Tag Archives: office design

Indeed.com Headquarters

Indeed.com is a data-driven company. Information, and the flow of information is the basis of what they do. Our goal was to find a way to represent this in architectural form — to create spaces that not only give the impression of a dynamic company that is highly connected and able to react to changes with great speed, but also to creatively represent the flows of data that form the core of the company.

We were able to meet these design challenges by creating public spaces that can change dramatically. The two-story lobby space is literally wrapped in huge screens that not only line the walls, but float overhead. These screens can create a multitude of immersive environments, from a calm forest, to a torrential data stream, depending on the mood and feeling desired. The screens flow from the lobby into the café, dining area, and work areas, linking the public and private areas of the office. The graphics are reemphasized in the reflections of the glass railings, walls and storefronts.

Architect: Specht Architects in collaboration with Spector Group & STG Design
Contractor: Novo Construction
Photography: Andrea Calo and Casey Dunn

The Mall Conversion

The Galleria, an upscale mall built in the Old Town district of Scottsdale, opened in 1991 to great fanfare, but struggled from the start and within a few years had closed its doors. It was empty for many years until it was eventually rebranded as a tech-oriented office facility. One space within the mall, however, remained a tough sell: an unusual bridge-like appendage that had housed a branch of the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking Academy. It had a long, narrow configuration and unusual window placements that made it difficult to easily convert to other uses.


We love the challenge of taking a hard-to-repurpose structure or parcel of land, and figuring out how to make it work. In this case, we converted this very odd “dead mall” space into to a vibrant new office facility for indeed.com. The varying qualities of light within the old mall allowed us to craft a procession through a series of work and recreation areas that each have distinct character and range from bright and sunny to shaded and relaxing.


New materials and forms chosen for the office reflect the local environment of Scottsdale. But the history of the mall wasn’t completely eliminated. Old and new are integrated into something vital and fresh. Rusted steel, terra-cotta plaster, and wood elements blend with the sage green 1990’s-era window and skylight frames forming a seamless whole. This is not a space that has the feeling of a retrofit or reluctant re-use, but dynamically embraces and celebrates its unusual nature.


Architect: Specht Architects in collaboration with Corgan Architects
Contractor: Novo Construction
Photographer: Corgan Architects


The offices for Barker, an advertising and marketing firm based in lower Manhattan, are located in what was once the attic and elevator rooms of a 1920’s era skyscraper near Wall Street. The primary design intent was to open up this dim and somewhat claustrophobic space, and create a light-filled work center that emphasizes communal problem solving and creativity.

We expanded the space by clearing out all existing walls, and cutting a large opening in the floor of the former attic space. This is a rare type of modification in an older tall building, and took a good bit of engineering to make it work. We then crafted a winding, sculptural stair that forms the centerpiece of the office. It links the main lobby below to the group work and dining areas above.

Architect: Specht Harpman

Concrete Incorporated

The Starrett-Lehigh building (1931), a landmarked International Style building occupying a full city block on Manhattan’s far west side, is known for its enormous floor plates, continuous steel ribbon windows, and elevators large enough to accommodate freight cars. The building’s profile is dominated by a “crown” of water towers on the roof, well-known to travelers on the West Side Highway.

Concrete Incorporated, a young and growing media company, desired a new headquarters that maintained the industrial character of this building. We designed a series of curved shells to be installed within the space to form private, secluded work areas. These “think tanks,” allow natural light to penetrate deep into the space during the day, while transforming into glowing lanterns at night.

An elevated steel rail, inspired by those in the nearby meatpacking district, runs through the space and suspends light fixtures, lounge seating, and sliding cork pin-up boards. With this project, our firm looked to engage and extend the reading of the local industrial landscape.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Photography: Michael Moran

Oasis Advertising

The Oasis offices are located in an active manufacturing area. In the garment district, air-conditioning louvers commonly replace glass windows and signal the presence of sweatshops. In this project, we introduced louvers into the interior of the project. The louvers become operable privacy screens at the executive workstations and are used to create a custom, raked lighting fixture at the reception area.

We also designed custom pendant lights from air filters commonly found on large garment delivery trucks. In this installation, the pendant lights are used to delineate the main circulation routes and conference areas.

During the course of the project, we purchased a large job-lot of plastic ice cube trays from the local K-Mart and worked with a local fabricator to transform these trays into large fiberglass panels. The luminous blue panels provide a highly textured and colored entry looby and also create a recognizable path along the interior circulation route of the office.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Photography: Michael Moran

OXO International

Our design for the headquarters of OXO International was inspired by the rugged yet comfortable functionality of the company’s products.

