Uber’s Interactive Lobby Space By HUSH Displays The Power of Art And Design

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Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

“The Stream” at Uber’s HQ is an interactive light display and lobby space designed to positively impact employee morale.

In 2018, Uber set out to create a new, global Mission Bay headquarters to house its growing workforce and unite teams under one roof. Experience design firm, HUSH was brought in to design a permanent, vision-setting experience on campus to focus every employee, guest, and partner on the impact of Uber’s effort and align them with the company’s organizational mission. To begin, HUSH worked closely with Uber’s Brand, Real Estate, HR and Technology teams to outline a core strategic design vision and key storytelling points. The shared goal was to bring the mission of Uber, “To ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion” to life through an interesting aesthetic experience powered by creative technologies and innovative structures that were seamlessly integrated into the architecture of the space.

Through strategy development and planning, HUSH curated and introduced a narrative journey that encouraged employees to move from seeing their individual place in the company to envisioning their role as part of a larger, global, and interconnected network. These ideas manifested physically as The Stream, an interactive design which translates Uber’s activities and data points into beams of light in motion, flowing from high up within the building, assembling into new forms, and ultimately becoming motivating stories of impact. As a multimodal installation, The Stream is able to convey these stories of motion through artistic, typographic, and even documentary modes; all being customizable and powered by local mobility information and global platform data.

When was the project completed? 

Project was officially unveiled in November 2021

How is the space changing/adapting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

As the world experiences immense change following the consequences of the global pandemic, workplaces all over the world are in a position to adapt their settings to provide employees with new experiences, tools and strategies that bolster productivity and inspire the work to continue moving forward into the future. Thousands of employees working across various sectors within Uber will–post pandemic–enter through the halls of Mission Bay every day. Given the ongoing circumstances of the pandemic, HUSH spent time thinking about how this installation would take on greater meaning as employees returned to the office from their work from home set ups for the first time.

HUSH refined their work to underscore the importance of connection and togetherness, reflecting the hardships that each individual part of the company had endured due to the past year’s social isolation. From there, HUSH programmed, designed and delivered both physical and digital experiences of The Stream at Uber’s Mission Bay headquarters in San Francisco. Hush worked diligently to ensure the lobby was equipped with dynamic motion-based storytelling as well as with bespoke lighting, sound, and interactive content so each mode of the experience was able to be tailored to colleagues, special guests, or specific messaging. By doing this, HUSH helped Uber express its core brand story as well as foreground its most important relationships with its customers and drivers. 

Any other information or project metrics?

Since The Stream has been installed, hundreds of visitors to the building have seen the technology and content. As HUSH continues their work with Uber to scale the technology around the globe, the team is excited to watch as more and more workplaces are impacted. HUSH’s ability to leverage design elements of The Stream and adapt them to a number of different locations and cultures is a testament to how design elements in the workplace are shaping the future of work.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

Located in Uber’s global headquarters in Mission Bay, San Francisco, The Stream translates Uber’s activities into beams of light in motion, flowing from high up within the building, assembling into new forms, and communicating motivating stories of impact.

In order to do this, 2200 LED strips were engineered and integrated into acrylic tubes, all of which flow seamlessly through the lobby atrium descending from the upper floors, across the ceiling to a central point of focus. This seamless integration with the architecture was specially tailored to ensure support and maintenance through the lifetime of the equipment as well as ensure that power from a central source reached all of the 2200 LEDs. Because there are limitations on the number of LEDs a single power source can supply, the architect worked to build a uniquely new equipment room and distribution system, specific to this installation, in order to secure power for each LED strip.

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space? 

As HUSH’s work in the workplace continues to evolve and expand, they operate with the ethos that businesses can motivate people around a shared goal. They believe digital experiences can maximize inspiration, connect people through these goals, and even incentivize employees to come into the office to explore and collaborate together. All businesses want to empower their employees to be part of their community. The scale of physical workplaces allow experience design agencies to use creative technologies as a forward-thinking tool to bring people together–an incredibly important feat, after these past two years of isolation. 

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

As HUSH expanded their work across industries, one finding that has stayed consistent is that data is THE ingredient of the modern brand. For global organizations, their relationship to data often defines their business model and the way their business evolves is directly related to and influenced by the change in its data. Therefore, data is an authentic and important brand storytelling tool. Unlike many other experience design firms that focus strictly on creating captivating experiences that end up being disconnected and short lived, HUSH integrates smart design into their UX by leveraging a brand’s unique data and information. HUSH then translate these complex data sets into simple, beautiful, and impactful experiences that catalyze action, motivate and inspire audiences. By utilizing familiar data, these experiences feel truer to the brand story and unite people together through their shared connections.

To make this project unique to Uber, HUSH brainstormed clever ways to connect the content and physical structure of The Stream with the company. The installation comprises six experience modes–stories, places, kinetics, cities, super graphics, and geometries– which enliven Uber’s key stories through generative visuals that continuously pull visitors deeper into the MB2 lobby space. An example of this can be seen in the places stream which highlight the areas around the world where Uber operates and the people that make this possible. This template is best used to showcase Uber products and services in action and takes us from a wide view to an intimate story in three easy beats.

What is the most unique feature of the space?

The Stream installation within the lobby space

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

Office design and high-tech art can make a difference to employees, says David Schwarz, co-founder of HUSH Studios. “I think employees will look at this and say, ‘My company invested in my happiness and my inspiration,’ ” says Schwarz.

Who else contributed significantly to this project? 

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.
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