Amping Up the Collision Coefficient at BCG’s New York Offices
“Unlock insight.” “Challenge established thinking.” “Drive transformation.” Reading through the mission of global firm Boston Consulting Group, it’s no secret that encouraging innovation is in their DNA. It’s only fitting then that when the company looked to relocate their New York City offices, they targeted a location like no other: the first tower built in Hudson Yards.
Workspaces range from casual seating to formal meeting rooms.
The new office also marked a new chapter in the company’s evolution—one that reflects their drive to be bold. From the fluid, neighborhood-style working areas to the design intended to produce casual “collisions” between employees, BCG senior partner and New York managing director Ross Love has said, “We didn’t just change addresses; we changed the culture.”
No two spaces alike
Geared around a community concept, the workplace offers just about any type of working or meeting pace one could ask for. Sit/stand work stations dot the neighborhood areas of the firm’s six floors, while pen lounge areas, quiet nooks, large tables and various forms of seating fill the common areas. The office’s many meeting rooms, both formal and informal, can be booked by an individual for a few minutes of private time or by a team working on a project for weeks at a stretch.
With these unique spaces come unique designs, which, says Structure Tone project manager Derek Hamilton, did pose some challenges. “Every single room is different. No finishes are the same, and the rooms are different shapes and different colors,” he says. “We had to measure everything individually and we couldn’t really order many of the materials in bulk. The company did, however, try to work with the same vendors to get the desired design variety at a more competitive price.”
Because many of the company’s employees are mobile throughout the week, working areas are meant to easily shift from one user to the next, depending who needs them. To that end, dedicated offices are few and far between in favor of a hot-desking system, with available private areas to offer focus space when needed. To keep track of who is where, employees and visitors check in to a desk on a tablet, which they can also use to reserve conference rooms and other spaces. The whole idea of this fluid workforce is to increase the office’s “collision coefficient,” or how often employees casually interact throughout the day. And it’s not just an abstract theory—BCG actually tracked employee movements on a volunteer basis to see how it worked. “Volunteers wore devices that measured collisions through data on where they went, who they interacted with, how business units crossed. It’s unbelievable,” says Hamilton.
That connectivity also means the office’s technology systems are critical. Each floor has its own IT room to house equipment, and the 126 individual offices each have their own one-touch IT/AV systems. In addition, the “venture” and “immersion” meeting rooms are equipped with collaborative screens, including a 24-by-6-foot Prysm touch screen canvas, that teams can use to brainstorm and modify ideas on the spot. “Many of these systems hadn’t all worked together in one place before, so we were testing things out as we went,” says Hamilton.
Construction within construction
But perhaps the biggest challenge in building out the space was doing so in a building—and on a site—that was still under construction itself. 10 Hudson Yards was the first to begin construction, and with leases quickly being signed, tenant fit outs began as soon as physically possible. BCG’s space was one of four being built out at the same time, all while the base building was still finishing up. Issues facing the base building construction team often trickled down to the tenant space contractors, meaning coordination and communication were key. “With so many contractors on site, we sometimes lost elevator access for days,” Hamilton says. “We just had to plan our work out the best we could and stay in constant communication with the base building owner to make sure we were always up to speed.”
The results of that challenging work, however, are well worth the complexity. The new space is simply stunning and is certainly turning heads throughout the commercial real estate industry. In fact, BCG has had over 90 firms tour through the space for inspiration. “We knew we were doing something special while we were building it,” says Hamilton. “But to see how happy they are with the space in the end is such rewarding proof. Everyone is just thrilled.”
A central staircase connects all six floors and provides opportunities for chance “collisions”.
Client: Boston Consulting Group
Engineer: Lilker Associates
Owners Rep: Gardiner & Theobald
Acoustical: Longman Lindsey
STO Services: Construction Management
Completion: November 2016
Photography by Molly Renneisen.