Few workplace interior transformations are as dramatic as Wiley Publishing’s headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey. Suzette Subance Ferrier, a studio design director at TPG Architecture and Contract magazine’s 2017 Designer of the Year, reconceived the company’s office to reflect not only changing work styles but also the evolving business of the 210-year-old publisher, which has progressed from print to digital information.
In a waterfront building with dramatic views of Manhattan across the Hudson River since 2002, Wiley kept its location but completely redesigned its office, reducing the headquarters workforce to about 1,200 employees and consolidating from nine floors to six. The 2002-era workspaces met the definition of “closed”—dominated by a sea of extra-tall cubicles that hemmed in and isolated employees while neglecting views. The only unifier was what Subance Ferrier sadly called “12 shades of beige.”
By creating the new space, TPG has brought Wiley into the present and ready for the future, fashioning the contemporary look of a company that has more unity, collaboration, flexibility, and panache. “We wanted to emphasize the role that technology plays here,” says Jay Flynn, senior vice president and managing director of research publishing at Wiley.
A sophisticated and energizing workspace
While seeking a more progressive atmosphere, Wiley leadership did not ask for it to resemble a flashy tech company, notes Subance Ferrier. “They wanted it to be current, not trendy; edgy but still professional,” she says. Pulling off this balancing act in an office culture that was long used to something quite different took cooperation from the very beginning. Subance Ferrier listened to employees’ concerns about the possible distractions and upheaval of an open plan, then created a design that exudes sophistication and calm as it is both unencumbered and energizing.
All cubicles were removed, and the only private office is for the chair of the board. “It’s much easier to collaborate and see what’s going on,” says Flynn. “We have a surplus of meeting spaces, a range of seating options, the ability to walk around and see people and to create a sense of esprit de corps and teamwork. All that outweighs the ability I once had to shut my door and crank it out.”
An open, light environment
Work areas are near windows, allowing daylight and views to reach many more employees than before. Everyone from editorial and technology to sales and marketing is seated at white bench desks. Lighting is straightforward, with indirect and direct LED fixtures. Textured carpeting and polished concrete add variety and delineate zones across the wide floor plates.
Subance Ferrier crafted multiple casual seating areas, designed for both group meetings and visitors from other floors and companies, topped by zigzag-patterned ceiling tiles and semiexposed ceilings. A series of glass-clad conference rooms, which wrap the inner core of the building, are highlighted by splashes of color and texture with decorative pendant lighting. Nearby booths are activated by wall graphics of images from Wiley’s considerable archives.
Elevator banks at the core have angled, perforated metal ceilings overhead, and an adjacent glass-enclosed staircase also connects the floors. Kitchens are next to the stair on each floor with informal seating such as lounge chairs, sofas, and bar-style tables.
Spaces that instill pride
On the second floor, the redesigned cafe seats approximately 230, and can be configured for large-scale meetings. Changes in the ceiling plane help to define zones, with a metal grid over the coffee bar, tiles over the open seating area, and exposed ceilings in the front entry. Metallic mesh scrims add shimmer and further define the space. Curved banquettes at the edges of the cafe are clad in chestnut veneer.
“It wasn’t about bringing in crazy or fussy fixtures,” says Subance Ferrier. “It was about using normal fixtures in a more interesting way.” The impressive combination of variety, energy, and boldness along with understated simplicity has transformed the office’s feel, and employee work style and culture.
“There’s a much better team feeling across the business,” Flynn says. “People are proud of the space. You can bring your clients and feel good about sharing this.”
who Architect and interior designer: TPG Architecture. Architecture project team: Michel Fiechter; Michael Hayes; Edgar Krois; Chase Hodge; Jane DeSimone. Interior design project team: Suzette Subance Ferrier; Samantha McCormack; Rebekah Forlenza. Contractor: StructureTone. Lighting: OneLux Studios. Engineering: AMA Consulting Engineers; HHPC (structural). Kitchen: Carbone. Acoustician: Acoustic Distinctions. Project manager: JLL. Kitchen: Raymond. Furniture: Dancker. Kitchen equipment: Singer. AV: Lilker.
what Paint: Benjamin Moore. Movable walls: Modernfold. Stretch fabric wall system: DFB; Luna Textiles; Xorel. Wallcoverings: Designtex; Trove; Trikes; Innovations; Carnegie. Tile: Nemo Tile; Daltile; Prospec; Tiles by Tina; Akdo; Porcelanosa. Resilient flooring: Patcraft; Bolon; Lonseal; Armstrong. Carpet/carpet tile: Mannington; Modulyss; Totally Carpet. Wood flooring: Nydree. Lighting: USAI; Litelab; Peerless Lighting; Birchwood Lighting; Vibia; Artimide; Ecosense. Doors: Teknion. Ceilings: Arktura. Architectural glass/glazing: Teknion. Decorative glass panels/partitions: Skyline. Window treatments: Eco fabrix. Workstation/task seating: Steelcase. Conference seating: Allermuir. Lounge/reception seating: Allermuir. Cafeteria/ dining seating: Herman Miller. Upholstery: Mahram; Brentano; Designtex. Conference tables: Nucraft. Training/side tables: Allermuir. Files: Herman Miller. Lockers/cubbies: Steelcase. Architectural/custom woodworking: Epic Millwork; M. Bohlke. Plastic Laminate: Wilsonart; Formica. Solid surfacing: DuPont; Caesarstone. Plumbing fixtures/fittings: Kolher; Sloan; Elkay.