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The Office Designs of Forward-Thinking Finance Companies

Posted June 30, 2017 By Liz Wolf

Move over tech companies; you’re not the only ones designing experience-driven and amenity-rich office space.

Banks and financial services firms’ spaces are beginning to offer office environments to attract and retain top talent. “The most ‘talked-about’ offices are often found in the tech space,” says Brian Tolman, Head of Product, Convene. “Buzzfeed has an interesting space in New York, Airbnb has a really dynamic space, and everybody always talks about Google’s campus. But non-tech companies are also moving the needle when it comes to office design – including banks.”


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Photo of JPMorgan Chase courtesy of New York Business Journal


JPMorgan Chase’s New Recruitment Tool in Manhattan

JPMorgan Chase’s new offices at 5 Manhattan West, near the New York City’s developing Hudson Yards district, is home to both digital and technology employees, and was designed by the JPMorgan Global Real Estate Design & Construction team and Gensler.

According to CNBC, the nation’s largest bank is looking to recruit talent away from startups and other tech industry giants, whose “experience is ripe for financial services products that are increasingly being consumed online.”

“Now, when you walk into JPMorgan’s new space, it feels like you’ve walked into an innovative tech company,” says Tolman. Features at the new office include colorful open space, “writable walls” for brainstorming, floor-to-ceiling windows around the entire floor, and a den area with games, guitars, and amps ready for the next jam session. There is also a work café, and scooters readily available, allowing employees to get around the floor faster.


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Photo of JPMorgan Chase courtesy of Bloomberg


Inspiring Millennial Talent

Now that technology companies have the cash to woo talented bankers away, many financial services firms need to compete with better workspaces to put themselves at an even playing field.  

5 Manhattan West is strategically located in the Hudson Yards development, among what is soon to be the epicenter for young, cutting-edge technology companies in New York City,” says Jackie Miller, spokesperson for Chase Digital. “Chase was one of the first banks to invest heavily in this area and open a new office. It is not your typical home for bankers, but it is a unique, state-of-the-art workplace to drive innovation.”

Miller also adds that the space promotes creativity by offering employees a variety of flexible work environments to foster collaboration across all teams and functions, such as private phone booths, team huddle spaces, and traditional conference rooms. “These technology-centric spaces enable mobility to help build a strong collaborative, digital culture,” she says.


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Photo of Sands Capital Management courtesy of Eric Laignel


Supporting Virginia’s “Always-On” Workforce at Sands Capital Management

Sands Capital Management (SCM) recognizes that well-designed offices with plenty of amenities and services available for their employees helps keep them engaged and inspired.

SCM recently opened a new office in Arlington, Va., occupying the top four floors of their building. Working with OTJ Architects, they designed a “trophy office” to help retain the company’s top talent in the competitive international financial industry. Building a new space provided SCM an opportunity to expand the number of available amenities for the company’s growing staff.

“SCM wanted to create the best possible space, one current and future employees could feel very comfortable in,” says Ania Leeson, OTJ partner in charge of the Sands Capital project. “The financial world is one that does not stop at 5 p.m., so creating a connected environment within the office – and beyond – was critical.”


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Photo of Sands Capital Management courtesy of Eric Laignel


Flexible Office Features That Promote Collaboration

The “strategically placed” open staircase encourages SCM’s staff members to change up their work environment and traverse all four floors and interact with team members in “communal collaborative areas.”

“Every floor needed to have something special to draw people from the other floors,” says Camie Bingham, the project’s lead interior designer and design director at OTJ.

For example, the 28th floor has a fully stocked coffee bar and lounge area. Other floors offer a penthouse café, a game room with a pool table, foosball, and TVs, a reception area and a glass-enclosed library. A 40-foot light sculpture spans the open stair.

Leeson says the office’s flexible conference center has “stunning panoramic views of D.C.” To help make those even more memorable, OTJ designed an interactive “binocular wall” equipped with leather strap binoculars as well as Polaroid cameras for guests and visitors to take photos or “zoom in” on the monuments.

The private roof terrace also features a conference room, bar, catering pantry and indoor/outdoor fireplace with a “residential” feel.

“There’s a very personal character to this space,” Leeson says. “It intentionally was designed to not feel corporate through use of warm materials and hospitality design cues.


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