With companies looking to attract and retain top talent to make New York the next center of tech innovation, the client aimed to distinguish Two Sigma as an agile and adaptable forerunner of the innovation economy—one willing to invest in spaces that support new ways of learning and working. The inaugural tenant of the Tata Innovation Center, Two Sigma wanted their new workspace to harness the vision for Cornell Tech’s campus on Roosevelt Island: “to spur the commercialization of new products and technologies by bringing together the best in academia and industry.” The success of the space thus hinged on the manner in which entrepreneurs—the academics from Cornell Tech and practitioners from Two Sigma and venture-funded partners—“collide” in the space and make it their own in order to innovate. To differentiate the Lab from its headquarters in SoHo, New York, the client was positioned as a separately branded workspace. The design team wanted to bring the scientific method and advances in data science to life while also focusing, as Two Sigma does, on the importance of talent and culture in the workplace. Implementing a research-based approach, the design team conducted deep dives into specific user concerns including acoustics and material selection to facilitate conversations that reconciled strategic design thinking with Two Sigma’s tactical desires.
The client’s interior architecture takes inspiration from the scientific method to spur innovation for a revolving roster of engineers, students, and venture-funded entrepreneurs. The simple, open layout, which pulls in views of island, river, and city, feels equals parts maker-space, student union, and modern workplace. The team developed the concept of ‘Tech Ethereal’ as a testing ground for future agile workspaces. A crisp, elevated take on tech interiors is emphasized with a palette of earth tones and bright organic colors that play off of Two Sigma’s branding. The open interior is bisected by a central community table and sculptural acoustical canopy, designating softer and louder corners of the Lab. Conference rooms, the concealed pantry, and other support spaces are bound to a complimentary pair of pavilions trimming the north and south perimeters. The pavilions house a series of conference rooms ranging in size and formality, from a seven-person war room to an intimate ‘crawl’ space. Conferences rooms brandish darker tones, where cornflower and fustic indigo Dyelab carpeting contrasts with the mottled cork wall coverings. The textile rich environment dampens sound and demarcates independent work areas from collaborative spaces. With the elasticity and informality of a lab as the central organizing concept, this is the place to roll up your sleeves and experiment, together.