Take A Tour Of LinkedIn’s Sunnyvale Production Center By Interdisciplinary Architecture

LinkedIn’s new Interdisciplinary Architecture-designed Sunnyvale Production Center is a creative studio for the post-covid era.

Interdisciplinary Architecture’s (IA) new studio for LinkedIn’s Media Productions team—part of LinkedIn’s Sunnyvale, California campus—is designed to foster creativity and support highly technical video production processes, all while keeping employees safe in the post-pandemic age. The design seamlessly blends workspaces for visioning, storyboarding, and workshopping with state-of-the-art studio environments, bringing creative and technical teams under one roof to streamline video-on-demand and live broadcast content production.

Project Overview:

The heart of the new studio is The Garage, a fresh take on the traditional meeting room that offers employees a place where they can think creatively and ideate freely. The design picks up on the West Coast tradition of great ideas being born in garages—think Apple and Microsoft—to offer a one-of-a-kind conference room. A giant bi-fold door opens into the polished concrete space, offering a refined update on the no-frills garage aesthetic. Inside, a long 16-by-4-foot break-out table on wheels brings employees together to discuss ideas, nail down storyboards, and push their vision further. With the garage door open, the table can be wheeled outside for open-air meetings that spark creativity. The moving table also supports anti-pandemic measures, allowing employees to meet safely outdoors during outbreaks.

Throughout the interiors, environmental graphics reference the history and science of filmmaking and audio-editing, imbuing the workspaces with a sense of craft and tradition. In one hallway, a lenticular graphic set for 24 frames per second at walking speed shows early moving pictures studies of the body in motion. Another shows a visualization of sound waves. The conference room names are all inspired by terms from film and editing history: there is the Blockbuster Room, Betacam Room, Technicolor Room, and the Muybridge Conference Room, named after Eadward Muybridge, pioneer of photographic motion studies best known for his animated images of a horse in gallop and early photographs of San Francisco and Yosemite.

Project Planning

Having designed a number of offices for LinkedIn for audio and video content production, my primary contact was the Director of Media Productions and the project manager on the Workplace team responsible for the project. IA also has mutually agreed upon a 250-page Production Standards Document that lays out the guidelines for these studios across the United States and other countries, matching LinkedIn’s standards and content quality.

Typical programming interviews were conducted as an addition to the Production Standards document, which already captured most of the requirements.

There are two aspects to this: acoustical, and broadcast. First, the architect commissioned a pre-construction base building acoustical evaluation. The project’s stringent acoustical standards necessitated specialized acoustical design and modelling for sound isolation, HVAC systems, and reverberation, which were provided by the acoustical consultant.  Post occupancy acoustical testing confirmed that the constructed project met the stringent acoustical standards. Second, the control room is capable of supporting live broadcast functions both locally and internationally, requiring a close collaboration between the architect and broadcast technology consultant and the coordination of significant broadcast technology and audio/video infrastructure and equipment.

Project Details & Products

To maintain safe working environments and support social distancing, movable furniture has been employed with room layouts that can accommodate 6-foot distancing. Carbon impact has been minimized by reducing new construction and by designing around the existing core.

Graphics referencing the history of film-making and audio-editing have been used as branding elements.



Overall Project Results

There were two significant challenges the project faced. First, the city of Sunnyvale early adopted an addendum to the California Fire Code that changed the requirements for the fire protection of UPS storage batteries. They did this before the addendum was legally designed to go into effect and after the project started, necessitating a complete redesign of the fire protection strategies for the building mid-way through the project. Second, there was a regulatory conflict between the parking requirements of the planning department and building department. The only resolution to this conflict involved encroaching on the root zone of protected heritage trees.

The UPS battery challenge required the project team of architect, MEP engineers, the client’s technology team, and the general contractor to enter into a short but intense design charette during the construction document phase of the project to resolve the new, unexpected design criteria imposed on the project by the regulatory agencies. A new design strategy was quickly identified that did not compromise the client’s UPS requirements while still complying with the fire code. For the parking conflict, the solution was to bring a new consultant onto the project team – an arborist – that evaluated the health of the heritage trees and certified the minor encroachment necessary would not pose an imminent threat.

Staff interviews were conducted to evaluate the project post-occupancy. Post occupancy acoustical testing confirmed that the constructed project met the stringent acoustical standards.

The unexpected challenge faced due to the UPS battery in the midst of construction required all the consultants to get into an intense problem-solving workshop that showed a new way to the design strategy without compromising the fire code or the design. This tackling and management of a sudden curveball was quite rewarding.

Project Summary

Because the Covid-19 pandemic hit midway through the project, Interdisciplinary Architecture worked with the client to create a safer working environment that supported social distancing. Beyond the table in The Garage that employees can roll outside, all the interiors feature movable furniture and room layouts that can adjust for 6-foot distancing. Embracing sustainability was a key driver of the design. The retrofit re-uses the entire core and shell of the existing building and makes interventions as required to optimize the acoustic environment, minimizing carbon impact. The only change to the building skin was the garage door, and the interiors are planned around the existing restroom core, allowing it to stay in place and reducing the amount of new construction.

With the help of an arborist, Interdisciplinary Architecture was able to widen parking spaces per code requirements without disturbing the protected Redwood Trees around the building. The studio totals 11,000 SF and combines two sound stages, audio recording studios, green rooms, editing studios, and VIP reception lounges with conference areas and open-plan workspaces for creative collaboration. The project achieves NC- 20 noise criteria for HVAC and NC-25 for sound isolation.

Photography credit

W Architectural Photography

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