After the success of their Washington, DC office redesign, Manatt and OPX partnered together again to combine several office locations into a unique space for Manatt’s headquarters in Los Angeles.
Manatt’s objective was to design an office that represented the “Professional Services Firm of the Future,” which mandated a change in their workplace to better deliver on their capabilities and offerings.
The vision for the new headquarters was to unite staff in an innovative, non-traditional space that supports the nature of their work and honors its location. The resulting mission was to create a law firm that appealed specifically to their clients – and didn’t feel like a law firm.
Manatt was moving toward a new business model, which suggested a new way of working. As they had with their DC location, Manatt again engaged in OPX’s IOE® analysis to determine the strategic priorities that would guide the entire process.
Through the IOE® process, which included an interactive vision session, operational survey focus groups, and OPX’s proprietary scenario planning methodology, we helped Manatt see the possibilities of the new operating model which included “future-proofing” the offices by equipping them to be doubled up as the consulting model grew - and as law firm design evolved.
This scenario would allow the firm to increase timekeepers by 30% without increasing their square footage. A review of remote work (pre-COVID!) showed a remote work program could be used as a growth strategy – further reducing the need for more real estate, and appealing to a younger workforce.
In addition to the strategic direction, OPX drew inspiration from the landscape of California for the design, translating its biodiversity into natural movement throughout the space. Every floor has a dedicated theme and purpose, unified through the “heart” spaces on each and centered by the trapezoidal open stair. These heart spaces provide interaction and connection venues, a function indicated a vitally important in the IOE® process. While standing in a heart space, one can see the floors above and below you – a visual link to the rest of the office, and the identity of Manatt.
Manatt’s new space has enhanced the firm’s efficiency and encapsulates their progressive brand. Attorneys are housed in same-size offices, with glass fronts and sliding doors maximizing square footage, visual transparency, and natural light throughout the space. An additional benefit of same-size offices is the use of consistent furniture standards, allowing the space to easily adapt to fluctuating practice size and partner-to-associate ratios, as well as eliminating the hierarchical nature of a typical law firm and being more representative of a professional services firm.
The main reception floor on floor 17 is an elegant space featuring ceiling and floor palettes that represent California’s different regions. This floor marks the top of the 3-story interconnecting stair that ties all the floors together. The relationship between the ceiling and floor creates complete environments reminiscent of the city of LA, rather than an office.
Floor 16, nicknamed the “Surfboard Room,” offers communal work under custom, oversized wood “surfboards” suspended overhead. Driven by California casual life of sun, fun, beach, and ocean, it also functions as the social area, with chair swings, game tables, beer taps, “bleachers,” and food service capabilities.
The “Quiet Car” of floor 15 is inspired by California’s railroad history and is geared towards focused work. The 14th floor conference center consists of a variety of conference room types, seating areas, and direct access to food and beverage services, as well as cutting-edge AV capability. Similarly, the public areas on each floor are outfitted with large monitor screens to broadcast meetings and announcements from the firm’s leadership.
Previously separate administration functions were unified on the 4th floor, which was designed into six distinct “neighborhoods” that represent both LA’s metropolitan characteristics and Manatt’s dynamic energy through vibrant palettes, contemporary wall coverings, and open collaboration areas. Large format screens on the 17th, 16th, and 14th floors allow Manatt to broadcast content of their choosing to the firm, with two locations in-office to film or telecast live. These recordings can also be broadcast on any screen throughout the firm, including conference rooms, training rooms, pantries, and heart spaces. Another notable room is the Listening Room, where Manatt’s media lawyers listen to copyrighted material under review in a living room-esque space similar to a sound studio, that doubles as a relaxed environment in which to meet with clients.
The building, designed by the same architect as the NYC Twin Towers, had stringent structural and aesthetic building policies that needed to be adhered to. These challenges were addressed by partial open ceilings with acoustical treatments that enhance the flow of the space, and a detailed partition plan for staff workstations. As part of this plan, each practice group is housed together, including administrative assistants, to enhance workplace efficiency and flow across the floor plate.
Manatt, known in the marketplace for its quality, commitment to clients, range of capabilities, and innovative offerings, now has an inspiring, forward-thinking headquarters. Perhaps the most important benefit of the design solutions aimed at efficiency and better work flow is that the design reduced their LA footprint by almost half, savings millions of dollars. In addition to providing an environment conducive to Manatt’s day-to-day strategy, the five-floor office, totaling 116,000 SF, represents Manatt’s ideal of becoming the “Professional Service Firm of the Future.”