Hybrid offices the new benchmark for legal workplace design
Designing for an industry in transition requires creativity, collaboration and flexibility. So when creating global law firm Baker McKenzie’s new Barangaroo, Sydney, workplace, HASSELL developed a hybrid space that will serve the company now and into the future – and set a new benchmark for legal workplace design.
‘Offices’ without walls, traditional office spaces, non-allocated quiet rooms, breakout hubs and semi-open workstations – it’s the new normal for Baker McKenzie and a radically simple – yet new – approach for the legal industry. It’s a design that takes into consideration the changing nature of the practice of law, from a profession perceived to be stuck in the past to one that’s embracing technology and different ways of engaging with clients.
The firm now sits over three seamlessly connected floors, after occupying eight disconnected – and relatively small scale – floors at its previous address.
HASSELL Principal Domino Risch said equity of space was important for Baker Mackenzie. This led to the design of ‘open offices’ that are identical to enclosed ones – without all the walls. Lawyers can now choose from a variety of workspaces to suit them and their team’s needs.
“Baker McKenzie shows how a sensitive, hybrid (neither fully open or fully enclosed), functional and ultimately highly flexible workplace strategy can be achieved without sacrificing equity, daylight, views and diversity – all within a very strong architectural envelope, and with an eye to creating a place of lasting value, impact and beauty.”
The new workplace also represents the values of Baker McKenzie, which include a commitment to embracing diversity and bringing clients and staff closer together. Baker McKenzie Managing Partner, Australia, Anthony Foley said that the workplace has exceeded his expectations and that it has been transformative for their business.
“The design is a remarkably on-point distillation and physical expression of the business and organisational aspirations that Baker McKenzie had to bring clients closer, build relationships and encourage collaboration and connection for staff,” Anthony said.
A commissioned kinetic installation by artist Marion Borgelt hangs over the three-storey void that also contains the striking floating staircase, which connects the entire firm. Meeting spaces and breakout hubs across the three floors are accessed via the stairs, with guests and clients encouraged to use all levels. The nested, glazed meeting rooms echo the rounded form of the International Tower buildings, and a large cafe brings both staff and clients together for collaboration or social activities enlivened by panoramic views ranging from the Blue Mountains, across the city and beyond to the heads of Sydney Harbour.
Calder Consultants Founder James Calder, who led the development of the workplace strategy, said that it is arguably the best legal workplace anywhere in the world.
“It was a true collaboration between the absolute best people and organisations in the business of workplace design globally and this combined to create the finest representation of a real hybrid legal solution that I’ve ever been involved with.” James said.