Large Office Winner

Project: Intelsat | Mclean VA

Firm: Gensler | Washington DC

Design Statement

Imagine a cluster of silos around a series of atriums. Such was the design of Intelsat’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. The building allocated 86 percent of its space to closed offices and hindered employee communication. Still it was held in fond regard by many in the company. However, Intelsat’s work style was changing. The satellite services company was becoming increasingly reliant on connections, mobility, and flexibility. Their space needed to follow suit. Intelsat made the bold move to leave behind the treasured building they owned and relocate to seven leased floors in a new 24-story office tower in nearby Tysons Corner, VA. There, our design team flipped the company’s open-to-closed ratio; 85 percent of Intelsat’s new space is now allocated to open plan to help staff better connect. A dramatic interconnecting stair ties together the workplace and effectively turns the environment into a vertical campus. To help tell Intelsat’s story, the team created a dynamic, high-contrast design language with allusions to one of satellite technology’s most important concepts—wave refraction. Throughout the space, you’ll find glossy black-lacquer walls many of which are embedded with zigzagging LEDs that speak to the deep black of space, starlight, and lines of communication across our planet. One of these lacquered walls amps up the drama with an expansive embedded video screen that displays the locations of Intelsat’s satellites. In the end, Intelsat’s new home is not just a more effective workplace; it is also a communication tool that celebrates this story.

We see carpet as more than just floor covering. We see it as a design tool that sets a tone, creates visual interest, provides a counterpoint, and brings a space together. Such was our mindset when selecting an array of Shaw Contract Group carpets for Intelsat’s new home. That home, with its glossy black-lacquered walls, was designed as a dramatic study in contrast. To offset the deep black found throughout the space, we needed a light backdrop. Shaw Contract Group’s Ambient carpet tile and Silence carpet tile proved to be the perfect choices. Not only did these give us the bold contrasts we were after, but the light and bright tones also allowed us to play up the daylight that washes through Intelsat’s workplace. Ambient tile’s pattern, with its subtle evocation of twinkling stars, was useful in helping us draw out the project’s allusions to space and satellites. In other areas of the project, such as selected conference rooms, we were after a dark, night-sky feeling. Shaw Contract Group’s Dye Lab Indigo carpet gave us just that with its deep twilight hues. Thanks to Shaw Contract Group, Intelsat’s new home now has an added layer of richness and depth, with a story that’s all the more compelling.

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