JTI Headquarters

Submitted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

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Client: Japan Tobacco International

Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Completion date: 2015

Project Team

Architect

Anthony Vacchione, Managing Partner

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Architect

Kent Jackson, Design Director

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Interior Designer

Stephen Apking, Interior Design Partner

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Architect

Julia Skeete, Project Manager

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Artist

Liam Gillick

private

Architect

Jeffrey McCarthy, Managing Partner

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Interior Designer

Ursula Schneider, Interior Design Architect

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Overview

Surrounded by parkland and built on a former industrial site, the new JTI Headquarters is located in a Geneva district that is home to prestigious international organizations. The design consolidates four existing JTI premises within a single landmark building and demonstrates SOM’s commitment to integrated design and innovative workplace solutions.
Embodying JTI’s brand values—‘enterprising, open, and challenging’—the design of the headquarters creates a workplace that breaks down corporate silos and contributes to an open and flexible organization. A “Continuous Landscape” concept integrates three spatial typologies–landscape, social amenities, and dedicated workspace—by creating a seamless experience that weaves through the building.

Goals

The project’s design goal was to embody JTI’s brand values – enterprising, open, and challenging— by creating a workplace that dismantles corporate traditions. The client commissioned Liam Gillick to design a piece that would reinforce the notion of a “diagonal continuous landscape." Gillick’s envisioned contribution was to be expressed in a sculptural form in different work settings and stairs in the building to highlight the connectivity between the building’s nine stories.

The artist’s work was also purposed to contribute to the creation of a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and unique color palette.

The interior architects collaborated with the artist to extend the colors from each piece into the design of each floor, strategically adding color to compliment the grey palette of stainless steel, aluminum, carpet and wood. Ultimately, the pieces create a visual relationship between each separate piece and the design elements in social spaces and work areas.

Gillick’s art piece elegantly compliments JTI’s program, which emphasizes collaboration and social interaction. Blurring the dichotomy between art and architecture, Gillick’s work is seamlessly integrated into the built space as a holistic architectural element.

Process

SOM initiated workshops with the artist Liam Gillick upon concept phases of design to fully capture the artist’s intention to convey the building’s compelling geometry and art locations. The pieces designed are rectilinear “elements” made of powder coated aluminum that were designed and implemented by the artist. The collaboration with Gillick ultimately conceived a single composition comprised of distinct panels. Experienced from an individual floor, the five 20 feet by 45 feet individual pieces register as individual components, highly integrated into the palette of the interior design of each floor. The pieces create emissive chapters that generate a discourse that relates to the general theme of the project, a continuous landscape. Playing with notions of abstractions and architecture, Gillick challenges aspects of traditional corporate values. The composition is strategically implemented into JTI’s interior space as an immersive experience. The building’s occupants experience the expression of the work as a narrative that unfolds along the building’s interconnecting stairs to delineate the space for social interaction. The locations of the pieces become multi-functional areas where workers meet for coffee and collaborative work happens.

Additional Information

Liam Gillick is a British conceptual artist living in New York. His work has been exhibited in the Venice, Berlin and Istanbul Biennale, Guggenheim museum of art, New York. For over 75 years, SOM has influenced the built environment through planning, design, and innovation. As an interdisciplinary practice, we approach each project holistically. Our projects respond to and enhance their surroundings, adhere to higher standards of efficiency, and improve the quality of life of our clients. A global leader in corporate architecture, SOM will be designing the world’s most integrated, innovative, and sustainable workplaces for years to come.