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The New Zappos Downtown Las Vegas Headquarters

The first office I had the opportunity to visit was that of the online shoe and clothing shop Zappos. Back in those days, the company was headquartered in a boring office park in Henderson, but has recently completed their move to the old, yet freshly renovated Las Vegas City Hall.

Downtown Vision

The high profile move is a part of CEO Tony Hsieh’s effort to revitalize the city’s downtown known as the Downtown Project.  Rather than staying isolated outside of the city, Hsieh decided to move 1300+ employees into the heart of Las Vegas’ downtown is one way to kickstart the reshaping of once-blighted area.

Instead of keeping employees isolated from the surrounding community, the new campus will hopefully encourage interaction through its location to coffee shops, lunch spots, and entertainment venues.

Connecting Employees Through Inconvenience

One concept we’ve learned from Steve Jobs through the design of Pixar’s Headquarters is that creativity and energy come from ‘unplanned collaborations’. And while some companies design offices to be hyper-efficient, the design team for Zappos has actually made their new office intentionally inconvenient.

“We actually make decisions on a regular basis that could in some capacity inconvenience employees, but what they’re really designed to do is create more collisions between people,” says Ware. “We have a sky bridge that connects the south parking garage to the interior of the building, so you’re sort of walking over the street. We’re closing that off even though it’s very convenient.”

Each of the building’s 11 floors are left with an empty space for employees to design and choose amenities. One might fill the space with games while another might want a comfortable lounge. Most office designers would usually  provide the exact same items for all staff on every level, but by allowing each floor to relative autonomy, the hopes are that employees will be motivated to move around and cross-pollinate with staff they might not otherwise interact with.

Freedom for Creativity and Collaboration

Zappos is well known for promoting employee creativity (have you seen how they decorate their desks?), which doesn’t change with the new location, and has probably even been turned up several notches.

Rather than using stationary cubicles, the new office provides staff with a completely moveable desk solution. Power and internet come from the ceiling to assist the freedom of movement – something the design team learned from visiting Facebook’s headquarters. The company has also increased density, to just 70 square feet per employee. High office density is meant to mimic the lively and energetic atmosphere of a downtown urban environment.

Spread throughout the campus are common lounge spaces, collaborative tables, and even a coworking facility in the lobby which are all meant to get employees connecting with one another – and the outside community.

Around the Campus

The campus spans some 276,500 square feet across 11 stories and includes a variety of features including a state-of-the-art cafeteria and kitchen, roof terrace, game rooms, product-specific meeting rooms, coffee shop, yoga studio, gym, and genius bar. Touchscreen video games are also found in elevators throughout the office.

And because the building used to be a city hall, some remnants of old jail cells exist and are possibly being turned into a speakeasy.

The Zappos campus project is currently targeting LEED Silver certification.

Design: Zack Ware, Patrick Olson
Architecture: KMD with Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects
General Contractor: Penta Building Group
Construction Management: Jones Lang LaSalle