See the entries that caught our editors’ eyes.
Each week through January 2021, we will be rolling out two of our Editors’ Picks from GRAY Awards 2020.
Editors’ Pick: Microsoft B40 + 41 Innovation Yard
By GRAY Editors
The plaza at the Microsoft B40 + 41 buildings in Redmond, Washington was designed by PLACE Architecture. Image by Jeff Caven.
Renowned for its original ‘campus in the woods’ design plan, the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington has evolved to become a world-class innovative workplace environment, and the company is constantly reimagining existing office buildings for a new generation of occupants.
Such was the case for the B40 + 41 buildings, which received a new outdoor plaza in 2018, designed by the Portland office of PLACE Architecture.
“Responding to evolving workplace strategies and leveraging stewardship of the modern eco-friendly campus, outdoor spaces [have] ascended to the forefront of a design as a new frontier for differentiation of the quality of corporate lifestyle,” the firm writes in its entry. “The key design considerations included scale of space, seasonal usability/weather protection, spatial legibility as well as capacity for connections and innovation while offering a platform for large events yet feeling intimate for daily use.”
Three multiuse pods dot the plaza, allowing employees to join together for meetings or lunch outside the office. Image by Aaron Locke.
The plaza, an elevated plinth of patterned linear pavers, is subtly carved away to become a connective and interactive centerpiece. It was built entirely over an existing parking structure and the reconstruction was based on exposing and strengthening the roof slab. The courtyard’s various features—a wood reclining seat edge, three pods that serve as flexible meeting rooms, seating for alfresco lunches—encourage employees to get out of the office and interact to better form community. A 120-foot-long glass canopy is lined on either side with mature multi-stem Katsura and Japanese Maple trees. The team approached the planting design holistically—proposing an updated palette to complement and edit campus vernacular and enhancing vegetation. New trees were selected for maturity and climate adaptation contributing to immediate coverage and a sense of permanence.
Our editors loved this project for its versatility and connectivity. They could see themselves having lunch at the cheery red tables and chairs or booking one of the pods for an issue planning meeting. The inclusion of a water feature, abundant native flora, and an architectural approach to many of the details stood out among the entries. The glass canopy especially was a standout… imagine walking under that in a Pacific Northwest downpour!
A 120-foot-long glass canopy can be seen behind the trees. Tables, benches, and fire features give employees various options for gathering. Image by Aaron Locke.
CATEGORY: Landscape Design: Civic, Residential
PROJECT: Microsoft B40 + 41 Innovation Yard
DATE OF COMPLETION: September 2018
LOCATION: Redmond, Washington, United States
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: Aaron Locke and Jeff Caven
Coughlin Porter Lundeen