When cybersecurity firm Venafi wanted to relocate its headquarters to downtown Salt Lake City from the suburbs, the company envisioned a workspace that would embody a culture of transparency and community. Working with Venafi on both site selection and interior design, Los Angeles–based architect Steven Christensen created an open, light-filled environment that reflects and promotes Venafi’s values, bolstering the company’s collaborative nature and its ability to recruit and retain the brightest talent.
Having physically and psychologically outgrown its previous workspace, characterized by daylight-deprived cubicles and enclosed offices, Venafi longed for an environment that would support its mission. “We are fighting bad guys,” says Venafi Vice President of Finance Michelle Tanner, “and to do that we need a space that cultivates collaboration and nurtures teamwork.”
Fortunately, an informal meeting with Christensen, a Salt Lake City native, segued into a close working relationship between the architect and Venafi’s leadership. “We worked with [Christensen] to translate our cultural values—openness, teamwork, and wellness— into our new space,” Tanner says.
“Venafi wanted a headquarters that would reflect its vision for a new company culture,” Christensen says, “a built manifestation of a desire for a more horizontal, flexible, and healthy office environment.” Surprisingly, Venafi found the framework for that environment in a 30-year-old building, where the third floor had been an investmentbanking call center, complete with oppressive drop ceilings. Yet for Christensen and Venafi, the virtues—floor-to-ceiling glazing, a relatively shallow L-shaped floor plate that allows daylight to penetrate, a prime central location adjacent to mass transit, and expansive views of Salt Lake City and the mountains beyond— overpowered its ordinariness.
Christensen’s first move was to strip bare the 36,000-square-foot interior, revealing the concrete structure and nearly 12-foot-high ceilings. Entirely new lighting and mechanical systems were installed and organized to ensure both energy efficiency and occupant comfort. These environmental systems, which are left exposed where possible in a nod toward transparency and cost-efficiency, absorbed the majority of the project’s budget. Thus the remaining design relied on creative solutions.
Branded on arrival
One arrives at the Venafi office in an elevator lobby lined with black MDF panels that are inscribed with the company’s core initialization code. When light hits the textured panels at certain angles, the play of light and shadow creates a dramatic tone for entry.
In keeping with Venafi’s desire for a collaborative environment, all 160 employees—including the CEO—work together in open workstations. Christensen placed these along the south and west perimeter, maximizing natural light and views. To avoid the appearance of corporate modularity, hanging bar pendant light fixtures run on a diagonal above these open areas, while gray carpet tiles trace the opposite diagonal below moveable, reconfigurable sit-stand desks. A polished concrete path separates these shared workspaces from more private, polycarbonate-screened team and conference rooms. Swatches of orange, blue, and green, which are Venafi’s colors, punctuate the office and differentiate specific zones.
Christensen custom-designed multiple elements, including sliding doors, open workspace cubbies, and the reception desk. And the kitchen’s maple-veneer cabinets and bar form the backdrop for informal social gatherings, which often spill into the adjacent lounge for playing video games, pool, or ping-pong.
Secure within the Cloud
The most iconic element of the headquarters is a large, angular, maple-veneer-clad structure dubbed “the Cloud,” which is an expression of the firm’s focus—the security of information in the cloud. With its multifaceted surface and blue acoustical-foam lining, all fabricated by Boswell Wasatch Architectural Woodwork, this semienclosed space serves as a collaborative lounge. In addition, the Cloud acts as an acoustic buffer between the work areas and the gathering zone next door, dampening the potential din generated by open-office situations. The large area next to the Cloud can accommodate the entire staff for meetings and can be divided by a retractable garage door.
It is no coincidence that the Cloud is both an iconic design feature an acoustic foil. Because of noise concerns, some Venafi staff were initially hesitant to move from cubicles to an open workspace. “Yet, with the new office, we have seen an incredible amount of increased productivity and collaboration,” Tanner says. Now employees are excited about the office. “The headquarters really does reflect our culture,” she says. “And it helps immensely with attracting and keeping the best talent.”
who Architect: Steven Christensen Architecture. Project team: Steven Christensen; Devon Montminy; Andrew Kim. Contractor: Interior Construction Specialists, Lighting and Electrical Engineering: Electrical Engineers + Lighting Design. Mechanical and Plumbing Engineering: Design Build Group. Other: Certified Fire Protection.
what Wallcoverings: The Foam Factory; ARC-COM; Shaw. Paint: Sherwin Williams; Rust-Oleum; Wolf-Gordon. Laminate: Formica; Roseburg. Dry wall: American Gypsum. Operable partition: Modernfold. Wall tile: DalTile. Hard flooring: Stone Source. Resilient flooring: Forbo; Johnsonite. Carpet/carpet tile: Flor; Shaw Contract Group. Ceiling: K13 Spray-On Systems; Armstrong. Interior lighting: QED; Axis; Kurt Versen; Prescolite; WAC Lighting; Creative Illumination; Columbia Lighting; Pentron; Dulux; Axis Lighting; Prescolite; Solera; David Trubridge Design; CB2; Philips; Armacost. Hardware: Pemko; Rockwood; McKinney; Corbin Russwin; HES Innovations; Rixson; Securitron; SOSS; Adams Rite. Doors: Custom; Eggers Industries; Haas Door. Hollow metal frames: Ceco Door. Custom wood frames: Boswell Wasatch Architectural Woodwork. Architectural glass/glazing: Mollerup Glass. Decorative glass panels/partitions: Polygal; 3Form. Window treatments: Cascade Coil Drapery. Bases: Enwork. Worksurfaces: Soelberg Industries. Seating: WorkPro; Ligne Roset; Blueprint; Facett; Bludot; SitOnIt Seating; Interior Solutions. Cafeteria/dining tables: Room and Board. Training tables: IKEA. Side tables: Bludot; CB2. File pedestals: Great Openings; Midwest Commercial Interiors. Shelving: Custom. Architectural/custom woodworking: Contempo Cabinet & Mill; Boswell Wasatch Architectural Woodwork. Signage: Hightech Signs. Plumbing fixtures/fittings: Kohler; Insinkerator; Eemax; Watts Drainage USA; Sloan Valve Company; Olsonite Seat Company; Dearborne Brass; Watts Regulator Company; Brass Craft Manufacturing; Braswell Associates; Bemis. Toilet Partitions: Accurate Partitions Corp. Textile treatments/finishes: Crypton.