The buildings of tomorrow need technology of tomorrow6 minutes
A look across the California tech landscape reveals a design trend: futuristic corporate headquarters that convey their owners’ brands. Apple built a major campus dubbed “the spaceship” in Cupertino. Inside there’s the “Steve Jobs Theater” with seats for 1,000, and floors organized into "pods" – open workspaces with customizable seating, according to architect Foster + Partners, which designed the campus.
To the north of the Apple HQ, the new Salesforce Tower rises a thousand and seventy feet into the air, making it the tallest building in San Francisco. Its upper floors host light shows such as “Day for Night,” an L.E.D. work by artist Jim Campbell.
Creating a center of attraction
Uber also chose San Francisco for a new corporate complex — a vertical city clustered into "neighborhoods," each with access to shared support and collaborative work zones. A see-through circulation spine called "the Commons,” features gathering spaces, and continual inspiration for creative workers, according to the project’s designers.
What’s most interesting about these architectural projects is how their designs capture the work happening inside. With a talent war rife in tech, corporate leaders are building offices to catalyze growth, give ideas room to blossom, and share the values of a corporate brand. They are also demanding attractive, engaging and productive workplaces.
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Tech changes work, and building design
Technology has shaped the way people work — thanks to things like Internet search, email and collaboration tools, such as Yammer, Teams and GoToMeeting, as well as projection equipment, professional displays and cameras. This visual equipment can be used to bring remote colleagues together, collaborating and sharing their idea in real-time.
A look inside high-tech buildings shows how these innovations and others are impacting physical workplaces.
When Panasonic decided to build a North American HQ in Newark, NJ, it collaborated with architecture and design firm HLW to analyze the way its employees currently worked, wanted to work, and how they would work in the future. That analysis shaped the building’s design. Today Panasonic’s HQ serves as a tech showcase that encourages collaboration and promotes sustainability.
The first newly built office tower in Newark, NJ to earn both Platinum and Gold LEED certifications, Panasonic welcomes people to an Innovation Center that serves as a tool to educate guests on new, next-generation technology solutions. It is a dynamic, interactive space, that includes a future room with professional displays delivering storytelling experiences on the technology of tomorrow. It hosts vignettes using advanced projection and display technologies boasting exceptional color, high brightness and crisp, clear images. The 12-story building has more than a dozen different kinds of meeting spaces, consisting of huddle rooms and mid-to-large conference spaces – equipped with the latest communication and visual equipment.
As the corporate offices of Panasonic, Apple, Salesforce and others show, today’s buildings are being planned and designed with cutting-edge technology to support the way people are working today — and tomorrow. Consultants, architects and designers understand the planning and construction demands of buildings, from educational institutions to corporate offices, museums and large-scale entertainment venues change fast and often.
Bringing tech experts into the design mix
With technology being an integral part of building design, it makes sense that the people envisioning and planning the buildings are now turning to technology experts early in the design process. These experts bring a range of experiences and skills.
Information technology is critical. On university campuses for example, the IT team had been considered behind-the-scenes when it came to what was happening in the classroom. Now IT is consulted upfront, as it’s understood this expertise is at the core of how students learn. As a result, an entire room could be centered around using laser projection technology, interactive displays, flexible camera equipment or easy-to-move enhanced audio — whatever the active learning environment requires.
Considering the humanness of the space
Whether designed for learning, working or both, venues enabling collaboration are critical. Floor plans that foster face-to-face communication and idea sharing are one way to inspire collaboration. Video conferencing technology that supports the sharing of computer screens, and virtual whiteboards are examples of innovations that bring people together.
The spaces using these technologies must be purpose built. It’s not unusual today for consultants, architects, and designers to be asked that the spaces they create foster a sense of community. Engaging, immersive experiences are one way that technology goes beyond the spoken word to evoke emotions, imprint memories, and create shared moments for groups of people — the foundation of community building. Panasonic bridges the digital and physical world with technologies that deliver collaborative and engaging experiences.
Being well-versed in the many faces of technology
Knowing how technology will be consumed in a space is pivotal to the design process. Will it primarily be used for collaboration? For research or production? Or perhaps a display and showcasing tool? In any given space, technology could be consumed in one or all three capacities. And some technology, like video walls, can multi-task and deliver on multiple touchpoints. It can be a tool for collaboration, as it is at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where a state-of-the-art video wall brings students together in their newly imagined Science Corridor.
Or it can be used to deliver information crucial for product development, as it does for alternative energy pioneers, Tampa Electric. A video wall can also showcase product images and be used as a display tool that inspires and informs. Either planning for a diverse selection of technology or investing in technology with diverse uses increases the likelihood of adaptability as the needs of end users evolve.
No one knows what technologies will emerge tomorrow but in recent research conducted by Panasonic of some 400 tech decision makers across more than a dozen industries including building & construction, results were clear. Early adoption of disruptive technology is seen as less risky than waiting. In the study, there was near consensus that adopting disruptive technology has become the price of doing business and staying in business. As with most industries in our surveys, the majority of respondents in Building & Construction have already adopted Mobile Devices, Apps and Commerce, the Cloud and Internet of Things. Clearly, those consultants, architects, and designers working in building and construction who use their knowledge of advanced audio-visual innovation and other emerging technologies to incorporate reliable and easy-to-integrate solutions prove their expert status in the field as their buildings stand the test of time.