Interiors Awards 2017: Office–Large

Symbolic of a highly transparent news organization, the glass-enclosed Ben Bradlee Story Conference Room, where editors meet to plan coverage, is located near the center of the newsroom. Photography by Garrett Rowland

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The Washington Post
Designer: Gensler
Client: The Washington Post
Location: Washington, D.C.

“The bold design evokes the unique feeling of a newsroom. With an apt color palette of black and white, the large plan of the interior is well programmed, with various areas that each stand out.” —Jury

The Washington Post is a venerated 140-year-old news organization in our nation’s capital, with a history that coincides with the big news stories of the day. A newspaper of primarily local influence in its early years, the Post rose to national stature in the early 1970s when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story under the leadership of Executive Editor Ben Bradlee. And right now, in the midst of dramatic political change following a tumultuous election season, the Post is at another time of prominence, with an important role covering the news at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

To enable its team to present that news to an extensive international audience online, in video, and on social media, in addition to print, the Post moved into a new, sophisticated headquarters in December 2015, designed by Gensler. Sumita Arora, principal and media practice area loader at Gensler, and John McKinney, design director, oversaw the project.

Multiplatform news delivery is quickly evolving, and the Post is at the forefront of that change with its contemporary, open newsroom that is allowing the journalists to do their best work. Approximately 1,600 Post employees now occupy about 238,000 square feet on floors four through nine of 1301 K Street, NW, also known as One Franklin Square, a nearly block-long building with very linear floor plates. An open layout was important symbolically to Publisher Fred Ryan, who wanted to look across the length of the newsroom to have a sense of “a vast engine for newsgathering and collaboration,” according to Tracy Grant, deputy managing editor of the Post, who oversees the newsroom.

The Post had previously been just a few blocks away, on 15th Street, since 1972, in a space cobbled together within three connected buildings. Great journalism was accomplished there, but the interiors were nothing special. Now that the Post has been in its new workplace, the impact is palpable. “I used to give tours in the old building and would have to apologize for it,” says Grant. “This space fits the buzz; it feels appropriate for the buzz that the work is generating. It’s literally breathtaking, and it’s really fun tosee people react to it.”

Arora and McKinney designed the newsroom to reflect the interdisciplinary convergence of the work of journalists today: writers and editors next to videographers, photo editors, designers, social media writers, and technology engineers. The interior palette is light, neutral, and monochromatic, with shades of gray and tan against black and white, and blue is used as a highlight color. Flooring in corridors and public areas is white oak. Meetings can be held in open lounge areas, four-person huddle rooms, six-person team rooms, and larger conference rooms.

Central to the newsroom is the Hub, a double-height space containing multiple flat-screen television monitors, with one showing the live analytics of online stories and social media engagement. For the top news or breaking stories, a small team can gather here to synthesize and produce coverage. “The most remarkable thing about the Hub is the amount of ambient information,” says Eric Rich, editor of the Post’s universal news desk. “There’s just a huge amount of information around the Hub, which is really helpful. It’s hard not to know what is happening on our website, digitally, when pretty much everywhere you look, there it is.”

Next to the Hub, top editors meet twice daily to strategize in the Ben Bradlee Story Conference Room. Intentionally glass-enclosed to convey a high sense a transparency, the Bradlee room is adjacent to an area with sofas and soft seating for more casual conversations within view of a wall that recognizes all of the Post’s Pulitzer Prizes.

On election night and the next morning, November 8–9, 2016, this central area of the Hub, the Bradlee room, and its adjacent open space was teeming with writers and editors next to about 50 tech engineers on laptops making sure that the Post’s content management system, interactive maps, and video capabilities all worked smoothly as, literally, the whole world was watching. The news was delivered without a glitch by savvy journalism professionals in a newsroom with worldly technological capabilities.

who Architect: Gensler. Project team: Lisa Amster; Sumita Arora; Tim Wright; Benjamin Holsinger; Laura Huacuja; Mayre Perez; Melanie Kwon. John McKinney; Carol Schneider; Ann Gottlieb; Steven Joswick; Hannah Olin; Lee Lindhal. Contractor: Rand Construction. Lighting: SBLD Studios. Engineering: WSP USA; SK&A Associates. Graphics: Gensler; Photoworks Group; Patricia Hord. Acoustician: CMS Audio Visual. Broadcast: Severn Integrated Systems. Set design: Clickspring Design. Food service: Woodburn & Associates. AV: CMS Audio Visual. Fire/life safety: Aon Fire Protection Engineering. Signage: Patricia Hord Graphic Design. Project manager: JM Zell.
what Wallcoverings: Knoll; Maharam. Laminate: Pionite; Formica; Lamin-Art; Chemetal; Abet Laminati. Walls: National Gypsum; NanaWall; Skyfold; Transwall. Flooring: Mountain Lumber Company; Daltile; Stone Source; Architectural Ceramics; Hyde; Forbo; Artigo; Roppe. Carpet: Tandus Centivia; Shaw Contract; J+J Invision. Ceilings: 9-wood. Lighting: Cooper; Zumtobel; Mark Architectural Lighting; USAI Lighting; Guzzini; Soratane; Edge Lighting; Selux; Tech Lighting; Lindsley Lighting; Bartco; Sistemalux; Vibia; VarioLED; Tech Lighting; Traxon. Doors: Transwall Doors & Hardware; Patella; Overly; Eggers. Hardware: ABH; Dorma; LCN; Rockwood; Schlage; Von Duprin; Häfele; Glynn Johnson; Ives; Rixon. Architectural glass/ glazing: Transwall; KGA. Decorative glass panels/ partitions: McGrory Glass. Window treatments: MechoShade. Workstations: Herman Miller. Seating: Davis; Arper; Geiger; Coalesse; HBF; HighTower; Keilhauer; BuzziSpace; Vitra; Steelcase; Andreu World. Tables: Nucraft; Datesweiser; HighTower; Andreu World; Modloft; Patella. Storage systems: Herman Miller; Hollman. Architectural/ custom woodworking: Patella; IBS Millwork. Signage: Gelberg Signs. Plumbing fixtures: Kohler; Bobrick. Upholstery: Herman Miller; Spinneybeck; Edlemann; Maharam; KnollTextiles; DesignTex; BuzziSpace; Vitra; Andreu World.

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