Microsoft Corporation

Our firm was retained by Microsoft Corporation to recommend usages for the future Commons Building in on West Campus. The corporation planned to redesign its West Campus to create a common gathering space with a variety of employee services that would not only serve the 4,000-5,000 employees who work on that campus but to also support the soon-to-be renovated training center on that same site. Our scope of work included detailing customer-preferred services, related space requirements and adjacencies, operational model suggestions, future usage options as services become dated and benchmarking results highlighting employee or customer services from five organizations with demographics and/or work environments similar to Microsoft’s.

For the purpose of gathering data, our team toured the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, met with key members of the administration and conducted focus groups and intercept interviews with employees. We probed their current eating habits and preferences by asking where they currently eat meals, when they eat, what types of food they prefer, etc. We also asked them to provide feedback on what type of services they would like to have on campus including banking, a post office, cafes, delivery services, retail stores including gift and book stores, etc. Our final report provided detailed narratives outlining our vision for the new Commons building based on the qualitative and quantitative market research as well as our professional insights.

We suggested a building that is designed as a contemporary and inviting “town center” that would serve as an icon not only for West Campus, but for the company as a whole. All of the interiors and services in the building should be designed to communicate and reinforce the unique and exciting corporate culture at Microsoft. Architectural and other interior elements such as lighted displays should be highly visible in the common areas and designed to set the tone for all employees and visitors, but especially for potential employees so that they have an immediate positive first impression of the company and its culture.

We recommended that the Commons building be designed to include a wide variety of food and non-food services conveniently clustered on the first floor of the building along with meeting spaces/conference rooms and/or Human Resources/Benefits work space/services on the upper level (s). In addition, we also recommended that, if possible, the building should also be easily accessible either on foot from the nearby buildings or by car (with self service or valet parking). The new West Commons opened in Spring 2009. It includes 14 restaurants (a mix of locate and regional brands) and other retail outlets including a pub, a post office, credit union, bike repair shop, salon, spa, cell phone store, card shop plus a 1,000 person conference center.