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Hassell rethinks the future of legal workplace design for Baker McKenzie

A new concept reflects changing perceptions of the traditional law office.


2 min read

Entertainment Space

Photography: Hufton+Crow

Developed by global design studio Hassell, a new workplace for international law firm Baker McKenzie has been unveiled at 280 Bishopsgate, London. Taking inspiration from the rise of more agile and hybrid working following the pandemic, Hassell sought to challenge the typically formal, traditional approach for legal practices, placing more emphasis on collaborative work, wellbeing and fostering a stronger sense of community. The result is a visually striking, employee-led London HQ that aptly demonstrates the growing ‘hotelisation’ and ‘homeification’ of the workplace, weaving together fully connected working zones, a rooftop entertainment terrace and biophilic additions like an abundance of natural light and indoor plants.

Before embarking on the project, Hassell’s 2023 Workplace Future Survey found that more and more people are now choosing to return to the office, presenting new challenges for companies that have become accustomed to fully remote modes of working. The studio consulted with over 100 employees from Baker McKenzie, conducting staff surveys, department interviews and cross-sectional workshops in order to gather feedback from – and ultimately, better cater to – those at the frontline of the practice.

“It was clear from the beginning of the brief that people would be at the heart of the Baker McKenzie office,” explains Anthony Dickens, Project Lead and Hassell Principal. “What we found was a global-thinking team that wanted to be more closely connected following periods solely working from home – but who also wanted to honour hybrid lifestyles and different ways of working.”

The survey results communicated a desire for integrated team spaces, a flexible and innovative workplace, and more ways to elevate the client experience, all of which were to be implemented in the studio’s final design. For instance, large central working areas were incorporated on every floor of the building, creating a ‘neighbourhood’-like system to foster inter-team socialisation and better learning opportunities for junior staff. Further blurring the traditional boundaries between client, staff and social spaces, the firm now welcomes clients to meet and work onsite, while dividing walls were made from unfrosted glass to increase the flow of natural light and communication through the building.

As well as providing flexible, integrated work zones, Hassell also sought to elevate client and employee experience by drawing from boutique hotel design. Throughout the interiors, the studio integrated a variety of textures and tones reminiscent of hospitality environments, utilising materials such as bronze, gold, hot rolled steel, black timber and rough-sawn volcanic stone to create a warmer, more welcoming atmosphere. Statement pendant lighting is suspended above the bar and entertainment space, while plush orange and blue sofas join nests of organic-shaped coffee tables for a more informal, vibrant feel in communal areas.

“We were excited to move away from the traditional closed rooms that often shape law firm workplaces to support an understandable need for confidentiality,” Dickens continues. “The new office still features private meeting rooms, but creating neighbourhood pockets that directly surround open dynamic social and working spaces has allowed teams to prioritise a sense of community and collaboration that puts staff wellbeing first.”

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