SharkNinja’s new office brings 400 employees under the same roof in Needham, Massachusetts for the first time ever.
With an aim to encourage cross-functionality and collaboration among teams, design firm Sasaki executed an open concept space for SharkNinja, bringing multiple offices and hundreds of employees together for the first time. With splashes of wood tones and Feng Shui energy, the welcoming office provides a modern and warm environment. Central to this effort was the creation of a place that celebrates its employees and is easy to use with seamless technology and spaces that are quickly adaptable. It facilitates interaction and collaboration to drive high performance business and inspires creativity.
When was the project completed?
How much space?
Was this new or renovated space?
SF per person?
Just under 300 GSF per person, however a large portion of this space is labs and workshops.
How many employees?
There are 400 current employees, with capacity to grow to 600.
What is average daily population?
Is there a mobile work or work from home policy? If so, what percent of employees are remote workers?
There are very few mobile workers. People do work at home when they need to, but typically they come into the office to work.
Describe work-space types.
There are a number of different work space types employed at the new headquarters building. Approximately 90% of employees are located in an open plan with a 6’x8’ workstation. There are three different workstation types; each created for the specific needs of the department and their employees. The remaining 10 percent of employees are located in enclosed offices with either a side lite or full glass front.
What kind of meeting spaces are provided?
There are enclosed conference rooms of multiple sizes, ranging from four to 16 seats. Many of these conference rooms are non-dedicated (available for anyone to use), while others are dedicated to a specific department. There is not only variety in the size of conference rooms, but also in the furniture. Some rooms consist of the traditional conference room table and chair layout, while others have sofas and coffee tables, providing variety and choice. Markerboard paint, tackable surfaces, TV display monitors, and projection screens are among some of the tools provided within the rooms. Scattered throughout the building, there are many open areas to meet and collaborate. These often consist of soft seating with laptop tables, or bar height tables with stools and movable markerboards. The floor plan is broken up into a series of programmatic bands, spanning the entire floor plate from west to east. The central band of program is known as the “social band.” This band is solely focused around social experiences and collaboration. Along with large kitchen pantries, informal collaborative lounge areas, and exterior courtyards, there are also two extra-large conference rooms located within the social band. There is an operable partition separating the two rooms, to create one larger conference room. Furthermore, there is a second operable partition which allows these rooms to open up onto the open social band, creating a larger gathering space to allow for large, all-office town hall meetings.
What other kind of support space or amenity spaces are provided?
The base building has amenities available for all the building tenants. These include a full service cafeteria, a fitness center, and an adjacent parking garage. Within SharkNinja’s space, there is also an additional fitness center, kitchen, and dining room, on the second floor, for exclusive Executive use. Also within their space are the common support spaces expected in a new building of this size, such as a mail room, several copy/supply rooms, and storage rooms. Throughout the space, there are six open pantries with adjacent bar height and café style seating, and adjacent to the Town Hall space described in question 9, is a Game Room. There are small 1-2 person quiet rooms scattered throughout, as well as dedicated interview rooms located off the main lobby for potential candidates. Dedicated War Rooms were created for teams to utilize for their specific team needs. They were intentionally left relatively bare so they could evolve and change as projects and teams change; with full height writable wall surfaces, a display monitor, and a high capacity of electrical power. There is also approximately 11,000 sf of space dedicated to labs and workshops used for testing and prototyping their products.
Located on the second floor is their Showroom, a flexible, client facing meeting space used to showcase their products. The Showroom can be divided into two smaller Showrooms depending on the current need.
Has the project achieved any special certifications?
The project is on track to receive LEED Silver Certification.
What is the project’s location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?
The Needham Shuttle provides a stop directly across the street. The shuttle goes to the Newton Highlands MBTA station; a short 1.8 miles ride. This transit station provides employees with access to the MBTA Green Line “D” subway service as well as the MBTA Bus line 59. The project is also less than a one-mile drive from Interstate 95 and the Charles River.
The project is located in a densely populated, commercial area of Needham, providing close proximity to a number of various types of amenities. These include restaurants, supermarkets, daycares, banks, fitness centers, hotels, salons, shopping, canoe and kayaking service, health center, community farm, local park, and post office centers.
