Sometimes we work in offices. Sometimes we work remotely. Sometimes we work at WeWork. The media, technology, and startup disruption dominating contemporary business has questioned the rigid structure of established office cultures, but this shift has yet to discover a corresponding spatial response to the shortcomings of the open office plan.
This lack of definition of the workspace is manifest in both new constructions and renovations. In the first, buildings like the Apple Infinite Loop Campus employ a totalizing and relentless design but foster only generic identities of the companies housed within. In the second, coworking spaces like WeWork amount to formulaic interior fit-outs with little spatial invention, reducing architecture to the scale of furniture. These recent developments fail to calibrate exterior form with interior organization and risk surrendering to the banality of the open office plans they were supposed to replace. Can the contemporary office express a company’s unique visual identity through form simultaneously tied to a range of different workspaces within?
This thesis proposes an intervention on eight existing “finger buildings” in Brooklyn’s Industry City by “cutting and folding” the buildings back onto themselves. This operation transforms the hypergeneric open office plans into a number of specific workspaces. Situated somewhere between new construction and renovation, the proposal imagines a new office space that can both house and signify a diversity of spaces. By turning a singular duck, in Robert Venturi’s terms, into many ducks, such an architecture rejects the monotony of the contemporary office and proposes a new direction forward for work in the 21st century.