Serena Williams is one of the biggest names in the sport, so it’s only fitting that she was the muse for the design of Nike’s biggest office building.
Touches of Williams highlight every corner. From subtle nods – her favorite color purple everywhere or her favorite flower, the rose, accenting indoor and outdoor spaces – to bold graphics and illustrations, Nike’s new design center blends architecture and design inspired by Williams and powered by Nike.
“We were bringing Serena in early to not only be the name of the building, but to really help participate,” said John Hoke, Nike’s design director. “It’s a tribute to Serena Williams.”
Designed by Portland-based architecture firm Skylab, the building sits on the expanded northeast edge of campus and features three interconnected wings, abstractly inspired by the wings of the goddess Nike, connecting to a 180 feet high, the tallest building in the Beaverton area.
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Home to the Nike Consumer Creation teams of designers, consumer insights, women, men, kids and merchandising, each floor can also represent a different stage of product creation. The main design feature for Nike comes from the fourth floor, where Nike’s 1,000 designers based in the region can sit together.
Jeff Kovel, founder of Skylab, said designing the Serena Williams Building was like designing a city. With four restaurants – each themed after the name and style of one of the big four tennis tournaments – offices for 2,500 people, event spaces including a two-story ballroom with 360-degree views and connectedness, he says his team focused on creating neighborhoods within the building and relied on brand and Williams storytelling to help tie it all together.
The first two levels include 140,000 square feet of showrooms and workspaces, immersive rooms with 180-degree wraparound visual projection capabilities and a focus on retail presentation. This emphasis on the fourth floor is highlighted with skybridges – the longest at 165 feet – which all connect to this floor, encouraging the most flow of people into the space. The office includes 200,000 square feet of lab space allowing designers to test new ideas and presentations
“The whole building takes your breath away,” says Williams. “Every element, wherever you go, is an opportunity to be inspired. I hope this building will encourage people to bring out the best in themselves and dream bigger than they ever thought possible. .”
A shoe materials library is on the third floor, and the color lab is on the fourth floor. Other special locations include a two-story Olympia Theater, named after Serena’s daughter, which seats approximately 140 people on levels seven and eight (each seat in the theater has a number inside an emblem in shape of a rose), a Phenom banquet hall on the ninth floor and a 10andWimbledon restaurant on the ground floor that offers views from the highest point in Washington County.
The design of the building aimed for flexibility, allowing a change in the layout or equipment of the offices without reconfiguring the architecture. The emphasis on movement has led to an abundance of stairwells for vertical connectivity and highlighting collaborative moments, both formal and informal. With 150 conference rooms, 23 kitchenettes and “editing rooms” for putting projects on the walls or small lounging areas in hallways and decks, Susan Barnes, director of Skylab, explains that “the idea was to design as many flexible collaborative spaces as possible.
A LEED Platinum certified building, sustainable highlights include 648 solar panels, on-site rainwater collection and reuse to reduce water usage by 69% compared to a typical building of its size, over With 50% of the timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, the site’s location next to a protected wetland helps to enhance the natural landscape and emphasizes bringing fresh air into the interior.
With the wings connected, this sometimes means outdoor gardens on different floors, accessible only by the occupants of the building. Each having a different theme, the gardens will develop over time and are designed as another meeting place for employees.
In an office the size of the Serena Williams building, Kovel says they designed a theme to help people better understand the layout. The deep interior spaces feature a skylight system to channel natural light down through the building and into the gathering spaces.
Expect to find small nods to Williams at many corners. From the themes of the great outdoors and cafes to perforations in the cafeteria ceiling reminiscent of a tennis racket frame or a light fixture that traces the pitches of Williams’ aces at the US Open. Inside the main foyer, 23 glass columns, each containing a piece of Williams memorabilia, represent the 23 major championships Williams has won.
The building’s exterior, with granite and a metallic skin, was a nod to Williams as a “warrior princess”, says Kovel, and is inspired by materials from Japan, a country important to Nike’s early success. .
Outside, Place Landscape Architecture focused on creating a more natural landscape – the Nike campus has long been known for its careful landscape design – in harmony with the adjacent wetland. Natural plantings highlight much of the landscape, although Williams’ favorite flower, the rose, is also incorporated near the main entrance. A new covered pedestrian bridge spans the wetland, connecting the building to other areas of campus.
A new tennis court named for East Compton, where Williams learned to play tennis, is located just outside the building near the Coach K Fitness Center, which opened in 2018.
Hoke credits Kovel and Skylab for planning a building that helps Nike’s design improve. “The building was designed as a catalyst for creativity,” Hoke said. “It’s very porous, there are a lot of penetrations between floors. The team designed a series of neighborhoods, each with a culture, audience and community on the same floor. Personally, I can’t wait to see and to feel the energy when the teams return.”