I went down to the Philadelphia Navy Yard yesterday to take a look at the architecture of the new GlaxoSmithKline building (by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Francis Cauffman) but what really caught my eye was the desks, er, workspaces. Glaxo's new offices are organized around the concept of hoteling, where employees aren't assigned their own desk or cubicle. Instead, they're encouraged to float around the building, checking in where they're most comfortable. This might one of the comfy, colorful chairs in the light-saturated atrium, a big all-purpose table near a corner window overlooking Lincoln Financial Field or at a café table in the coffee lounge. For the more traditional, there are work tables that can be raised and lowered, depending on whether you like to work sitting, standing or perched on a yoga ball. When they need to work collaboratively, people coalesce into teams at one of the many large tables.
The big advantage of this arrangement for Glaxo (Though , maybe not for Philadelphia's Center City) is that it has been able to cut its office space needs by 75 percent from its old space 15th and Vine. Even though there are roughly the same number of employees at the Navy Yard, about 1,300, it didn't seem the least bit crowded. Amazingly, 30 percent of the company's space is set aside for amenities, like the atrium.
I'm going to be reviewing Glaxo's new headquarters on April 5, so look then for a fuller treatment of the architecture, interior design and planning implications of its move.