New York City
Founded in 2006, New York City–based advertising firm Droga5 grew quickly and in ad-hoc fashion within three connected buildings in NoHo. “There was no organizational structure to their old space,” explained Robert Rogers, principal of architecture practice Rogers Partners, which designed Droga5’s new offices. “The departmentalization was determined by who got there first. The office culture thrived on that spontaneous environment.”
Droga5’s new location is in 120 Wall Street, a 34-story wedding cake style office building on the East River designed by Buchman & Kahn and completed in 1930. The firm occupies the 10th, 11th, and 12th floors, each of which are about 23,000 square feet in area, as well as the much smaller 33rd and 34th penthouse floors. In conceiving of how to transport the spontaneous environment of the aggressive startup to the more sedate surrounds of an old-guard Wall Street office building, Rogers Partners developed a constellation model, intentionally dispersing the firm’s departments throughout the floors and then connecting them in ways that promote random encounters.
The southeast corner of the 10th floor is occupied by a large kitchen—food is also a big part of Droga5’s culture—and lounge area with couches and coffee tables that serves as a breakout work space. An enclosed glass boardroom—where employee teams pitch their ideas to firm founder David Droga—floats above a grand stair that descends into the communal area from the 11th floor. When a large presentation screen is rolled down above the boardroom, the stairs become seating for company video screenings and presentations.
A charred cypress wood ceiling demarcates the grand stair and traces the circulation pathway through the 11th and 12th floors. “We wanted something with real materiality, not just a color,” said Rogers. “We wanted there to be more dimensions to the sensory experience. The wood has a slight aromatic quality.” Employees are encouraged to take the stairs rather than the elevators, and the architects positioned little nooks and crannies along the circulation pathway for private meetings.
Group work areas line the window banks, while the private glass offices are on the core, allowing the entire office to enjoy natural light. The ceiling was cleaned up, the soffit moved back and packed with the mechanical services, and a linear LED pendant up/down fixture hung low above the desks. Cork and glass enclosed “war rooms” punctuate the space, outfitted with white and black boards, video screens, and curtains for privacy. Where there are offices along the windows on the north and south facades, the architects partitioned them with a translucent polycarbonate system from Duo-Gard that transmits ample daylight.
The 33rd floor is a “retreat,” where teams can get away to buckle down and focus on a campaign. The 34th floor is the closing room, where clients are brought for the Big Pitch. To make this space more impressive, and highlight the views, the architects raised the floors so that you can look down on the East River from a seated position, and canted the walls inward, adding to the vertiginous experience.