Rich Gold, the lead lobbyist for the law firm of Holland & Knight, presented his plan to the firm’s senior partners for how the new office in Washington, D.C. should be designed. The plan from Gold asked for large corner offices to be removed in favor of uniform cubicles so there is no notice of seniority. The plan was to put together a work place that is more egalitarian, according to the Washington Post.
“In a lot of people’s heads, that [design] works for Google, but not a law firm,” Gold said. “It was like, ‘Don’t make me do that.’”
After he issued his plan to partners, there was a period of 18 months where discussions were ongoing about the design. During that period, 200 employees in the office were interviewed so the firm could figure out what they were looking for in the new office.
The new office blends modern hotels and airports into a law firm setting. The offices are only 10-by-12-foot cubes that have floor-to-ceiling glass. No matter how long you have been with the firm, everyone has the same size office. All of the secretaries at the firm sit in U and C-shaped clusters in the center of the office so they can be seen and heard by all. At most firms, the secretaries are situated outside the office of the lawyer for whom they work.
There are even communal sections in the firm that have themes. The cantina was designed based on the Mos Eisley Cantina from “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” It has a Wii and a foosball table. In the near future, the cantina will have a treadmill with a laptop built into it. The conference room at the office is known as the ‘Bat Cave.’ The walls in the ‘Bat Cave’ are whiteboards that can be written on and then erased.
To design the office, Gold worked with David Chason, formerly of Gensler.
“This is their most unique location,” Chason said. “In particular, that 10th floor we have not done anywhere else yet. It was somewhat of a prototype … we sat down with Rich and his group to understand their business goals, how they wanted to reinvent themselves or present themselves to Washington.”
“We’ve integrated our space to the way our practice is going,” Gold said. “Space is a building block. We’re trying to be where lobbying and advocacy ought to be going. The difference is how many contact points do you have a day with your colleagues? How often do you talk to your co-workers? We have 10 times more contact in a more open space than a traditional space. It’s that collision of atoms that produces creativity … How do you design space to produce that outcome?”