Expensify, Portland

Designed by: ZGF Architects
For client: Expensify Floor area: 683.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: Small Office of the Year


Public Score
2.87
2.91 Function
2.83 Innovation
2.88 Creativity
10 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

Expensify employees have fully embraced the new office, and on any given day can be seen moving from one space to another, with device tucked under arm and often with a dog or two in tow.

About the Project

ZGF partnered with Expensify for an interior that reflects the tech company’s signature “choose-your-own-adventure” work setting. Location in the historic First National Bank Building in downtown Portland, Oregon, every space in the sky-lit four-story atrium, complete with classic columns, giant bank vaults, and Art Deco details, functions as the workplace. A variety of unassigned work spaces were designed so that employees can choose where to sit depending on their individual style, mood, and the task at hand.

Expensify’s space needs were carefully balanced with the historical importance of the building when designing a set of floating conference rooms located opposite and above the bank’s main entrance staircase by referencing the historic details and proportions. The staircase is flanked by two brass-clad, glass-enclosed work spaces, which are themselves topped with open crow’s nest perches that are functional work areas. Concepted as a treehouse, the idea is reinforced by a suspended chaise that hangs from one of the workspaces like a swing.

What’s unique about it

Expensify desired an eclectic mix of experiences and spaces in their new space and wanted it to be somewhere that employees wanted to spend their time. The tech company also sought to preserve the existing grandeur of the building. The design team seamlessly met these aspirations and goals with an approach that sought not to mimic, but to adapt and embellish, drawing from original elements but using contemporary detail. The resulting interventions complement, not compete with the existing historic context.
One of the best examples is in the multi-volume atrium space, where from the start the CEO desired something “special,” usable, and that connected the different levels. Programmatically, Expensify asked for a variety of meeting spaces, both open and enclosed. The treehouse concept, which was partially inspired by a discussion about one of Expensify’s annual offshoring trips to Cambodia, provided a solution where every square inch is used as program, including two brass-clad, glass-enclosed work spaces—which are topped with open crow’s nest perches that are functional work areas—and a suspended chaise where employees can complete individual or small group work.

09 Expensify Portland Office
© Garrett Rowland

An oak wood village, designed with forms reminiscent of Scandinavian building vernacular, offers community and individual seating for private calls and heads-down work.

08 Expensify Portland Office
© Garrett Rowland

The design takes cues from the existing building, incorporating traditional and natural materials in a contemporary way.

07 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

A speakeasy-style salon with mirror-clad walls is located through a set of hidden doors.

05 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

Every space in the soaring four-story atrium, complete with classic columns, giant bank vaults, original marble and gold leaf details functions as a workstation.

06 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

A kitchenette on the main floor uses materials such as leather and wood to create a vibe of sophistication and comfort.

04 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

The resulting design intervention in the open atrium space both connects the different levels, and provides a variety of meeting spaces, both open and enclosed.

03 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

Keeping in mind Expensify does not own the building, design interventions had to speak not only to the enduring grandeur of the existing interiors but also the realities of a finite lease term.

02 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

Concepted as a treehouse, the staircase is flanked by two brass-clad, glass-enclosed rooms that appear to float in space and are themselves topped with open “crow’s nest” perches that are functional work areas.

01 Expensify Garrett Rowland
© Garrett Rowland

Expensify’s “choose your own adventure” workplace features 100 percent agile seating. Employees choose where to sit depending on their individual style, mood, and the task at hand.

Location of project:
Credits:
ZGF Architects

Swinerton Builders


Glumac

Melvin Mark Companies

Code Unlimited

Pure + Freeform

Are you sure?

Remember that you can only vote once per award category.