Founded in 1912, Perkins Coie is a Seattle-based international law firm notable for serving many of the world’s most innovative companies and industry leaders. Recognized as an AmLaw 50 firm, it is the largest law firm headquartered in the Pacific Northwest and has 20 offices across the United States and Asia. Since establishing its Chicago office 20 years ago, the firm has experienced tremendous momentum and success in the Midwest, leading to its move in late 2021 to the Bank of America tower at 110 N Wacker. To accommodate its more than 250 Chicago-based attorneys and staff, Perkins Coie entrusted the legal design expertise of world-class architecture, design, and strategy firm NELSON Worldwide for its new office.
NELSON’S designers collaborated with the firm’s local leadership to align on key design goals and objectives for the all-new workplace that spans three-and-a-half floors. The team collectively decided that they wanted the new space to shed light on individuality, diversity and inclusion, and the community. At Perkins Coie, a uniquely strong team culture and commitment to their clients and the Chicago community were monumental in the design scheme. Considering that community-centered aspect, NELSON incorporated a large upfront conference center on each floor that easily transforms for different events. Each conference room is equipped with a hospitality center for drinks and small bites, making it easy for staff to set up for events as needed. Satisfying individuality, the design team worked in various break-out zones that give employees autonomy to choose and control their workspaces.
Despite moving to a new space, there were color and design stories from the previous office that heavily resonated with the staff. The team was most fond of the timeless design orientation. To bring life to some of those older elements that the team was most familiar with, NELSON incorporated dark and softer tones of wood—specifically oak and deep browns. Today, all three floors embody a crisp and clean design that radiates modernity and luxe design.
Perkins Coie engaged NELSON on environmental graphics to celebrate connections to the local community. For instance, the stairwells are carpeted and include a large black and white graphic signage that is synonymous with the ‘L’ train system. Art from local diverse artists is carefully curated throughout the office highlighting the richness of talent and diversity in the city. The use of glass walls at offices and meeting spaces demonstrates the sense of connection and transparency of the organization. The biggest differentiator is the natural light coming in and the “crispness” that it brings because of the cleanliness in the design, as well as the color palette. Playing upon the strong connection to Chicago, the office includes floor-to-ceiling windows with striking views of Lake Michigan—an important placemaker and moment of pride for staff and visitors.
Staying in line with their vision to have an open and engaging work environment, all offices are within the interior of the floor plan, and there are no corner offices. Doing so allows more opportunities for collaboration and break-out spaces on the exterior with views of the Chicago cityscape and lake views. A large cafe and lounge flood with natural light offers spaces for communal lunches, brainstorms, and events.
Through NELSON’s legal design expertise, Perkins Coie’s move to 110 N Wacker embodies its continued growth and commitment to serving the Chicago market. With a new first-class, state-of-the-art office, Perkins Coie is prepared to meet the demands of the modern workforce and its ever-evolving expectations.