Was the C-suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?
Yes, originally goal setting and visioning, establishing the basis for Why the project is happening, and periodic design reviews. However, they were also very focused on making sure employees were giving their input, so they tried not to dictate.
What kind of programming or visioning activities were used?
We organized an initial meeting with Senior Management at the start of the design process. This meeting was an opportunity for Senior Management to communicate to the design team their project goals and vision for the project prior to the commencement of the Programming and Visioning process. After this meeting, we led a Visioning Workshop to build off of the Visioning ideas from our meeting with Senior Management. This Visioning Workshop was a three-to-four hour session with a group of 40-50 SharkNinja employees. The participants included a broad representation of the company, taking into consideration role, department, and age. This was a key opportunity to involve a large group of employees in the design process and vision early on, and to contribute a broad set of ideas and experiences.
One exercise that took place during this workshop, included discussions around what will make certain aspects of the project successful. The exercise is broken down into different categories (ie: culture, client experience, identity, etc.). After all responses are posted on the wall, everyone is then given the opportunity to vote for the response they feel is the most important aspect of each category. Another exercise has a series of photos of diverse spaces posted on the wall. Each person is encouraged to write their opinions on the walls around the photos. After the Visioning Workshop, the design team reviewed the common likes/dislikes and important aspects to the company and reported back with a crisp summary of the findings and a verbal project vision. This workshop provided the design team with key verbal and visual clues about the culture and aspirations of SharkNinja. It enabled us to create a Vision document for the project that was a constant touchstone for all programming and design decisions throughout the project. After the Visioning Workshop, programming interviews were conducted for each department. A questionnaire was provided prior to the meeting to collect quantitative information. Topics discussed during these interviews included: group function, adjacency requirements, teaming opportunities, staffing projections, conferencing needs, equipment and storage needs, security requirements, technology, etc.
Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.
Being a company that engineers and creates different household products, with departments for marketing, sales, engineering, industrial design, and quality control, to name a few, there was an enormous amount of programmatic requirements that were unique to their company.
IHOS (In Home Observation Studies) is a mock-up home surrounding an observation center, enabling employees to watch real customers using their products in a home environment. The observation center has one way mirrored glass into each of rooms of the “home:” kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom, as well as focus rooms where customers are asked to discuss their experience with the products after using them in the mock home.
The Planogram serves as a mock-up of store shelves at specific retailers in an effort to maximize sales. Felt panels hung from tracks were used to give flexibility to the room size. The room has the ability to go from six mock-stores, to one large space.
Central to their business are the labs and testing facilities. Each space has specific program requirements unique to their specific function. There are dedicated lab-style kitchens for Quality, Culinary, and Ninja. There are tear-down and testing rooms for different functions, such as steam and vacuum testing. There is a Reverberation Room for testing sound and a Paint Room for painting prototypes. There’s also a large Engineering Design Workshop connected to a large Fabrication Workshop. These also connect to a Rapid Prototype room equipped with a variety of 3D printers.
In the Showrooms, we were tasked to create a high-end, polished space, that serves as a meeting space for current and potential clients, while also creating a flexible space that can be quickly rearranged to fit the meeting’s need. To achieve this, we designed a movable display unit, with hidden casters, adjustable shelving, and magnetic paint that can be moved to any desired location in the space. These units were designed to seamlessly fit along a storage niche in the back wall of the showroom, so when turned with their back side facing the room, it appears to be part of the wall. When turned facing out, they become a “built-in” display wall. Recessed track lighting allows the focus to be easily adjusted to the products placement in the room.
Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?
The practice of feng shui is extremely important to SharkNinja. Feng shui was implemented to help balance energy for better health and good fortune for both the individual employees, as well as the company as a whole. From the beginning, and through each phase of design, we worked closely with a feng shui consultant to make specific decisions regarding spatial arrangement, room orientations, materials, and color.
Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?
The IHOS and labs required us to use residential materials, which are typically not utilized in a commercial office space. This enabled them to test their products on the materials they’re most frequently used on.
What were the major furniture products used?
