As the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock has teamed up with global architecture firm Perkins&Will (its New York and Atlanta studios) to give their new office in Atlanta, Georgia, a bold makeover to support the company’s growing presence in the fintech space.
The investment management firm required a workplace that was both agile and flexible to support the firm’s expansion into the region. Presently, the new BlackRock Atlanta iHub in East Atlanta is home to a 400-strong workforce, with expectation to grow to 1000 employees in phase 2.
Located in the city’s sought-after Poncey-Highland neighbourhood, the 120,000 sq ft office is spread across two floors and will eventually expand to four floors as BlackRock continues its recruitment in Atlanta. Furthermore, the unique office design concept—which takes its inspiration from three core themes that capture the spirit of the city such as the porch, the festival and crossroads—ensures that the iHub is both global yet hyper-local.
The culture of the porch has long been a staple of U.S. southern culture and synonymous with American culture as apple pie. A symbol of where community meets privacy, to emulate this crossover between public and private space, Perkins&Will assigned every floor its own dedicated ‘porch’, each with a unique mural and individualised design expressions.
Employees are encouraged to take ownership over their porch, utilising the space as an open yet intimate environment to which they can invite employees from other floors, as well as host clients and guests.
BlackRock’s new offices are further positioned as a ‘crossroads’ where spontaneous idea exchanges are fostered throughout. The theme reflects Atlanta‘s role as a major transportation hub, home to the busiest airport in the U.S., as well as its rich locomotive history.
Finally, the design theme of ‘festival’ is captured through the introduction of spaces that encourage collaboration. Echoing Atlanta’s vibrant culture and history of large-scale festivals, the workplace’s design attributes were all conceptualised to inspire employees to connect over creative work.
“We’re extremely excited to deliver the new offices for BlackRock in Atlanta, a testament to its long-term investment in the city and its workforce,” says Brent Capron, interior design director of Perkins&Will’s New York studio.
“BlackRock’s organisational culture balances progression with legacy as one of the world’s most reputed financial organisations. We worked closely with the client to replicate this ethos throughout the design.”
Throughout the vibrant space, the designers have incorporated bold artworks, texture and collaborated with local makers to infuse the space with history and culture. For instance, Perkins&Will has worked with BlackRock’s art curator, Susan Frei Nathan, engaging local organisations and artists to introduce a local perspective into the space.
For one such mural, local artist Peter Ferrari was commissioned to create a frame and outline with employees invited to paint a small section each. This further cemented a sense of communal ownership over the new office. Elsewhere, reception areas feature rugs with their own unique origin story specific to Atlanta, and the designers have also engaged local guild, the Brown Sugar Stitchers to celebrate the city’s long history of quilters.
“It was crucial that outreach to local creators and artists be not only proactive but extremely thoughtful and representative of Atlanta‘s identity,” says Jeanette Kim, senior project designer at Perkins&Will’s New York studio. “Working closely with BlackRock’s art curator, we took that level of engagement one step further, resulting in design interventions that authentically represent the art and industry of the city.”
Images by Garret Rowland