For their new tech hub in San Francisco, Bloomberg wanted to create a space that embodied their status as an established and innovative technology company. There would be no ping-pong tables, silkscreened inspirational posters or playroom-inspired spaces. Bloomberg is not a start-up, but a mature leader in the technology space. The Tech Hub is a laboratory of science and art. Its occupants take financial data and create new uses and applications for it.
Situated on the 22nd and 23rd floor of the art deco-era 140 New Montgomery building, Iwamoto Scott’s space honors its history yet is also a bespoke environment, modern and sophisticated. Volume was asked to extend the narrative of the space through a visual identity that included wayfinding and environmental graphics.
First and foremost, the Volume team wanted to ensure the graphics solution seamlessly wove itself into the architecture—a natural extension of both the existing architecture and Iwamoto Scott’s new design. Colors and textures were chosen to complement the steel, wood and glass used in the space. Panels were treated like the steel of the architecture and spaced off the brick and concrete of the original construction to create a “cushion” between old and new.
The project included identification and distraction banding (of varying scale and amount) for 12 meeting rooms, plus general wayfinding—stairs, restrooms, fire extinguishers, etc. Volume also added custom elements such as interpretive vignettes on small panels and structural columns throughout the space.
The main design narrative revolves around the Platonic solids, symbols that also straddle the line between art and science. Codified in ancient Greece, the Platonic solids were thought to be the base material of the physical world while also having spiritual and symbolic significance. All the meeting room names are derived from this system and visually play out most prominently as distraction banding for the glass walls. These solids “unfold” in tessellating horizontal bands that speak to both the concrete world (white vinyl) and the creative potential of that world (translucent vinyl). More complex solids are used in the larger rooms, such as the floor-to ceiling-sized ones for the glass wall of the “Void” (quiet reading) room on floor 23. This motif also plays out on the stairwell doors, where the “view” of the five foundational solids “rotates” from floor to floor.
Because Bloomberg is planning tech hubs in other cities, Volume created a system that would also “localize” each instance. First, meeting rooms are identified not only by their names, but also by an exact GPS location. Data is at the heart of Bloomberg, and this was a way to bring it directly into the wayfinding system. Second, while Volume used Bloomberg’s brand typography for any text, they commissioned a type designer to create a custom number set inspired by the building’s history. Last, through extensive research, the team identified historic local discoveries and accomplishments—Bloomberg-associated or otherwise—and imprinted them on the office environment via small plaques mounted to the existing brick and concrete. Historical precedents also come into play in the form of inspirational vignettes silkscreened in metallic gold on steel panels attached to the existing concrete columns. These vignettes include a diagram of how the eye moves when viewing the Nefertiti bust, one of Darwin’s Origin of the Species charts and an infographic comparing the size of an organism against its life span. Examples from the past are showcased to motivate future accomplishments.
More practically, Volume created a system of clips on the wall facing the reception desks that allow the employees to post information about events (Today, Soon) and more whimsical, inspirational content (Always).
Adam Brodsley, Eric Heiman (creative directors); Eric Heiman, Bryan Bindloss (design leads); Emanuela Frattini Magnusson (design lead, Bloomberg); Aine Coughlan, Paola Meraz (designers); Leah Elamin (production designer); Erin Kemp (project manager)
20,000 sq. ft.
James Edmondson (typeface designer), Iwamoto Scott Architecture (space architecture)