One of the world’s oldest and largest advertising agencies, JWT (formerly known as J. Walter Thompson) appointed CWA to design their New York headquarters in June 2004. Along with workplace strategists DEGW assisting with client visioning, and HOK New York providing executive architect services, the overall design goal was a creative, flexible and open architecture that facilitates the company’s physical transformation to reflect its revitalized business model and brand identity. JWT occupied 250,000 SF in 5 floors of the office building at 466 Lexington Ave. The floors were sequentially gutted, remodeled and reoccupied in four construction phases over three years, with final completion in February 2008. A dynamic construction schedule allows for rapid move-in while increasing project team efficiency in subsequent phases.
From inception, it emerged that JWT was reframing its core vision about how it engaged with the public. Advertising would no longer focus on projecting messages to the consumer, but creating experiences which rewarded the public’s time and attention. It’s mission had become ‘story telling’. The architectural concept became a thematic thread: we used the tree as a metaphor for storytelling and extended it as organizing form and connective tissue between the individual branches of the agency. This architectural expression is most dramatic on the lowest floor, level 2, which benefits from 18ft high ceilings. The entry atrium here stretches to 32 ft high with a concrete staircase winding through it. As circulation off the stairs flow into distinctive neighborhoods representing various departments within the agency, special landmarks such as meeting and conference rooms help create visual interest while facilitating way-finding.