The renowned law firm Stibbe, founded in 1911, has built an international practice with offices in seven countries. Headquartered in Amsterdam and located in the historic center of the city for years, the firm was in need of a new office to reflect its expanding contemporary practice. Stibbe now occupies a stunning new building that, in its transparency and collaborative focus, illustrates a strikingly modern approach to law office design.
With its previous workplace interior divided into numerous small rooms, Stibbe leadership wanted its new office to be a fluid space that would encourage informal interaction and communication between the firm’s various practice groups and generations of lawyers. In the Zuidas, a rapidly developing business district in southern Amsterdam, within a dynamic new building by Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists, Delft, Netherlands–based architecture and design firm Fokkema & Partners crafted a sophisticated interior for Stibbe. An open, integrated environment with geometric forms and timeless materials allows Stibbe’s nearly 200 lawyers and associated staff to easily accomplish their work and connect with clients.
Understated and sculptural
After inviting select design firms to submit interior concepts, Stibbe chose Fokkema, known as one of the leading Dutch firms creating workplace interiors.
“Fokkema’s style—chic yet understated—fit the way we wanted to represent ourselves,” says Marcel Abbringh, Stibbe’s chief operating officer. “And with Fokkema’s broad experience designing for law firms, the designers understood the requirements of our business.”
Laura Atsma, a Fokkema partner, led the design team that developed the refined workplace concept, inserting voids and connecting spaces to create a sculptural interior. “Unlike the typical law office, which is often closed and opaque, Stibbe’s building is about transparency, interaction, meeting, and seeing each other,” Atsma says. “This transparency allows for communication between interior and exterior, and between people.”
Totaling 150,000 square feet and supporting about 450 employees, the building surrounds a striking triangular eight-story, glass-topped atrium. The ground level, housing the lobby, library, and coffee bar, connects to the first floor via open staircases and walkways, which also provide access to the auditorium and restaurant. The second through seventh floors contain offices and supporting areas. Open workspaces for junior lawyers occupy the corners, and two-to-three-person offices line the building’s glazed perimeter. Subtly patterned glass walls enclose the offices, extending the notion of transparency behind closed doors.
Meeting rooms face two sides of the atrium and balconies bow along another plane in front of a communal living room. Full-service meeting facilities are on the top two floors. Along with numerous conference rooms, the eighth floor features a reception area that wraps the prism-shaped atrium skylight, visually connecting this upper zone to the rest of the building below. On the ninth floor, a glass-enclosed elliptical boardroom crowns the building like a shining jewel.
Shared vocabulary of form and material
In the atrium, the light marble floor and lower walls create a bright, welcoming environment. White custom-designed acoustic panels made of perforated MDF backed by felt screen the building’s prominent steel structure as it rises upward. The panels are integrated perfectly, dampening noise while echoing the triangular forms that appear throughout the custom-furnished building in plan, elevation, and detail.
In addition to harnessing the triangle as a unifying element, the designers adopted a palette of oak veneer, natural-hued leather, and glass to integrate the building’s interior spaces. These materials first appear in the lobby, establishing a vocabulary that carries through to the offices. Oak lobby stairs foreshadow the walls and floors of the library and coffee bar, as well as the wall panels that punctuate the hallways above. Natural-hued leather is prominent on benches in the workspace and boardroom, as well as on the conference room chairs. Oak walls with diagonal leather-seam detailing adorn the auditorium. Glass appears in just about every space—from the auditorium’s unique sidewall to the top-level boardroom—serving as an ever-present reminder that the Stibbe building is, above all, about transparency.
In addition to providing an engaging work environment that is truly hospitable, Abbringh says the interiors “make it easier for practice groups and departments to collaborate, complete projects, and identify new opportunities for the firm.”
Making the most of its compelling workplace, beautiful atrium, and ample meeting spaces, Stibbe regularly hosts receptions and events for clients, colleagues, and academic institutions, thereby strengthening the firm’s connections to the larger community.
who Architect and interior designer: Fokkema & Partners. Project team: Laura Atsma; Twan Steeghs; Bénine Dekker; Paul Scholte. Building Architect: Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists. Contractor: Dura Vermeer. Consultants: DVPC. Engineering: DWA. Kitchen: Horequip. Acoustician: DGMR.
what Walls: Van Stokkum Natuursteen; Gielissen; Smeulders; Sepawand. Flooring: Finesse; Leoxx. Carpet/carpet tile: Anker; Patcraft. Ceilings: HCKP. Lighting: Flos; Estiluz; Prandina; Pedrali; Functionals; Tom Dixon; Vibia; Bocci; Alex de Witte; Zero lighting; Zumtobel; Molto Luce; Jacco Maris; Serge Mouille. Doors: Sepawand. Decorative glass panels/partitions: Sepawand. Seating: Gispen; Wilkhahn; Knoll; Vitra; Walter Knoll; Cassina; Arper; Mater; Piiroinen; Design F&P; Arco; Martela; E15; Moroso; Palau; Vitra; Fermob. Upholstery: Kvadrat; De Ploeg; FEBRIK; Spinneybec; Ohmann. Tables: Design F&P; Fritz Hansen; Andreu World; Smeulders Pedrali; Moooi; Gielissen; Tacchini; Cappellini; Walter Knoll; Unifor; Pedrali. Files: Gielissen. Signage: Signmakers.