The systems furniture for both private offices and open workstations is District by Teknion. This is paired with Novo task chairs by SitOnIt. Guest chairs in the private offices are Vion by Global, and guest stools located at the workstations are Piton by Knoll. Traditional conference rooms have a mix of Amplify and Wit chairs by SitOnIt with Expansion and Audience conference tables by Teknion. Less traditional conference rooms have a variety of seating types and layouts. These consist of DNA modular seating and laptop tables, and Zones chairs, stools, tables, and whiteboard easels by Teknion, as well as Doko ottomans by Keilhauer.
The social band, pantries, and other open collaborative areas also have a variety of furniture. Seating options include Fractal lounge chairs by Teknion, Duet café chairs by Global, Focal Point benches by OFS, Quincy café chairs by Allermuir, Nub rocking chairs by Andreu World, Mitt lounge chairs by Bernhardt, Doko poufs and Visit sofas by Keilhauer, Ready barstools and Hot Mesh barstools and chairs by Blu Dot, and Fourcast Line barstools by Hightower. Tables within these spaces include standard height Casual Tables, Thesis hightop tables, and DNA laptop tables by Teknion, Qui side tables by Teknion Studio TK, Sip side tables by Keilhauer, Mercer coffee tables by Restoration Hardware, The Maker Project utility tables by Versteel, and Riff bar height tables by OFS. The main lobby and reception area has three groupings of soft seating. The products used here are the Spectrum sofa, Tulip chairs, and Envita coffee table by Teknion Studio TK, as well as Remy chairs and Facet side tables by Bernhardt.
What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?
It was extremely important to seamlessly incorporate SharkNinja’s brand throughout the design. The design team at Sasaki had several meetings with leadership from their Creative and Brand Marketing departments to understand their vision and to collaborate on ideas. In the end, we incorporated the brand into several aspects of the design. The two brands, Shark and Ninja, have two distinct colors, Purple and Green. It was decided early on that including these brand colors was not a desired approach for the architecture. After looking at numerous options, the final design has the main accent colors as shades of blues and teals, which is the resulting color from the combination of the two brand colors. These blue accent walls are located at the end of each band of enclosed program, adjacent to the open office areas. This was the perfect location to incorporate “brand walls.” We identified five key accent walls throughout the space and designed a tone-on-tone brand message most pertinent to the employees sitting nearby. These “brand walls” have messages taken from SharkNinja’s five Success Qualities.
In the main lobby, we used a similar method of a “brand wall,” with a bold graphic which states a version of SharkNinja’s tag line, “Positively impacting people’s lives every day in every home.” It is the first thing you see when you enter the space. A more subtle “SharkNinja” logo is located on the wood wall behind the reception desk. At a lounge area next to the reception desk, we’ve created an awards wall, highlighting their most recent awards. Lastly, a glass wall, separating the lobby from the rest of the office, contains 5-star reviews from real customers about their products.
The secondary building entrance features a product wall, which displays all of their Shark and Ninja products, each accompanied by a graphic from the product infomercial. The size of the floor plate was one of the biggest design challenges, as well as one of the most unique features of the space. The floor plate is approximately 380’ x 440’ (over the length of a football field in both directions). By breaking up the floor plan into a series of programmatic bands, we created “streets” and “neighborhoods,” bringing the massiveness of the space down to a more comfortable, human-scale. Two new courtyards and six large skylights were strategically placed to bring natural light to more internal areas. The use of materials and lighting help to navigate you through the space. For example, the use of wood flooring and staggered pendant lighting leads employees to one of the six pantries located throughout the building.
Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?
Every employee has a sit-to-stand desk. This new standard was implemented to improve physical health, while also giving employees the choice to change positions throughout the day. The new space also offers a variety of places to work away from their desk. Such places include enclosed conference rooms, individual semi-enclosed seats, café tables, bar height tables, lounge seating, and quiet rooms. Having choices and changing your environment throughout the day stimulates the mind, fosters creativity, and enhances productivity. It gives the employees the ability to rejuvenate and recharge in the setting that works for them.
There are two courtyards and six large skylights located throughout the first floor. These were created to gain daylight, views, and a connection to the outdoors, in an effort to promote mental and emotional balance for the employees throughout the day. To encourage biophilia, plants have been located throughout the space, strategically placed by the feng shui consultant.