Climbing the stairs in one of the new buildings at Adidas’ corporate campus in Portland, Oregon, you can’t help but roll your eyes. In plaster on the underside of the staircase are brightly colored supergraphs of lines and patterned shapes. First appearing as abstract art, the images quickly trigger the mind to recall a familiar, albeit underappreciated, design: the sole of a sneaker.
Sole patterns are just one element of the graphic-heavy design approach behind two new buildings on the Adidas campus: one a collaboration-focused office space for designers, the other a center for fitness shop. Designed by the San Francisco-based company Studio O+A and LEVER Architectureboth buildings use the apparel brand’s designs and materials, along with a subtle dose of sports-centric imagery, to celebrate the ubiquitous but perhaps overlooked design flourishes that abound in sports gear and apparel of the company.
Adding to a campus with seven pre-existing buildings, these two new buildings and a football field between them act as a social hub for the company’s North American headquarters. At a time when going to the office is far from obvious, these projects suggest ways that corporate buildings themselves can still project a brand’s vision and identity, even when most of its employees are advancing this vision and identity from home.
The office building is a six-story, glass-walled space. Combining precast concrete and solid wood, the building leaves its unique structure exposed in raw, open studio spaces. It’s a collaborative work environment, with a variety of workstations, including bookcase-style tables, sofas, and wheeled “designer tables” covered in rolls of fabric or prototype shoes. race. Almost all furniture is movable and rooms are regularly reconfigured.
On the other side of the football field is a building that bears the mark in another way. Called Performance Zone, the space is focused on the health, wellness and fitness of Adidas employees, with two levels dedicated to gym space and exercise studios and a third that includes a bar juice and a coworking space. A rooftop lounge overlooks the field below.
Like the office building, the performance area features strong visuals, like stadium-style supergraphs identifying bathroom entrances and numbered staircases to quantify a vertical workout. Pegboard is used for directional signage, allowing the company to reorient space and relocate departments and workstations according to projects.
The design of this project began about four years ago, but flexibility has always been a guiding concept, even before the pandemic. The architects ensured that the spaces could be easily reconfigured by staff, without the need for a contractor to knock down a wall or subdivide an office. The space has already been reconfigured in response to a pandemic-related increase in remote working, with individual desks being removed from certain areas and replaced with more collaborative workspaces. “While we may not have had the foresight to understand what would drive the need for this change, we understood there would be a need for change,” said Mindi Weichman, Design Director of Studio O. +A.
Although the Adidas brand is well known for its three-stripe pattern, that familiar logo has been used sparingly, according to Weichman. “When you’re in the space, you get the general feeling that you’re immersed in the brand, but you don’t necessarily need to have logos or very prominent brand elements on your face to understand that.” , she says.
Other elements that have made the leap into the world of sports include Adidas fabrics that have been incorporated into the acoustic panels of the office building and signage inspired by that of sports stadiums.
But the graphic treatments in the building – at the bottom of the stairs, in the wayfinding, in the bathroom signage – are the main design move. The staircase in particular was intended to be a highlight, with the graphics visible to those going up and down, but also through the large windows on the front facade of the building, which frame the staircase as the central artery of the building. for people nearby. courtyard and on the soccer field below.
“We considered making abstractions of pitch lines or working with the Olympic rings and colors. But ultimately it’s looking at what’s in our own environment, and looking at the beauty, the detail and the geometry that’s at the bottom of a shoe,” says Elizabeth Vereker, director of the Studio O+A brand. “It’s a reminder that design is everywhere and that design is embedded in everything Adidas does.”