Perkins and Will Drive Conversation and Culture in Viacom’s NYC HQ

Viacom’s mission to create entertainment experiences that drive conversation and culture comes to life in their three-floor NYC office space. 

The Perkins and Will workplace design team helped to instill Viacom’s mission within their new build-out of 97,000 square feet of space in their global headquarters, 1515 Broadway in Manhattan. This comprised three full floors housing two enterprise groups that support multiple international Viacom Media Brands.

Viacom’s mission is to

…create entertainment experiences that drive conversation and culture.

And they took this principle and applied it to their employee’s workspaces with creative collaboration at the core. We pulled influences from iconic NYC loft spaces and worked with Viacom’s design standards to create a space that celebrated their brands as well as embraced the exterior views.

Lounge-inspired break-out areas continue the residential loft feel. The spaces provide seating options to support multiple types of collaboration giving variety and choice to the community within. Neon wayfinding adds an entertaining pop of color supporting Viacom’s branding and welcomes guests and employees to an elegant pantry designed to encourage creative collisions throughout the day. The design evokes a lifestyle of creativity which allows the layering-on of multiple brand expressions for the diverse groups that support various Viacom brands.

When was the project completed?

2019

How much space?

+/- 75,000 RSF

Was this new or renovated space?

New build-out

SF per person?

185 SF person

How many employees?

400

What is the average daily population?

400

Describe workspace types.

Open workstations with low partitions connect colleagues to one another and provide a sense of privacy and place. There are a lounge-inspired break out area and seating options to support multiple types of collaboration giving variety and choice to the working community.

What kind of meeting spaces are provided?

This space provides closed conference areas with clear glass fronts, as well as smaller intimate rooms where you can take a phone call in privacy.

What other kinds of support or amenity spaces are provided?

While not part of our specific project, Viacom’s headquarters has various support and amenity spaces within the building: fresh garden terrace with vegetables and greenery, fitness/wellness center, yoga studio, creative studio, and onsite nutritionist.

Has the project achieved any special certifications?

This project has not achieved any special certifications; however, Viacom’s design standards require that their spaces are designed to LEED Silver standards.

What are the project’s location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?

This office is in Times Square and approximately one block from the Times Square 42nd Street subway station. This station provides access to more than 14 different subway lines, as well as transportation to both LaGuardia and JFK airport.

Was the “C” Suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?

Viacom’s “C” suite was not involved with the project planning and design process, however there was an executive team consisting of Ellen Albert, Executive Vice President of Real Estate, Yetta Banks (no longer with the firm), Vice President of Design and Construction, and Frank Murphy, Director of Planning and Design, who were responsible for coordinating with department heads to ensure that their needs were effectively portrayed to our design team.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used?

The Viacom executive team worked directly with department heads, end-users, and subsequently translated their needs to our team.

Were any pre-planning surveys conducted to get employee input?

We made multiple presentations to employees alongside the Viacom executive team. These presentations allowed staff to be aware of what was happening and when. Additionally, we held an event where the staff could vote on cityscapes and other graphics they wanted to see around the office. There were also competitions that allowed winners to be included in the opening day events.

Since this initial Viacom project, we have since been engaged in various pre-planning efforts for future projects.

Were any change management initiatives employed?

Change management initiatives were wrapped in with the presentations we gave to employees. These presentations allowed staff to be aware of what was happening and when, as well as give them a voice to discuss concerns or questions.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

Given the buildings’ prime location, Viacom wanted built spaces to be closer to the building’s core. This enables maximum lighting and near 360-degree views along the edge of the building.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

Viacom has a multitude of networks under its umbrella, so the office was branded to give off a feeling of creativity versus the identity of one network. We incorporated logos of all Viacom’s networks throughout, as well as wall coverings that emulated networks’ characters or messages.

Our workplace design team gathered influence from iconic Soho-style NYC loft spaces, which typically give off an eclectic creative vibe. The first two floors drew inspiration from a Soho-style loft when structures built at the turn of the century supporting manufacturing were converted into living and working spaces. The third floor references a Flatiron district style loft where Gilded Age skyscrapers have been converted to modern-day co-working and media workspaces.

What is the most unique feature of the new space?

The new space is unique, given how many different identities live within it. There are quirky hand-doodled skylines across full glass windows showing cityscapes around the world; neon wayfinding and signage lights illuminate the halls; exposed ceiling without ceiling grid, allowing the space to feel larger; and the views from almost every vantage point.

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?

Within the space we designed, we provided mothers rooms with comfortable ergonomic furniture; all workspaces are furnished with residential-style furniture to provide a relaxing and familiar atmosphere; soft club chairs in the phone room so people can take calls comfortably; and extended seating in pantry areas to encourage collaboration.

While not part of our specific project, Viacom’s headquarters has various amenities for wellness: fresh garden terrace with vegetables and greenery, fitness/wellness center, yoga studio, creative studio, and onsite nutritionist.

How did the company communicate the changes and moves?

We made multiple presentations to employees alongside the Viacom executive team. These presentations allowed staff to be aware of what was happening and when.

Tell us more!

Mechanical Engineer: AMA
Electrical Engineer: AMA
General Contractor: Benchmark
Lighting Designer: One Lux
Staging: McFarlane Designs
Instagram: @perkinswill_ny
Twitter: @perkinswill_NY


Photography courtesy of Perkins and Will

Photo Credited to Eric Laignel

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