The future of office — how architecture controls how innovative we are

FIX leads a two-year research project, studying the most creative and innovative organizations in US from Burning Man to Google.

A new architecture for a new economy
Every great technological invention has produced a corresponding architectural response, shaping how and where we work.  The steam engine created the power house.  Assembly line manufacturing created the long-span warehouse.  But as the knowledge and internet economies have grown, innovation has become the goal of architecture as much as it’s been influenced by it.  Companies are designing spaces to stimulate creativity and productivity as a competitive advantage with the understanding that the pressure to invent is critical to longevity and sustainability.  Between 1960 and 2014, the average company lifespan dropped from 56 years to 15 largely because of the pace of competitive disruptive innovation.  By 2024, nearly half of Fortune 500 companies will likely no longer exist.  So the company that can create an environment which consistently increase their organization’s creative quotient wins.

We are in a new economy that demands a new architecture.

In 2009, Forest City Realty Trust contracted FIX to design and lead a two-year research project to understand how the office market is changing in this new context with the goal of having a competitive advantage of its own when developing commercial real estate.  The research focused on identifying the physical designs that lead to more creative output and innovation within companies.  We interviewed, shadowed, and observed people and spaces within over 75 companies throughout Silicon Valley and every major west coast city from start-up to blue-chip, tech to service, garage to billion dollar corporate campus.  Organizations included Pixar, Google, Microsoft, New York Times, UC Berkeley, The HUB, TechShop, Burning Man, and Cisco as well as leading authors, psychologists and behavioral economists studying innovation.  The results of the work have been used as the underlying strategy for acres of office redevelopment for Forest City, including the 5M Project and Pier 70, each billion dollar projects.  Download our brief primer on the findings.

FIX’s Role
FIX designed and led this research study for Forest City.  FIX has worked with Forest City Realty Trust throughout the west coast.  See our other project posts, including the 5M Project, Pier 70, and Seattle workforce housing research.

ClientForest City
LocationMulti-city west coast market research
ProgramLarge scale urban office development
RoleMarket research
User-based ethnography
Visioning and facilitation
Project management
ImpactCapacity: Researching the conditions that stimulate consistent innovation for businesses of all scales.