By Meghan Hall
T-Mobile has been making headlines as of late, snapping up large leases on the Eastside in and around Bellevue’s Factoria neighborhood. The “Un-carrier,” as the company likes to call itself, leased nearly 90,000 square feet in the Sunset Corporate Campus at the end of 2018, and renewed another for 174,546 square feet at Canyon Point in Bothell. T-Mobile has also expanded its headquarters, currently owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge, to around 1,000,000 square feet and extended its lease commitment to 2030, according to the company’s annual report released at the beginning of February. The expansion comes as T-Mobile wraps up the renovation of its 3305 building, also in Bellevue, and begins work on the reimagining of its main campus.
T-Mobile declined to comment for this story, but directed The Registry to a press release it published in November on the headquarters’ renovation.
“T-Mobile has become the Un-carrier…from its HQ on the hill above I-90 in Bellevue, Wash.,” the company said in the statement. “But it’s bursting at the seams…And, as T-Mobile has a lot of goodness to come — expansion into new businesses, a coming launch of nationwide 5G and a historic merger on the horizon — the company knows now is the time to create a Bellevue HQ that’s truly primed for the future…today.”
According to T-Mobile, the company has grown by more than 56 percent over the last five years and now has 6,200 employees as of November 2018, not counting those working in retail stores. T-Mobile has hired national architecture and design firm Gensler to work on the HQ project, as well as the renovation of its other spaces in the area. The company’s recently renovated, 67,000 square foot, 3305 building was used as a beta test for the $160 million headquarters project, which is anticipated to take the next several years.
“They have a really big footprint [in Bellevue],” explained Gensler’s Public Relations Coordinator Morgan Denno. “They’re growing really quickly, and they’re anticipating a lot more growth, too. They’re growing, and they’re shifting from this cubicle environment to a much more agile, much more high-energy area of collaboration. We definitely started this idea with the 3305 office, which is located just two miles from the main Bellevue campus.”
A lot of Gensler’s design for the 3305 building and T-Mobile’s headquarters revolved around creating a new way to work, with different work zones comprised of project rooms, focus rooms, cafes and a mix of assigned seats and open table workspaces. The arrangement is not only meant to create a more innovative and collaborative environment, but is one that can accommodate more employees in the long run, as well.
“You are absolutely able to get a higher headcount,” said Julia Horner, an associate designer at Gensler working on multiple T-Mobile projects in the area. “The desk is not the end-all, be-all. There needs to be alternate work zones within the office to create a landscape of choice, to really make an environment that works for the people.”
While each building throughout T-Mobile’s campus and greater portfolio will have its own character and unique design details, there are several themes that started with 3305 that will be carried throughout. According to Denno and Horner, the base palette for the space, neutral tones with pops of magenta and other elements, such as carpets and woods, will remain the same.
“Magenta is a really important part of their brand identity, and we are exploring different ways of expressing the magenta, whether that is in the brand application or lighting or creating unexpected detail moments,” said Horner. “We worked with a base palette that will continue throughout the entire campus while inserting personality and character to differentiate all of the spaces.”
Some of the minor details, Horner said, could come in the form of vibrant upholstery and wall coverings. The important part, emphasized Denno and Horner, was that the employees felt that they were truly part of the space.
“Their brand element is so focused on bringing employees in,” said Denno. “There’s a lot of interactive elements throughout the office, from a scrabble wall to whiteboards that people doodle on. It’s a really cool environment, and they want their employees to feel as if they are part of the brand and developing it with them.”
The new headquarters will also include an array of amenities, including a new campus gastropub that will serve local brews and flatbread pizza. Outdoor hubs and gathering areas such as coffee shops and an IT genius bar are also part of the headquarters’ future offerings to its employees. The design of 3305, T-Mobile’s headquarters and subsequent buildings in the area will all reinforce alternate ways of working while using bold design choices to create spaces that are truly unique to T-Mobile, said Denno and Horner.
“They are pushing these alternative ways of working and putting that at the forefront of planning and strategy in the design,” said Horner. “They are quite unique in the expressions we take in and how we make these spaces come alive so they are true to T-Mobile. It’s exciting, because you could never take what we’re doing in these buildings and apply it to somebody else’s brand, because it would stand out right away. This design can’t be applied to anybody else.”