Photo Essay: Functional Adaptation

Jan. 1, 2008

Charged with leveraging the equity in an existing building, Callison adapted a former manufacturing facility into a dynamic new work environment for one Silicon Valley company.

By Robert Nieminen


Few places underscore the forces of change better than Silicon Valley. To meet the needs of shifting workforce demographics and the relocation of its corporate headquarters, Agilent Technologies turned to the architecture and design firm Callison to design its new global headquarters, located in Santa Clara, CA.

Built in 1968 as a manufacturing facility, the original campus benefited from mature landscaping, reflecting ponds, an extensive rooftop garden, and a simple palette of natural materials. Callison's approach retained the clean lines and simple palette of the original design while drawing upon the natural colors of the building exterior and extending these hues into the interior.

The goal was to create an engaging and dynamic environment while leveraging the existing equity in the design of the building with a number of features to open the space-to maximize natural light and give voice to the company's innovative, entrepreneurial culture. Light wood finishes, soft spice colors and the expansive use of glass were used to update and refresh the campus environment, resulting in a warm, California modern design that speaks to the heart of Agilent's culture.

Because of the vast building floor plates of the former manufacturing facility, improved circulation and wayfinding were important drivers in the project planning. A wide internal circulation artery known as Main Street was designed to link the five main buildings of the campus and provide improved internal organization and on-site services for employees. A glass-enclosed lantern stairwell in the center of the campus serves as the central axis to Main Street and connects the main public spaces with the roof-top garden.

To convert the buildings from manufacturing to office facilities-and to ensure an enhanced employee and customer experience-several modifications were made to bring natural light into the interior spaces. The replacement of concrete slabs with full-glass panels on the exterior façade and a 600-square-foot vaulted atrium in the office area draw in natural light and create a grand, light-filled arrival space. A 5,000-square-foot atrium capped by two pyramidal skylights was also added to the building that houses corporate functions. This space forms the interior gathering space for company activities.

The resulting consolidation of manufacturing, labs and executive offices at one location not only maximizes real estate holdings, but has helped foster a synergy across the company's core businesses.


Above (larger image) & Below (larger image): A 5,000-square-foot atrium in the building that houses corporate functions is capped by two pyramidal skylights and now forms the interior gathering space for company activities.
On-site services for employees include a large cafeteria (pictured), Starbucks, a credit union, an expanded fitness center, a large conference and training center, the company store, a marketing and demonstration lab, and access to the roof-top garden. larger image

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