One of the major companies that has helped technology move forward, Microsoft Corporation, wanted to better connect with the high caliber, start-up talent coming out of the well-known East Coast technical universities. With such a strong West Coast presence, Microsoft decidedit was time to design an East Coast campus for its employees, customers, and potential new hires while also creating a physical connection point to the other coast.
On the first floor of Microsoft’s new Cambridge, Massachusetts Headquarters is the Conference Center, otherwise known as the "Collaboration Zone.” Microsoft wanted the entrance of their new East Coast headquarters to embody the creativity, ingenuity, and collaboration of their brand. Microsoft brought in TRO Jung/Brannen, an international architecture & interior design firm, to help design the interior of this space. TRO Jung/Brannen called in design experts, Schweppe Lighting Design, Inc. and Cosentini Associates, to help collaborate on this project. Working closely with Microsoft, the design team was able to get a thorough understanding of Microsoft’s needs and overall objectives for the new Conference Center space.
The center was going to have to accommodate multiple uses for this space. The result was four key areas: the formal meeting room; several informal break-out rooms that were more collaborative; two living rooms with smaller enclosed meeting areas; and lastly, a central cafe area for eating, entertaining, networking, and cocktail parties.
Melisa Marcotte, Interior Designer at TRO Jung/ Brannen and project lead explained, “Instead of using all the design funds up front, where they typically go, we wanted to create visual interest and carry the details and interest throughout the whole floor.” With an open floor space, the center of the room was reserved for the cafe areas so that visitors and employees would be likely to congregate. “Since the center of the space had to be special, we wanted to put some unique lighting element in the ceiling over tis space, but it had to be narrow,” stated D. Schweppe of D. Schweppe Lighting Design. The design team also wanted a lighting system that reflected the overall design elements of the project – new, modern, and energy-efficient. “We wanted a lighting product with which we could create geometric ripples that related back to nature – out to water, but not literally.” The White Plexineon Series was selected and was factory formed to exact specification to create a series of geometric patterns that provide a beautiful focal point in the room. While different technologies were considered for the project, the designers really wanted that feel of continuous light without breaks and simplicity in lighting, something that lent itself well to iLight’s white LED lighting system. In addition to ensuring the design was exactly right, it also had to be easily and properly installed. D. Schweppe ask iLight to create a full scale drawing so that the contractor would have a pattern and not deviate from the design. “If these lights were not made or installed precisely, the whole effect that we were trying to achieve could not be met,” stated Schweppe. With the cafe at the center of the space helping set the stage, TRO Jung Brannen applied a more residential, hospitality-type feel to the rest of the space. While no single element is overpowering to the overall design, each area has special details to create visual interest – from the innovative lighting in the cafe to the tangerine and avocado furniture accents – wherever you are in the space. Microsoft’s new Collaboration Zone has successfully connected all the elements to provide an environment worthwhile of Microsoft’s East Coast Headquarters.
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A New Connection for Microsoft