When AMC Theatres’ Chief Executive Officer Gerry Lopez took over the company in 2009, he knew that there had to be a change in his office’s culture. Operating in a downtown Kansas City, Missouri, skyscraper on eight non-contiguous floors, he said his employees were not collaborating like they needed to be in order to push the movie viewing industry forward.
In 2013, AMC completed its new four-story, 135,000-square-foot world headquarters, designed by 360 Architecture, as the anchor tenant of the unassuming Park Place development, a new urbanist village in Leawood, Kansas. The contemporary yet contextual building is anything but understated. Outwardly, while the building adheres to the proportions of its immediate environs, it does serve as a landmark for the community. With the “picture frame” patio looking into both the new building and the adjacent mixed-use development, intelligent movie queues are repeated throughout the design to connect the employees and the public to the “experience of viewing movies.”
With a renewed focus on innovating the theater business, AMC wanted its headquarters—known as the Theatre Support Center—to encourage reinvention and test new ideas, products, and business lines. To accomplish this goal, 360 Architecture conducted an exhaustive programming study to create a road map of the needs within each department.
Evan Fox, 360 Architecture’s project architect, explained that in an early meeting, Lopez exclaimed, “We are not a movie company, we celebrate movies.” 360 Architecture took that to heart with subtle design interventions that harken back to old movie marquees and the experience of screening a movie. Functionally, the space seeks to create opportunities for interaction and collaboration so that employees can innovate the movie theater industry. “We wanted to create these chance encounters so that employees can get to know each other again,” said Fox.
The central stairway system creates a vertical circulation pathway through the entire space and includes places for impromptu meetings. Two of the three central stairways, from one to two and three to four, mimic the proportions of both the existing and new layout for AMC’s movie theaters. “Not only can AMC use these spaces for full staff meetings, but also to experiment with new seating arrangements,” said Fox.
While the first floor is more public in nature with a wellness center, bike storage and in-house bike share program, training room and a conference room, the remaining three stories include an open office concept. “Where you work isn’t necessarily where you sit anymore,” said Fox. Throughout the office there are team rooms, soft seating areas, and large conference rooms to encourage all types and sizes of collaboration. The “test kitchen” on the second floor doubles as the cafeteria and meeting space that is directly connected through folding doors to an outdoor patio complete with a “picture frame” view of Park Place and beyond to AMC’s Town Centre 20 theater. The cafeteria’s commercial kitchen doubles as a place to test new menu items and conduct focus groups on different food and beverage offerings.
Throughout the new structure, the AMC brand and mission is projected inward through movie inspired graphics, designed in house by 360 Architecture’s Studio Tilt, on 2 digital media walls made from a 6-by-6 grid of 55-inch televisions constantly streaming information and news about the company, as well as other cinema inspired wall coverings.
Fox said, “All of the goals AMC had for the project on day one are coming true. The staff is now hosting yoga classes in the training room and people who otherwise never knew each other and going to lunch together.”