An ocean wave crafted out of wood separates work stations from communal space in Google Inc.’s Venice office. Over at the Beverly Hills’ office of YouTube LLC, televisions, tablets and mobile devices cover a wall.
Disparate designs to be sure, but with something in common: the touch of Carlos Carrasquillo, one of the leading architects for tech companies in Los Angeles.
The 37-year-old principal at the Santa Monica office of HLW, a New York-based architecture firm, has been creating interiors for the local offices of tech and creative companies for eight years. Other clients include video game maker Electronic Arts Inc. and biotech firm Agensys Inc.
A point of pride for the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee grad is a lack of a signature style. Instead, he treats each design as a custom project borne out of discussions among the company’s executives and himself.
“They are about being very collaborative and have opinions about what we’re doing. They want to see your process and have ideas and it takes you down a different path,” he said.
That’s how he ended up adding surfboards and a boardwalk feel to Google’s Venice office and a glass-walled fitness center to Electronic Arts’ Playa Vista office.
Still, for all the distinctive elements, he finds the companies want some things in common, namely abundant natural light, tall ceilings and, especially, wide-open floor plans.
“They (want) a legit collaborative space; it’s not just something they say because it sounds good,” Carrasquillo said. “You have a cross-pollination of people and that produces better ideas. When you approach that architecturally, it creates an environment.”
His career has been advancing as developers and landlords hire him to renovate or design buildings from the ground up in order to attract more desirable tenants.
“For the last two years, I have not had one conversation with a developer that isn’t geared around trying to get these tech guys to come to their buildings. It’s literally all you hear,” he said.
Consider his transformation of the former U.S. Postal Service distribution site in Playa Vista into a 380,000-square-foot creative office campus for developers Shorenstein Properties and Worthe Real Estate Group.
Unlike interiors he’s completed for tech companies, Carrasquillo isn’t designing a specific creative space in the building. He’s designing a blank canvas.
“A lot of these tenants don’t like going into designed buildings if they’ve been thought through and have a style,” he said. “They want spaces that appear to be a clean slate so they can add their own architecture and make it their own.”
He doesn’t see this trend changing anytime soon. And for him, that’s a good thing. He sees the opportunity to work for these tenants as an opportunity to expand his design work.
“Some rip off the ceiling, expose the structure and are calling it creative but in reality, it’s not,” he said.
– Jacquelyn Ryan
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