the existing space also offered the opportunity to use fun finishes, lighting, and non-traditional furniture elements. Strategic use of wall coverings, carpet, tile, paint, and graphics further gave the design team more tools to push the creative limits and turned visually busy and spatially inefficient, static space into a playful and dynamic work environment.

In the reception area, the introduction of an interesting mix of alternative materials used includes faux fur cladding on the existing reception desk and a highly textured rope accent wall.

Mediabrands NYC specialty finishes

Specialty finishes give the reception area a creative new look. Images courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

A great example of this transformation is one of the enclosed work areas dubbed “The Salon.” The white on white color palette features a collection of chandeliers, flooring, and furniture, offset by the black and white wall covering featuring ancient Roman inspired figurative statuary. Decorative accents include creatively upholstered vintage style lounge chairs and desk chairs with feathery cushions. The overall effect is one of an ethereal far away place and time.

Mediabrands Salon
“The Salon” is an oasis of calm. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

Faux boxwood material is used to create a hedge to define the perimeter of one side of the café, frame “windows” into enclosed meeting rooms that were already in place as part of the previous build out and define the arched entry to the pantry.

Mediabrands NYC hedge walkway

Mediabrand Hedge Wall
Faux boxwood material is used to define separation of key work spaces. Images courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

Conference rooms were given individual identities in each zone. The Red Zone features a red carpet paired with a black and white floor to ceiling graphic of shelving filled with books and other decorative objects. Other conference rooms include another that features a Jackson Pollack inspired flooring applied to one of the walls. There are also other conference rooms that have a black and white theme utilizing graphics, props, and lighting to create a different look and feel for each location.

Mediabrands Red Zone Conf Rm
The Red Zone large conference room. Images courtesy of Garrett Rowland.
The Jackson Pollock inspired conference room. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.
Mediabrands NYC b&w conf room
A dramatic black and white themed conference room. Image courtesy of Garrett Rowland.

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

Moving to a free address environment did cause consternation among some employees.

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

We are in the process of conducting post-occupancy surveys, so it remains to be seen how the new space has been received from a larger perspective. The TMA team is confident, (based on anecdotal feedback), that the new space has proven to be a very positive experience for most employees.

Ted Moudis Associates Project Team:

Team Principal: Mitchell Ross

Design Director: Jeff Knoll

Team Leader: Gary Wolzak

Senior Project Architect: Gloria Cardenas

Project Designer: Liza Martins

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