Raw cork, cement board, finished maple, and sheet steel are the materials that form this warm and durable work environment. Light fixtures and shelving units were made with simple off-the-shelf parts, and existing surfaces, such as the industrial wood flooring and brick perimeter wall were left exposed.

OXO’s “Good Grips” line of housewares is prominently featured at the entry to the space. A custom display wall is fitted with operable shelves that can be configured to allow for a variety of presentation possibilities. Translucent panels at the back of the shelves allow glimpses of the products from within an adjacent conference room.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Photography: Michael Moran

Ironwood Real Estate

Located within a historic 1913 warehouse, this office space for an Austin-based real estate company is comfortable and warm, while highlighting the interesting concrete structure of the original building. Created primarily of maple and glass, the intervention creates useful offices and workstations, while leaving the existing floor, ceiling, and heavy flared columns exposed.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Contractor: Rizzo Construction
Photography: Taggart Sorensen

San Jacinto Building

The original poured-in-place concrete warehouse in downtown Austin dates from the early 1900s and is a prime example of the type of building that once populated the neighborhood. Built alongside a once active railroad spur, the building was purchased from its original owner who had performed almost no alterations to the 1915 building. The original concrete frame and brick infill building had been in continuous use as an unconditioned storage space and suffered from what we call “benign neglect”—it hadn’t been upgraded, but it hadn’t been messed up, either.

The original three-level building was basically a concrete shell, without fire stairs, elevators, or any code-compliant utilities. The new owner desired to create three restaurant spaces on the ground floor, private club and storage spaces in the basement, and office spaces at the upper level. Our challenge was to provide all the amenities and services necessary for contemporary use, while retaining the character of the original warehouse building.

Rather than carving out a large portion of the interior of the existing building for stairs, elevators, mechanical shafts, restrooms, and other new items, we created a new “service structure” adjacent to the building. This not only allowed the unobstructed floor area to remain as large and flexible as possible, but also allowed us to create an expressive pavilion that marked entry to the building. The character of the new addition complements the raw, muscular functionalism of the original building while not attempting to replicate its details. It features open stairs, an articulated steel frame, and clerestory windows that allow light into the bathrooms and lobbies at the upper level.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Contractor: Rizzo Construction
Photography: Taggart Sorenson

Hurd Studios

We designed offices for Hurd Studios, a publications and media consulting company, within a landmarked building in Manhattan’s Soho district. The existing space was very small, and Hurd Studios space needs were large, so we employed a strategy of extreme efficiency—making every square foot count. Wall surfaces were not simply dividers between spaces, but were built out to the ceiling with files, shelving, lounge furniture, and many other functional items. Ductwork, pipes, and other utilities were exposed and woven in to the design as an integral part of the space. Offices were small, but designed with translucent panels and indirect lighting in order to make them feel large and comfortable.

The construction system was also unique, given the tight access and occupied floors below and above. A steel frame was assembled in the space, and pre-cut panels of wood, translucent fiberglass and other materials were inserted into the frame. The resulting space is warm and comfortable, while being functional and easily modifiable.

Creative use of common materials and the employment of non-typical trades, such as garment-rack welders to assemble the steel frames, allowed this complex and beautiful space to be realized within a very limited budget.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Photography: Michael Moran

Beast Productions

This project involved the renovation and adaptive re-use of an existing single-story brick building in downtown Austin, TX. The structure, built in the 1920s, housed a variety of tenants through the years–from a mom-and-pop grocery to leasing offices for new urban condos. The current owner, a film-production company, was on an extremely tight budget and wanted to re-use as much of what existed as possible, while creating something that was uniquely “Austin” in character.

We embraced this spirit of frugality, re-purposing, assemblage, and local sourcing, and used many unique strategies in the space.  Re-sawn siding from a demolished building became a wall and ceiling surfacing that gives a great deal of character to the common areas. Raw, stock steel segments from a local supplier were used to fabricate interior partitions, space dividers, and kitchen installations. Cement backer-board, a common and rough material that is usually used an an underlayment for tile, was applied as another surface treatment. Cheap off-the-shelf chandeliers were painted and installed for feature lighting. Many existing interior partitions and surfaces were re-worked and re-installed, saving money and allowing traces of the space’s colorful history to be a part of the new use.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Photographer: Taggart Sorensen