The Cooper Union
School of Architecture


This design of an interior office project for <kpe>, an entertainment-related web design and venture capital firm, is located on the 19th floor of a building in Westwood, Los Angeles. <kpe> wanted an open, flexible work environment where individual departments were not isolated from each other and where the variety of operations within the company (ie. design, programming, financing, hardware assembly, and management) could coexist in a heterogeneous environment. The integrated work process necessitated as much communal space as possible, with differently sized rooms and vestigial spaces for formal and informal meetings, as well as accommodations for fluctuating team sizes. The building offered floor-to-ceiling glazing along the exterior walls incorporating impressive 300-ft. long views of the Pacific ocean and Santa Monica mountains.

The design strategy takes full advantage of these qualities. The drama of the views is fully accessible by virtue of a perimeter “promenade” which affords informal meeting areas with intimate spaces for personal reflection or one-on-one conversations as well as mid-size group interactions . Along this walk, the city views, work stations, communal circulation, and communal seating are negotiated in a language of rhythm, geometry, and variation, providing an expansive openness as well as sense of location. The promenade forms a strong link between the western corners of the building, each articulated as a conference room by steel and patterned glass walls. The remaining corners are also used communally, as smaller meeting rooms and cafe/lounge.

The potential oppression of the low ceiling slab is overcome by painting all structural and mechanical elements dark blue, and suspending aluminum ceiling panels in a subtly arced and angled rhythm, allowing the subconscious to sense a much lighter, higher canopy. This sea of reflective “scales”, whose varying angles refract light differently according to viewpoint and time of day also provide a visual “moire effect”.

The area lighting is generated from industrial uplights built into the work stations to flood the aluminum ceiling panels above. The work stations are distributed with the intention of providing a “filtering” effect, where each station is adjacent to as many others as possible. Boundaries between groups are blurred, multiple communication options opened, and the sense of whole is increased.

Visiting Professor, Adjunct Faculty