What if Offices Were Designed Like Hotels?

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-11-16 Print this article Print

What's not to love about a hotel? You walk into an expansive lobby, often awash in sunlight from the skylight above, furniture is arranged in informal clusters across the arena-like space, some more secluded in a corner, others right in the middle of the buzz. People are everywhere and there is a delightful buzz of activity.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's typically a much-needed vacation--and not the daily grind--that brings you to a hotel, so it is hard not to love. But what if your office building was more like a hotel? What if instead of toiling in a high-walled cube under buzzing fluorescent lights, your office park had a mini-spa, bookstore and twelve food venues?

This is the swank setup for Microsoft's Research division, which moved into the brand-new Building 99 on the software giant's Redmond campus this week, the first of seven new buildings on Microsoft's West Campus. The company's Entertainment and Devices Division will occupy four of the seven new buildings, planned for completion in April 2009.

"We're not just putting up buildings as we have before," Lou Gellos, corporate communications representing Microsoft's Real Estate and Facilities group, told eWEEK. "We're doing a lot of research into what works well based on what they're working on. Building 99 was put together to suit Research's needs and the way they work with one another, to create an atmosphere that is more conducive to what they do"

Hubs--the open spaces designed especially with impromptu meetings that occur throughout a workday in mind--are throughout the building. But what people really talk about is the sunlight.

"It used to be that only offices on the rims of buildings got sunlight, but now everyone does. The sun shines down onto all floors, and there was so much that when TV crews came this week for the press announcement, they didn't need to do any lighting," said Gellos.

Just like your office, right?

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