In the News
RMW designs Knight Ridder's new Silicon Valley headquarters.
Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 7/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
The call from Knight Ridder came, as they say, out of the blue. Could Mary Davidge, principal of RMW Architecture & Interiors in San Jose, meet with the executive from the country's second largest newspaper company? Soon, as in tomorrow? Tabled for discussion, he explained, was design of the publisher's headquarters, about to be moved from Miami to Silicon Valley. Davidge accepted, was on hand for the briefing and, with her host, took a quick tour of the designated 40,000-sq.-ft. space in San Jose's Fairmont Plaza office tower. As good luck would have it, she already knew the venue, having years earlier converted the premises for former tenants. A second meeting was held one week later in Miami. This time accompanied by her senior designer, Davidge made her program proposals and digital presentation. The contract was signed. Work began without delay.
The main motive for relocation was, recalls Davidge, the client's resolve to establish Knight Ridder as a strong presence in Silicon Valley. Owning 32 newspapers in 28 American markets, management was well aware that print media must adopt the latest electronic methods to lead in their highly competitive field. The firm already has, according to a corporate spokesman, 29 regional hubs plus another seven or eight affiliates; other advancements are in the works. Mindful of this background and the contemplated future, then, the RMW plan was to endow the new place with an identity suggestive of a forward-looking yet solidly established corporation dedicated to progress and growth.
Space allocations called for formal lobbies, reception areas, lunch rooms, perimetric private offices, and inner work stations repeated on each of two (12th and 15th) floors; board room, training sectors, video- and teleconference facilities come in single up-or-downstairs editions. Among treatments vouching for design individuality are orientation devices, diverse materials, and three kinds of lighting. Traffic direction is imparted by a curvilinear blue plaster wall horizontally bisecting the footplate; stainless steel-framed portals cutting through the winding band form strategically placed pass-throughs. At mid-point is the elevator lobby. Thus, instead of wondering which way to turn, entering strangers can see the reception area at one end (and the break-room at the other). Conversely, they can simply follow the same undulating divider to reach the central exit.
Deployed materials fall into two categories: woods, specifically three kinds of maple, and hard substances like stainless steel and plaster. Interior façades of perimeter offices consist of ample glazing scored with wood, filtering daylight inward. Flooring materials reinforce the diagram for traffic: terrazzo and limestone define entry areas; carpeting with large basket weave, solid cut-pile, or small pattern covers corridors, private offices/work stations, and lobby areas respectively; and all-natural linoleum surfaces the break rooms. Lighting consists of accent spots in lobby/reception rooms; indirect lighting in circulation lanes; and direct/indirect, as in task/ambient, for offices with computers. For acoustic comforts, wall panels are wrapped in linen and lobby ceilings are paved with thin white cloth resembling painted gypboard.
Completing the RMW delegation were project manager Kellie Hampel, design director David Rush, designer Kelly Kosarek, job captain Jim Aguila, and technical assistant Jann Fabrin. The entire job took slightly less than one year.