Founded in 1982, the same year that Sun Microsystems, Adobe, and Autodesk got started, the tech company Symantec is one of Silicon Valley’s stalwarts. Symantec is best known for its antivirus software, but it is doing more than just defeating hackers. With its redesigned office, the company is also helping to advance the conversation on best practices in workplace interiors.
Intended to set the tone for its multiple global sites, the renovation of Symantec’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, was led by local firm AP+I Design, which partnered with Little, a larger firm with expertise in designing interiors for wellness. In the first phase featured here, AP+I and Little reconceived three floors, totaling 127,000 square feet, or about 60 percent of the company’s main building. The second and final phase is currently under construction and includes two additional floors. The revamped interior will be WELL certified under the standard developed by Delos that encourages health through the built environment. In addition, Symantec employees now enjoy a contemporary cafe that reinvigorates the company’s presence in a traditional office park.
The office building was originally designed by HOK in 2002 for Veritas Software, which merged with Symantec in 2005. The four-story building, U-shaped in plan around a central green, has plenty of glazing. But the previous dated layout with private offices and cloistered banks of high cubes along narrow corridors was lit by fluorescent lights.
To effect a cultural shift and encourage collaboration across its offices, Symantec initially engaged Gensler to develop global workplace guidelines. AP+I and Little were then hired to design the interiors of the Mountain View headquarters, converting the maze of enclosures into an open-plan office. AP+I and Little organized the floors into neighborhoods of 30 to 50 desks, each supplemented by reconfigurable meeting rooms, created with a modular wall system from Dirtt. A monolithic dropped ceiling was replaced with high-performance acoustic tile above the work areas and a wood-slat system elsewhere.
In addition to breaking down walls, the designers literally broke through the floor, creating a double-height gathering hub in the center of the plan. All-hands meetings take place on the second floor, while game and sports-bar-like areas are accessible by a large open stair. Arguably the biggest transformation, though, was a simple one. Metal window blinds, which blocked glare, were removed to allow more natural light and views through a new window tint and semisheer shades. In a postoccupancy survey, 86 percent of the staff reported that they had sufficient natural lighting.
WELL certification contributes to wow factor
Lighting is one of seven focus areas in the WELL certification process, which is modeled on LEED. The other categories are air, water, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind. “It was really exciting to put wellness at the center of the project—to design a building that is intended to work on all levels for the people who inhabit it,” says Cailin McNulty, senior interior designer at AP+I.
Besides optimizing natural light, the team added LED lighting that shifts color temperature—more blue in the morning, more yellow in the evening—to complement natural circadian rhythms. WELL encourages a connection to nature, or biophilia, and the designers used natural materials, such as teak, for accent walls and specified carpet with a pebblelike pattern. To support a more active workforce, all desks are sit-stand, and the designers added a jump-rope wall, a hula-hoop wall, and an indoor track for walking meetings.
Symantec also wanted the renovation to have a wow factor to help retain staff and recruit prospective employees. To add visual punch, Gensler designed the bold environmental branding and graphics for the interiors that were otherwise designed by AP+I and Little. The designers gave each lounge room a theme and specified the furnishings down to the accessories, as precise as a figurine of Sherlock Holmes. “People love the redesign,” says Terry Hillyard, senior project manager for global space planning and projects at Symantec. “They are really happy with the conference rooms and collaborative spaces.”
Union 82 for Symantec and the public
Adjacent to the workspace, Symantec opened a 3,500-square-foot cafe and bar in what was formerly the company’s gym. Designed by Gensler to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Union 82 seats 90 and gives employees an after-hours hangout and another venue for food, drink, and casual gathering. This is important because the area around Symantec, with mostly office buildings, has very few options for relaxed dining. Although primarily for Symantec employees, Union 82 is open to the public, helping to further eschew a corporate cafeteria feel.
