YouTube approached the design team, requesting a cohesive lobby experience that would unify the space with their brand. For employees, this area was thought of as a sort of Grand Central Station, a hub that everyone passes through multiple times a day. For visitors, the lobby would likely be the only part of the company that they would be granted access to—and the experience had been perceived by many as anticlimactic. The company wanted a space that would fill employees with pride, as well as engage visitors and encourage them to share their experience with the world through social media.
A series of visioning sessions with project stakeholders led to design principles that would dictate the outcome of the new lobby: create a striking experience, something memorable, that would inspire visitors and mark their arrival at the company headquarters; integrate iconic and share-worthy branding to encourage user interaction with social media and vloging within the lobby; and incorporate multipurpose functionality and optimal flow, so that the space could be used for events as well as for day-to-day work activities. Finally, the last objective was to provide a canvas for creators, where visiting Youtubers could display their work at a grand scale.
901 Cherry’s double-height atrium was stripped down to its metallic structure, intersected by a long skylight that runs the length of the space. Upon entry, visitors are greeted with a floor-to-ceiling digital installation on the southern wall, neatly tucked between the building’s steel structure. Rather than add a cutting-edge high-resolution screen to display content, the designers treated the installation as an art piece, an abstraction of a screen that celebrates individual pixels. The LEDs that light the panels are broadly spaced and set a few inches behind a layer of soft acoustic fabric, so that the material catches the light as large circles. Unlike the cold plastic materials typically used in technological products, the soft fabric feels inviting and warm to the touch. When the LEDs are off, they’re invisible behind the fabric and integrate seamlessly with the architecture.
The northern side of the lobby is lined with pockets of green wall, stacked wooden benches, and high table seating. Adding elements of biophilia not only supports employee wellness but also complements the natural wooden textures that contribute to an inviting atmosphere. Amidst the leaves of the green wall hang the glass cases of YouTube’s “Artifact Museum,” which displays memorabilia donated by famous YouTubers.
A series of floor “medallions” are spread throughout the lobby, encouraging visitors to interact with the digital installation. Each medallion bears a graphic that describes one of YouTube’s core values. Stepping on a medallion triggers a reaction on the digital wall. Activating multiple medallions in different combinations gets different responses, inviting visitors to work together on learn how the medallions function.
Much like YouTube’s online platform, the lobby is designed to foster creativity, exploration and discovery, all while celebrating the company’s content creators and employees alike. Its interactive features engage users to promote a share-worthy experience.
"Oh no, not another massive LED video wall—but wait, this is the lobby of YouTube! The nature of the user interface, coupled with the innovative blurring of the ‘pixels’ by setting them behind a translucent acoustic layer of fabric is a creative take on what might otherwise be both overwhelming and overly conventional."
"This artful representation of a digital content brand creates an inviting space and gives visitors a choice of experience; a concept that is core to their brand."
Media Objectives: Crystal Adams (art director); Noah Jeppson (lead designer); Shane Hendry, Martyna Ziemba-Martinez (designers)
Valerio Dewalt Train: William Turner (principal architect), Miles Stemper (lead architectural designer), Chandni Sheth (architectural designer)
Office of Things: Lane Rick, Can Bui (digital designers)