By Kate Snyder
“Unique,” “intuitive,” and “engaging” are some of the terms people have used to describe the games produced by Brainium Studios, a mobile game company based in Portland, and in 2020, the firm decided it wanted an office with the same qualities. Braimium worked with Hacker architects to create a space that focused on an open concept floor plan as well as maximizing employees’ needs, according to information from Hacker, which spent months collaborating with the company on the design process.
“One of the most interesting aspects of the design is how we tested the boundaries of what open concept working looks like,” said Hacker architect Keri Erwin. “With the appropriate space planning, the right details and material uses, we were able to keep a primarily open space that had various zones for different types of work. There are varying degrees of collaborative and individual workspaces that take advantage of city views, daylighting and acoustics.”
Other members of the development team included Lease Crutcher Lewis as the contractor, KPFF as the structural engineer, Glumac for mechanical, plumbing and electrical engineering as well as lighting and Listen as the acoustical engineer.
Brainium’s 23,000 square foot offices are located at 1250 NW 9th Ave., Suite 600. The firm is an independent software company that has been crafting mobile games since 2008, according to the company’s website, and its offerings include games supported by iOS and Android devices.
The company asked Hacker to design a modestly branded workplace that creates a welcoming and visually-pleasing experience while leaving room for the unexpected. According to Hacker, Brainium’s desired qualities for the redesigned office were similar to the studio’s own work – “their game apps are unique, intuitive and engaging with incredible attention to detail, all for the goal of an amazing experience for the player.”
Hacker began with an inquiry to the Brainium team to better understand their specific objectives for the growing company, and some of the primary directives included a space that supports the health and wellbeing of staff with a rational flow, simple material palette and superb acoustics and lighting. John Dalit, Hacker architect, said providing for the acoustics and separation from desks was important to not hinder any of the employees’ work.
“We worked to dissolve the typical cubicles by having the separating partitions be low height, using plants and perforated panels to help create work zones,” he said. “There is also a game area that includes two large TVs, game consoles and large tables for collaboration or board games.”
Elements of the new office include a reception lounge, defined by built-in seating that lines the perimeter, that immediately greets visitors and staff. The seating connects to a desk, both clad in whitewashed tambour panels, creating a visual language that’s seen throughout, according to information from Hacker. The palette is minimal with walls painted in white and various shades of blue, white-washed tambour panel, blue upholstery and concrete flooring that provide a canvas for Brainium to develop the space with colorful, interactive digital art, while also relating to the urban views.
Matte black lighting and plumbing fixtures provide graphic accents while a screen intended to support vines and plants captures the workstation pods. The screen creates a buffer between the desks and the primary circulation path, ensuring a visitor can see out to the Willamette River upon entering from the elevator. Access to natural light and plants throughout the space help to create a biophilic environment that contributes to the wellbeing of staff.
Conference rooms and enclosed offices are placed at the core, preserving the penetration of daylight deep into the space. Acoustic panels are installed at the ceiling in the open office areas, helping to mitigate the large amounts of glass and other hard surfaces, and lighting types were layered to provide sufficient task visibility at workstations as well as dimmable ambient light in lounge areas. The primary kitchen is centrally located with two smaller kitchenettes on each end of the floor plan to support staff no matter where their desk lands. The larger room can accommodate the entire staff for all-hands meetings as well as socializing and games. A ping-pong table and special booth for video games are part of the modern amenities, as is a fully furnished deck, which is large enough for meetings and parties.
“With Brainium’s fast growing staff size, we aimed to create moments of intimacy through a series of breakout rooms and spaces,” Dalit said. “We wanted to give Brainium staff options to meet, work and play depending on their needs. The soft radiused curves and playful touches of color, tambour panels, fabric and planting help foster a creative atmosphere while creating intimacy in the larger office space.”