NEW YORK, N.Y. – The global architecture and design firm Spacesmith has announced the completion of its third major project for MarketAxess [Nasdaq: MKTX], a strikingly modern new headquarters on three floors of 55 Hudson Yards in the New York City megadevelopment. Reflecting the innovation and stature of MarketAxess, a leading international financial technology company, the 83,000-square-foot workplace in Manhattan supports a major rebranding for the firm as it creates new, high-performance workplaces designed for open communication, collaborative interaction, and a launchpad for new product development.
“The new space provides for ultra-modern technology capabilities, as well as an open and relaxed feel with a contemporary aesthetic, which exemplifies the culture of the company. Spacesmith provided a splendid implementation of that company culture and vision into the design of the space,” stated Daniel Wolff, Global Head of Infrastructure for MarketAxess. Previously, Spacesmith designed the original Park Avenue headquarters as well as the London office of MarketAxess. Reflecting the award-winning architecture and interior design firm’s close relationship with the fintech leader, the design for the new U.S. headquarters on the 15th, 16th, and 17th floors of 55 Hudson Yards is integral to corporate strategy and growth planning, says Spacesmith principal Elisabeth Post-Marner, AIA, LEED AP.
Spacesmith and MarketAxess began with employee research, including online surveys and on-site observation, to inform the advanced workplace concepts deployed for helping to accelerate the company’s speed-to-market, one of its hallmarks.
“The offices and extended collaboration areas reflect the MarketAxess identity as a technology innovator that also has the business culture of a financial institution,” says Post-Marner, a principal and widely published expert in corporate workplaces and interiors, who led the project with Spacesmith architect and partner Michel Franck, AIA.
Guests entering the space will immediately experience the impressive three-story-tall wood and light wall sculpture along the floating staircase that connects each floor at reception. A signature feature of the headquarters, the self-supporting stair is wrapped with modern glass balustrades and guardrails, impressing visitors with views upstairs, demonstrating a sense of the workplace’s ample volume, while also unifying employees across all floors.
Other striking design elements include custom lighting fixtures, workstations, and carpeting and flooring patterns. Only about 10% of the new workspaces are enclosed offices, adds Post-Marner, maximizing open communications and interactions among the corporate, sales, and software teams that occupy the floors. The design also showcases sweeping views of Midtown’s skyline, the Hudson River, and the courtyard of the new Hudson Yards development.
Elements of the successful workplace concepts include informal collaboration areas — new shared pantries, cafés, and a lounge — which all serve as focal points on each floor. Key spaces are located centrally to encourage dialogue and interaction, says Franck, including support/service pantries on every floor within the building’s core, maximizing use of available floor area. The team lounge, a central gathering spot on the middle of the three floors for easy reach by all staff members, offers panoramic views of the Hudson River.
Collaboration is everywhere throughout the three floors, ranging from a variety of enclosed conference rooms with full technology capability to huddle areas that accommodate two to six people, located directly adjacent to the workplace. These huddles, which Post-Marner calls an “extended workplace,” are essential to the success of the business given the highly collaborative nature of the work being done.
Project Background: MarketAxess Headquarters
MarketAxess is a financial technology firm that provides clients with new technological solutions and data analysis to shape the future of institutional credit markets and position their clients for success. Having designed their original headquarters in New York City as well as their London offices, Spacesmith was commissioned to design their new, 83,000-square-foot headquarters on three floors at 55 Hudson Yards. The directive for Spacesmith and the project team was to help rethink the corporate brand and workplace appeal and effectiveness. The key elements of the work included:
- The rebranding of respected global leader in financial technology with a background and deep connections with institutional investors, top banks, and other financial players. This informed a redefinition of the brand’s physical presence and identity with a new and different look.
- Creating a highly successful open-plan workplace and magnetic U.S. headquarters with extensive collaboration zones — an extended workplace -emphasizing informal meeting areas and successfully combining open-plan areas and meeting zones.
In this way, the workplace interiors project became an integral element of positioning MarketAxess for its continued leadership and growing technology presence in the banking and financial services sector.
Spacesmith, a leader in corporate architecture and workplace interiors, began the process using online surveys completed by the entire company to gain new insight into ways that work processes could advance and improve. The surveys and additional research — following on prior work by Spacesmith for MarketAxess a few years earlier — supported the valuable changes proposed to enhance the work environment. The surveys were also an opportunity to quantify the types and usage of meeting rooms in order to determine what collaboration opportunities could be added or modified to optimize workplace enjoyment and operational effectiveness.
The new headquarters occupy three floors, with the lowest, the 15th floor, designed for the main reception, boardroom, and administration areas including an executive suite for legal, finance, and human resources personnel. Other large conference rooms and a dividable training room are equipped with a breakout area and pantry. On the middle or 16th floor, the sales department enjoys varied offices and collaboration areas as well as a staff lounge and pantry. The top-level, the 17th floor, accommodates a range of specialists in the MarketAxess IT department, their workplaces designed specifically for the group’s unique needs.
Companywide, MarketAxess office areas primarily comprise open-plan bench desking. Spacesmith’s research indicated that an extended workplace of meeting rooms and huddle areas equipped with technology were needed to improve the collaborative nature of their staff’s work. In addition, social venues are provided -including a café where town hall meetings take place with the CEO and other leaders -adding to the sense of openness and a connected community, and also ensuring that regular communication occurs between the software, sales, and corporate divisions.
As a company that is renowned for its innovation and client-focused approach, Spacesmith developed a design theme of “futuristic technology”, reflecting the MarketAxess philosophy of agile development and immediate client response. Moving so quickly — as if it would make spaces and shapes fold or adapt — became a concept represented in subtle, discrete ways as well as in bold moves. In the company’s entry lobby, a three-story feature wall made of folded, asymmetric 8-foot panels of ash suggests the futuristic technology theme. Other design elements continue throughout the spaces, such as in thematic and custom designs for carpeting, lighting, and furnishings.
Key elements of the new headquarters for about 275 people extend across the three floors connected by an impressive, open central staircase, all designed to bolster open communication and collaboration — two of the top priorities identified by MarketAxess leadership and employees in their workplace research. Design highlights of the new workspace include:
- Floating Connecting Stair. A signature feature, the self-supporting stair is wrapped with glass balustrades and guardrails to create a central focus, allow views, and unify employees across all floors.
- Informal collaboration areas. New shared pantries and lounges serve as focal points on each floor, with the largest spaces located centrally to encourage dialogue and interaction.
- Café and lounge hub. Set on the middle floor, a large café/lounge with booths, tables, and banquette seating can function as additional meeting space and, even more important, a venue for town halls.
- Informal meeting rooms. Adjacent to the open-plan workspace, these glass-enclosed collaboration zones, or “huddles,” allow for impromptu meetings while maintaining a bright, open feel and long views to the surrounding city.
- A high-tech backbone. Electrical, information technology (IT), and mechanical services, such as air-conditioning, are designed for long-term flexibility, which facilitates expansion and conversion features in the workplace, as well as swappable hot-desking for team members.
Only about one of every 10 workspaces is an enclosed private office. Spacesmith’s design allows for adding enclosed offices, as needed, by converting smaller conference rooms into executive suites.
Most important, the new headquarters workplace design reinforce company culture and a rebranding effort essential to competing in today’s competitive markets for talented people, key customers, and the best ideas. These major selling points -undergirded with original research and best practices in fintech workplace design -offer value for both potential employees and clients.