Inspired by the site’s history—tech pioneer Fairchild Semiconductor was located here in the 1960s, and neighborhoods of midcentury modern homes are not far away—Gensler specified a few new elements that appear retro, such as a wall of concrete masonry units and brass light fixtures. Black-walnut millwork has a laid-back, residential feel, and seating in natural ash is another wink to the past. Tucked into a corner of Union 82 is a private 20-seat dining room, which has been very popular for company meetings.
“Our main theme was to bring a hospitality-minded aesthetic to a corporate environment,” says Collin Burry, design director at Gensler, based in San Francisco. “We wanted to create a hub with a buzz on campus and beyond.”
who Architects: Little; AP+I Design. Project team: Carol Sandman; Jim Thompson; Shelley Hazlitt; Cailin McNulty; Becca Bellamy Carol Rickard-Brideau; Larry Grondahl; Greg Horn; Karrie Stegina; Erin Fajardo; Scott Brideau;Doug Stadler. Contractor: NOVO Construction. Lighting: Lumenworks. Engineering: Little; Nishkian Menninger. Graphics: Gensler; Environmental Branding. Acoustician: Charles M Salter Associates. Other: AVI Systems; Cushman & Wakefield.
what Wallcoverings: TerraMai; Designtex. Paint:PPG. Movable wall: DIRTT. Hard flooring: Nydree Flooring. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface. Ceiling: Armstrong & Eurospan. Lighting: Pinnacle; Finelite; Delray; Tech Lighting; Innermost; Rejuvenation; XAL; Luceplan. Hardware: Schlage. Window treatments: Draper. Workstations: Steelcase; One Workplace. Workstation/task seating: Allsteel. Conference seating: Steelcase. Lounge/reception seating: Naughtone; Herman Miller; Offecct; Coalesse; Hightower; Bernhardt Design; Vitra; Anthropologie. Cafeteria/dining seating: Sandler Seating; Industry West. Upholstery: Designtex; Maharam; Arc-Com; Camira; Bernhardt Textiles. Conference table: Steelcase. Cafeteria/dining: Room and Board. Side tables: Allermuir; Vitra; West Elm Workspace. Other tables: Restoration Hardware. Shelving: Dot & Bo. Drawers/case goods: Steelcase. Architectural/custom woodworking: Complete Millwork Services. Planters, accessories: Dot & Bo, Restoration Hardware Signage: Von Kohorn; Kitzmiller Signmakers.
Union 82 at Symantec
who Architect: Gensler. Project team: Kim Dale; Sondra Law; Laura Denton; Collin Burry; Sondra Law; Deborah Pfeiffer; Cooper McKenna. Contractor: NOVO Construction. Lighting: BLD Lighting Design. Structural Engineering: KPFF Consulting Engineers. Kitchen: Kitchen Restaurant & Bar Specialists. Graphics: Gensler. Audio Visual: Avidex.
what Paint: Benjamin Moore; Cardinal.Ceramic Tile: Royal Mosa; Spec Ceramics. Laminate: Lamin-Art; Formica. Concrete: Concreteworks. Granite: Walker Zanger. Masonry wall: ORCO Block CO. Modular Walls: Adotta. Epoxy Floors: Westcoat. Carpet- Area Rugs: Kasthall Food Prep areas: Armstrong. Dining: 9 Wood. Lighting: USA Illumination; Prescolite; Bartco; LF Illumination; ALW; Koncept; Sonora; Lamber & Fils; Tom Dixon; V2 Lighting; Autoban; V2 Lighting. Hardware: Rocky Mountain Hardware. Architectural glass/glazing: 3M. Window treatments: Hunter Douglas. Cafeteria/dining seating: Herman Miller; Bend; Amisco Contract; Moooi; Herman Miller; Kay Chesterfield; Landscape Forms. Cafeteria/dining: Andreu World; Northwood; All Modern; Table Topics; Landscape Forms; Northwood. Signage: Sentinel. Plumbing fixtures/fittings: Kohler; Bobrick.