When you’re a full service, modern advertising agency like Mullen, your clients expect you to be able to not only “talk the talk” but also to “walk the walk.” The company knew it needed to give its operations an entire workplace transformation, from where employees worked to how they retained talent, but was not sure how to get there.
Mullen initially was based in an old convent about 30 minutes outside of Boston. The building was highly outdated, with long, narrow corridors and enclosed offices. Although aesthetically pastoral, the design imparted the youthful, vibrant brand was trying to portray, which is why Mullen jumped at the chance to change locales—and redefine its culture—when its lease ran out.
With the help of New York-based TPG Architecture, Mullen moved into a modern-styled, functionally designed space in the financial district of downtown Boston in June 2009. This 100,000-sq.-ft. space, however, proved to be quite the challenge for the design team, which was looking to create an open workspace that took advantage of the city views. “The building is old, oddly shaped, features slab-to-slab heights, and needed HVAC upgrades,” says Larry Berger, studio director at TPG and design director on the project.
“But it also possessed inherent qualities,” he adds, “harbor views, great neighborhood, lots of natural light. We kept the best views for the staff and placed the private offices along the sides with lesser views.”
The team also navigated through challenges with a three-floor layout, which easily could segregate employees and diminish inherent ideals of teamwork. To better join the three floors, TPG designed a three-story staircase, cutting through the slab to open up the space and create a wider visual connection between the floors. The more open interior also helped to allow natural light to enter the core areas.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect for TPG was not inherent in the space, but in the client, whose passion and vision, according to Berger, made Mullen one of the firm’s most successful project. “It’s wonderful to work with a client so dedicated to its culture, with an understanding of the role of the workplace…In the end, an energized, 400-person workforce successfully has transitioned and the work environment is meeting all the goals we (TPG and Mullen) set out to achieve,” he says.