Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From The Archives; Creative Workplaces In The Madison Area

I'm a big proponent of creative design in regards to the workplace. No, it's not everything. But I would appreciate it if I were fortunate enough to work for a company that had creativity in mind when commissioning the building/workspace. Anything to make a job seem less like a job and more like super happy fun-time is OK with me.

A few years back I commented on (the lobby in) Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc. in Middleton after reading an article in the WSJ.

I once saw a piece on the new EPIC Systems Architect site/Company site/Art Installations/Voyager Hall & Epicenter Construction building in Verona on channel 5. Now I knew it was an expensive and expansive project, but I didn't know they had taken liberties with the conventional workplace design, as sampled in the photos below.

Top four photos courtesy of Pointy Kitty Studios.

Top two photos courtesy of 90 Degree Studios.

Top two photos courtesy of Sarah Best's Flickr page

Hallway photo courtesy of Glenn Loos-Austin's Flickr page

Is it safe to say that the EPIC Systems campus in Verona is the most architecturally creative building in the greater Madison area?
Sidenote; They've spared no expense in creating a "cool" work space, but I've heard that EPIC Systems is notorious for hiring recent green college grads (a minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to work there) and turning them into corporate slaves with 60+hr work weeks. Not exactly super happy fun-time!

Are there others (on a smaller scale) that have taken risks in the aesthetics dept. which I am not aware of? Sonic Foundry? Raven Software?(I'd been in the lobby of Raven Software and while it had nice clean lines and game poster's on the walls, it was still 'just a lobby').
How about Full Compass' new headquarters?

Are there any buildings in the east side business park (or the east side in general) that are architecturally creative?
The corporate headquarters of Madison's largest privately-owned co., American Family Insurance, surely didn't seem so. I heard some employee's used to refer to it as a prison. Almost does look like a supermax from a distance. WPS also seemed fairly standard, although I hear the older buildings are the worst. The Virchow Krause (now Baker Tilly) headquarters certainly isn't anything special. The lunch room is different but nothing spectacular. And the window-seat stools are really uncomfortable.
One would not expect businesses like accounting and insurance to design their buildings with creativity in mind. But then again EPIC Systems designs software for the health care industry.
So what about IT and (educational) software? The EDS (now HP Enterprise Services) Bridge st. building (especially the lower level) is dismal. Douglas Stewart took some liberties with the new area for their marketing department, with a warehouse like feel and loud colors. That would be a good example of creative design not always being to everyone's liking.

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