There is a popular universal belief that if you clear out your mind, creativity will rush in to fill it. Motorola appears to have taken this credo to heart in the creation of their new headquarters housed in the Chicago Merchandise Mart.
From the moment you walk into the front office, to the time you discover the river view lounge above, words like “wow,” “amazing,” and “awesome” pop through your mind like fireworks along the way.
“We concentrated laying a foundation to inspire moments and experiences,” Stephen Monaco, Director of Global Real Estate, said. “The building is a blank canvas in which the employees can create their experience.”
In this temple of technology, everyone seems reverent, yet you can sense the crackle of buoyant energy bursting through the quiet demeanor. This is no ordinary workplace, this is a respite, an oasis from the churning bustle of the city below.
Sprawling over 604 thousand feet, the building includes seven mega labs connected by a maze of open congregation areas, flexible work spaces, lounges and micro-kitchens. There is a warmth felt in the architecture which is both modern and reminiscence in a way of the 1990’s grunge art – raw with a strange sense of refinement.
“We wanted to express an authentic and natural use of materials,” said Monaco. “For example, the staircase to the river view lounge is basically an unfinished Midwestern barn.”
The ceilings are open, with exposed racetracks of wire and ducts winding through the hallways. Each of the seven mega labs has a different “skin” ranging from wood to corrugated metal, all contributing to the natural continuity of the building.
Unanticipated pops of color greet you throughout the Motorola facility. Open the doorway to a stairwell and you’re greeted with a vibrant glow of light and graffiti artwork on the wall. The sensation is that of entering a nightclub rather than a simple conduit from one floor to the next.
Step into a micro-kitchens and you’ll find colorful depictions of Motorola history or a glowing ticker map of Chicago’s transit lines with current news parading along the surface. These areas are meant to fuel the body and the senses while providing an easy congregating spot for idea exchange.
The pinnacle of color and design is found in the river view lounge. An open air balcony where employees can head out for lunch, for meetings, or simply for a change of space. High above the city, the lounge offers stunning views of the Chicago River and downtown area. Far enough away from the general traffic noise, the rooftop has a quiet garden atmosphere, complete with plants and outdoor seating.
“The space dedicated to ‘me’ got smaller here,” said Monaco. “But the space dedicated to ‘we’ got larger.”
In addition to an invigorating, flexible work space, employees are treated to a full array of modern conveniences and additional perks such as shower rooms, mother’s rooms, a state-of-the-art arcade and game room, and a membership to the building’s fitness facility.
From ideas in architecture to huge ideas in cellular design, there is a fluidity crossing over seen in products like the new water-resistant Motorola Droid with energy-efficient battery life and the soon-to-be-released Motorola Moto 360 Smartwatch.
There is a sign in the Motorola office that showcases and celebrates the history of the company which includes the statement:
“We put music on the road, brought home messages from the moon,
and fit its infinite potential in the world’s pocket.”
After touring the Motorola facility, I’m inclined to add to this statement that they also managed to fit the same infinite potential within the walls of their corporate facility.