New neighborhood on Microsoft campus
It's fitting that Microsoft Research, the division that looks for what's next in computing and technology, should have a new headquarters...
Seattle Times technology reporter
It's fitting that Microsoft Research, the division that looks for what's next in computing and technology, should have a new headquarters that embodies what's next for the company's real-estate strategy.
Some 650 people will go to work Monday in Building 99, the newest addition to Microsoft's Redmond campus. It's the first to be completed as part of a major, three-year expansion to ease crowding and update Microsoft's facilities.
And 99 is the first to be built under a design strategy that emphasizes space that is flexible, customized and encourages collaboration. Building 37, a virtual clone of 99, is on track for completion in March.
Architect Rick Phillippe, who is leading the Microsoft project for Callison Architecture, compared Building 99, the new headquarters of Microsoft Research in Redmond, to a village.
The center atrium — a cavernous four-story space bordered by open staircases and glass-walled conference rooms and topped with a glass ceiling — is like the village square, he said.
Common spaces such as the cafeteria, espresso bar and lecture halls spill into it. Events such as "all-hands meetings" will take place there. The space is equipped with a sound system and video projector for presentations.
The offices, which spread out from the atrium, are like neighborhoods, Phillippe said: "As you get away from the center, the buzz quiets."
The new design strategy is being rolled out in all of Microsoft's new buildings, as well as many of its new leased spaces. Executives are still deciding how quickly they will retrofit existing buildings.
Building 99 still has lots of private offices — long a hallmark of Microsoft buildings — but the walls are glass and the doors slide open. The building is designed to adapt to its users.
Many of the coated glass walls can be moved, or written on like a white board, to configure spaces for different uses. Wiring and air-conditioning ducts are built into a raised floor so that when space is rearranged, adjusting the building systems is easier.
There are also lots of alcoves with comfortable chairs, informal meeting rooms and so-called "touch-down spaces" — unassigned work stations that anyone can use to check e-mail while waiting for a meeting, for example.
Chris Owens, Microsoft's real-estate head, said these features are more costly up front (he wouldn't say how much, or what the total price tag for the 250,000 square-foot building was), but will pay off through energy savings and employee productivity.
A 1 percent gain in employee productivity covers a 10 percent increase in construction costs, he said.
Outside, a 1,300-stall parking garage is running on Windows. A computer counts the cars entering and exiting the various floors. An electronic sign at the garage entrance notifies drivers which floors are full and which ones have space available.
Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The original version of this story misspelled Keith Waters' name.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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