work

Multiple functions.
Agile thinking.

Skype’s primary goal was to create a world-class office that would differentiate them from their Bay Area competitors in the recruitment of talent. Their new space not only had to be a design statement that reflected their modern but fun personality, but it also had to meet very specific acoustic requirements to support the company’s extensive use of AV.

Skype hired Blitz to design their new North American headquarters on an aggressive budget and schedule. To really understand how Skype operates culturally, Blitz undertook extensive user-group surveying, and researched workspace typology before ever laying pen to paper.

SKYPE

LOCATION
palo alto, california
SIZE
54,000 SF
SCOPE
architecture
interior design
furniture design
lighting design
environmental graphics
AWARD
LEED silver certification

A significant portion of Skype’s culture is built around Scrum development (iterative idea generation) and a philosophy called ‘Agile Thinking’ (the effect of environment on thought process).

To support Scrum, Blitz designed a system of mobile white boards, called Skype-its, that are distributed throughout the project. They can be easily moved and stored depending on a development teamʼs process and requirements. Blitz also created a multitude of different environments to support different thought processes. All of the casual meeting areas are unique and there are three distinct phone booth types: light and bright for active thought; medium colored for meditative thought; and dark cave-like rooms for introspective thought.

Since Blitz believes that people, not conference rooms, deserve natural light, the architects took advantage of the exterior windows and located all workstations at the building perimeter.

Blitz worked its way back to the middle by degree of noise and distraction, with the noisiest functions being at the middle of the space (collaboration). Meeting rooms and phone booths were prioritized as no member of staff had a private office (an open floor plan with a benching workstation system was implemented). Contemplation spaces were interspersed in the form of overlapping casual lounges.

With such large floor plates it was important for users to be able to orient themselves. The project is organized along a central highway with various nodal meeting spaces to convey a sense of location, while also encouraging workers to literally meet-in-the-middle.

The pods house the meeting and collaboration function and require a very high level of acoustic attenuation (far exceeding typical TI construction). To achieve the aesthetic of a floating pod (the pods are self-supporting) and achieve Skypeʼs acoustical requirements, Blitz had to develop a unique building typology. The architects utilized a structural roof deck, commonly used in large span construction, that provided them with the structural diaphragm over the pods, provided a high level of acoustic attenuation, and also functioned as the finished ceiling. This multi-function quality was a key focus throughout the project—one item fulfilling multiple functions.

With a tight budget, Blitz had to be creative and use simple, ordinary materials in new and creative ways. In the chill-out area, we clad one wall with astroturf, and another with industrial felt. These coverings function as sound attenuation and finish materials, but also afford a little whimsy. At the Skype-it niches, the architects used common 3/4” birch plywood and sized the niches to fit standard material modules. The plywood provides a high STC rating and is also the finish material. The Board Room is clad in wine flavor sticks, found at a salvage yard. These provide a unique finish to this particular pod and subtly celebrate California—an important program element for Skype.

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Skype Headquarters

Project Details +

Project Details -

LOCATION

palo alto, california

SIZE

54,000 SF

SCOPE

architecture
interior design
furniture design
lighting design
environmental graphics

AWARD
LEED silver certification

Skype’s primary goal was to create a world-class office that would differentiate them from their Bay Area competitors in the recruitment of talent. Their new space not only had to be a design statement that reflected their modern but fun personality, but it also had to meet very specific acoustic requirements to support the company’s extensive use of AV.

Skype hired Blitz to design their new North American headquarters on an aggressive budget and schedule. To really understand how Skype operates culturally, Blitz undertook extensive user-group surveying, and researched workspace typology before ever laying pen to paper.

A significant portion of Skype’s culture is built around Scrum development (iterative idea generation) and a philosophy called "Agile Thinking" (the effect of environment on thought process).

To support Scrum, Blitz designed a system of mobile white boards, called Skype-its, that are distributed throughout the project. They can be easily moved and stored depending on a development teamʼs process and requirements. Blitz also created a multitude of different environments to support different thought processes. All of the casual meeting areas are unique and there are three distinct phone booth types: light and bright for active thought; medium colored for meditative thought; and dark cave-like rooms for introspective thought.

Since Blitz believes that people, not conference rooms, deserve natural light, the architects took advantage of the exterior windows and located all workstations at the building perimeter.

Blitz worked its way back to the middle by degree of noise and distraction, with the noisiest functions being at the middle of the space (collaboration). Meeting rooms and phone booths were prioritized as no member of staff had a private office (an open floor plan with a benching workstation system was implemented). Contemplation spaces were interspersed in the form of overlapping casual lounges.

With such large floor plates it was important for users to be able to orient themselves. The project is organized along a central highway with various nodal meeting spaces to convey a sense of location, while also encouraging workers to literally meet-in-the-middle.

The pods house the meeting and collaboration function and require a very high level of acoustic attenuation (far exceeding typical TI construction). To achieve the aesthetic of a floating pod (the pods are self-supporting) and achieve Skypeʼs acoustical requirements, Blitz had to develop a unique building typology. The architects utilized a structural roof deck, commonly used in large span construction, that provided them with the structural diaphragm over the pods, provided a high level of acoustic attenuation, and also functioned as the finished ceiling. This multi-function quality was a key focus throughout the project—one item fulfilling multiple functions.

With a tight budget, Blitz had to be creative and use simple, ordinary materials in new and creative ways. In the chill-out area, we clad one wall with astroturf, and another with industrial felt. These coverings function as sound attenuation and finish materials, but also afford a little whimsy. At the Skype-it niches, the architects used common 3/4” birch plywood and sized the niches to fit standard material modules. The plywood provides a high STC rating and is also the finish material. The Board Room is clad in wine flavor sticks, found at a salvage yard. These provide a unique finish to this particular pod and subtly celebrate California—an important program element for Skype.

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SF

415.525.9179

435 JACKSON STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111

LA

310.343.5856

2633 FAIRFAX AVENUE

CULVER CITY, CA 90232

DENVER

720.370.1618

1800 WAZEE STREET, SUITE 363
DENVER, CO 80202

© 2020 BLITZ

SF

415.525.9179

435 JACKSON STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111

LA

310.343.5856

2633 FAIRFAX AVENUE

CULVER CITY, CA 90232

DENVER

720.370.1618

1800 WAZEE STREET, SUITE 363

DENVER, CO 80202

© 2020 BLITZ