“Workplace” — Office Design Before Covid

R/GA founder Bob Greenberg

R/GA founder Bob Greenberg had no idea then that just four years later COVID would become the pandemic few foresaw coming and that no one had a plan for.

R/GA Documentary Ambushed by COVID

Documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit’s examination of global agency R/GA’s decision to consolidate their New York City headquarters in Workplace couldn’t have been more prescient. Released in 2016, the movie explores the creative push that resulted in the open concept, two-floored new home to hundreds, in the world before Covid.

Hustwit’s reputation for delivering award-winning quality insight into the intersections of design and type with culture and society is unique. Workplace joins Objectified, Rams, Urbanized, and Helvetica in shedding considerable light on how our immediate environment influences our shared experiences.

Until there’s a real social or political revolution, the office will be a feature of global capitalism for a long time to come.

Is #WFH a Permanent Address?

In Workplace, Hustwit examines the thinking behind R/GA founder Bob Greenberg’s ideas for a unified office atmosphere that can physically drive creative inspiration, the agency’s lifeblood. The architectural firm Foster + Partners is tasked with delivering a functional concept that solves both the physical and psychological needs of one of the world’s top digital agencies that showcases technology and fosters collaboration.

Along the way, you’re introduced to euphemisms like huddle rooms and floor plate, as Hustwit covers the journey from existing quarters to imagined outcome through move-in day.

The film begins by looking at R/GA’s origins, which over time spread out to encompass multiple offices in separate buildings on opposite sides of the street. The obvious solution was to gather the talent in one all encompassing location, a space designed to spark inspiration. That included a number of small multi-use rooms to serve as getaways from the shared activity of the otherwise open design.

Masks Are the New Normal

What no one saw coming was a global pandemic, one that would demand a total rethinking of shared office environments. It may take years before enough research, vaccine, and therapeutics are available to say with any authority what is and isn’t safe in terms of behavior and environment. Until then, the Workplace space will be a mixed jumble of masks, sanitizers, partitions, ventilation modifications, and work from home.

View Workplace for free on vimeo.