Rapt Studio has designed the new workspace of cable company HBO, located in Seattle, Washington. Driven by a passion for content and technology, HBO Digital Products is charged with developing HBO’s new digital and interactive experiences and is responsible for such products as HBO GO and HBO NOW. To manage dramatic expansion in the Seattle area, HBO signed a lease for the top three floors of a new mid-rise building known as Hill7. They recognized this as an opportunity to develop a high-performance workspace that would support their main objective—reengineering entertainment.
Rapt Studio’s discovery process unpacked the heart, soul, and internal workings of HBO Digital Products, helping to identify their unique characteristics, their agile work process, potential optimization strategies, as well as the special Pacific Northwest flavor of the staff that work there. The result of this discovery process is a workspace that is highly responsive to and supportive of the teams, workflow, and culture that make up HBO Digital Products. Due to the nature of their work, the flexibility and adaptability of the space was paramount. The space had to support and inspire the agile process of the teams while allowing for constant change and reconfiguration of the teams’ size and mission.
A raised flooring system and mobile desking allow employees to effortlessly reconfigure their work areas depending on the tasks at hand. Writable wall surfaces and small touchdown areas provide space for the teams’ daily stand ups. Display walls break up the long, linear corridors and afford spaces for people to gather and discuss projects. In addition to the dedicated team spaces, each floor has a few unique amenities to encourage employees to use the prominent central stair and frequent other floors, fueling impromptu meetings and discussions with those outside of their immediate team. The ninth floor features the main reception and looks out over Seattle.
Filling out the rest of the floor is a demonstration lab to display and test HBO’s digital content on a myriad of devices, a lounge area for showcasing new product launches to press, and a screening room to fully immerse oneself in HBO content. Traveling up the stair to the tenth floor, one arrives at a coffee bar with lounge seating adjacent to library space, which provides a more contemplative and detached work environment. This level also includes the design studio, which uses mobile tables, project carts, and a workshop atmosphere to facilitate investigation, exploration, and ideation. At the top of the stair on the eleventh floor, there is a large break room and pantry with a variety of seating options to encourage a culture of community and togetherness.
The space doubles as an all-hands gathering area and has an adjacent game room complete with classic arcade machines. Finally, it was important for the project to feel unique to Seattle and celebrate the local culture. The aesthetic and material palette was inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s manufacturing and maritime history married to the high tech, high touch aspect of the HBO offering. Rope ceilings, exposed wood, and raw steel, as well as furnishings more geared toward a hospitality setting, are used throughout the space to bring a distinct sense of place without the use of cliché.
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