Free-floating pods add intimateness to MullenLowe’s headquarters

WINSTON-SALEM – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While the maxim may not normally fly in the volatile world of advertising, New York-based TPG Architecture stuck with the building’s existing structure for ad agency MullenLowe’s Winston-Salem headquarters.

Built in the 1930s, the former tobacco factory offered the raw bones for TPG’s intention: to respect and celebrate what was already there, and to leave the walls and ceiling untouched by using free-floating forms. These rectangular boxes slot between columns, providing intimateness in the 3500 sq-m space. Elsewhere, perforated metal screens maintain openness and lightness, while doubling as magnetic notice boards.

Columns and beams called for minimal meddling, bearing the accumulation of almost a century of layered paint. Albeit unintentional, the resulting palette provided the colour inspiration for some of the office seating.

Working across multiple disciplines on numerous projects, the staff at MullenLowe required a flexible workplace – adaptable enough that it can also host events for the likes of the local Arts Council. TPG split the floor plan into ‘neighbourhoods’, incorporating such collaborative spaces as conference rooms, photo and recording studios and a media-screening room with stadium seating.

Photos Eric Laignel

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