Deep Think

In cities today, people seem to work anywhere and everywhere. For knowledge workers untethered from a factory and even from their desks, a chair and Wi-Fi are the only necessities. A park bench, cafe, or bus will suffice. Where does this leave architecture, if the office building and the office itself are in decline? In downtown Los Angeles in 2015, for example, the office vacancy rate was over 18%, a couple of points above the national average. Until the arrival of the immense, mixed-use Wilshire Grand Center in 2016, no office tower had been built in downtown for twenty years.

Although the office building is hardly extinct, its architecture has been almost mind-numbing in its formulaic approach to design. Over the past five years, cityLAB has partnered with a wide range of organizations that are interested in new alternatives for office design. That research is documented here, along with new design proposals that demonstrate a range of architectural alternatives to conventional office design. These are not meant as definitive or singular solutions, but as conceptual
strategies that offer new directions based on enhancing technologies that are either currently available or in beta stage.

In particular, the demand for "Deep Think" space among a sea of conventional offices spaces, was voiced by one of cityLAB research partners, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. As its workforce continues to grow, management has been forced to consider ways to strike a balance between increasing productivity and collaboration while reducing the office footprint.

Six proposals were put together by design partners in collaboration with cityLAB from around the city--including AN.ONYMOUS (Marta Nowak), REMAP (Jeff Burke and Randy Illum), and Guvenc Özel-- respond to JPL's need for "Deep Think" space.

Productivity: Marta Nowak/AN-ONYMOUS Studio

Zero Gravity Collaboration Space: Marta Nowak/AN-ONYMOUS Studio

Robotic Stonehenge: Guvenc Özel

E-Veil: Guvenc Özel

Terraforming JPL: The Escape Yurt Jeff Burke & Randy Illum/REMAP

Light Boxes: Revisiting the Cubicle : Jeff Burke & Randy Illum/REMAP

Studies of Human form in Office: Marta Nowak/AN-ONYMOUS Studio