In early 2005, Clive Wilkinson Architects and the workplace strategists DEGW were invited to conceive and design The Children’s Place’s West Coast headquarters. The Children’s Place had recently acquired The Disney Store company, and desired to relocate its operations from an office building in Glendale, California, to the historically significant Royal Laundry Building (a former laundry built in 1927) in downtown Pasadena, California.
The design solution for the 81,000 sq. ft. space evolved from the desire to create a functional yet playful environment that befits the Disney image. Equally significant was the company’s desire for an open, flexible and collaborative work environment for 230 employees. DEGW developed an organizational plan with Clive Wilkinson Architects, which was articulated with colorful modular and flexible systems that formed the architecture as well as the furniture.
The original building is wood framed and composed of three parts. The front portion is a 16’ high space with large timber trusses. The large rear portion is a double height wood framed Atrium space with a saw-tooth roof that results in dramatic clerestory lighting spanning the width of the space. These two portions are connected by a long interstitial brick walled structure, which inspired the creation of brick-like elements for the interior. These modular elements allude to the playful block building habits of children and remind the staff of their role in creating products for the world of children.
The integrity of the existing historical envelope was maintained by inserting strategic architectural objects in the space.
The two major portions of the building are anchored by two main conference rooms. The first, known as the “Block Conference Room” is formed on two sides by removable foam block walls. When these foam modules are disassembled for 200 person company-wide meetings, they become the seating system. On most days, they are vertically stacked in a brick pattern to form the walls for a 20 person meeting room. The red, orange, yellow and ochre color palette was inspired by the existing brick wall colors. This color palette is echoed in the modular Vitra Storage
Wall furniture system, which extends throughout the building.
The second main conference room, formed by a unique modular honeycomb structure, is located in the Atrium portion of the building. Originally conceived as a flexible means of managing the Disney sample product display, it became the centerpiece of the space. Approximately 500 modular honeycombs units, 24” wide by 17” deep and fabricated in
rotation-molded plastic, form a dramatic two-story open conference room. The organic configuration of the undulating honeycomb units capture the light from the clerestory windows creating a warm glow in the room as well as the surrounding space. This honeycomb system, designed for The Disney Store by Clive Wilkinson Architects, will be
launched by Quinze & Milan as a product for the commercial furniture market in 2007.
In addition to providing an internal landscaped courtyard and new skylights throughout, the building connects occupants to the exterior with a new landscaped courtyard at the front entrance, which includes an ivy topiary of ‘Mickey Mouse ears”. On most days the doors to the interior courtyard, which opens to the cafeteria, are left open bringing in fresh air and sunlight.
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