Building 4, one of the original buildings on the Redmond campus, has just undergone a massive refurbishment, transforming it from the traditional one-office-per-employee layout to a modern, open space with an emphasis on collaboration and natural light.
The Garage at Microsoft, behind three glass-paned garage doors in the newly renovated Building 4 on the company's Redmond, Wash., campus, is a bright, spacious room with whiteboard walls, a large touch-screen display, a plethora of chairs and tables, and a reputation for grassroots innovation.
The X-shaped building was one of the first four that Microsoft moved into when the company came to Redmond in 1986. Chairman Bill Gates' first Redmond campus office was on the building's second floor and overlooks a pond that came to be known as Lake Bill.
The Garage's new location provides more room, and in November it will be equipped with tools for hardware projects, including soldering guns, laser cutters and a 3-D printer. The Garage is a main floor anchor of the newly remodeled Building 4, home of the Office Research, Experimentation and Design (RED) Team. The team researches, experiments, and designs for Microsoft Office.
"The Garage got better, but a lot of things got better," Hawkins said of the Building 4 renovation.
The building will eventually house about 200 people, and is doing so in a rather revolutionary way. Prior to Building 4's renovation, it was configured primarily of private offices and conference rooms. That configuration has been flipped; most employees sit in "pods" and open spaces, and rather than reserving rooms for group conferences, they reserve private "focus" rooms.
The building has more than 60 touch-screen monitors in pod rooms, focus rooms and conference rooms. It also has its own fleet of bicycles that employees can use to travel between buildings for meetings, and the kitchens and cafeteria have more public space. One of the most talked-about features of the new building is in the cafeteria - a Coca-Cola Freestyle touch-screen soda fountain featuring more than 100 combinations of soda and flavors.
Here are some pictures of the Building 4:
John Snavely from the Office RED team gives us a tour of the new and improved work spaces in building 4 including the bike rack, work shop, Garage and "Soda-TRON 2000".
[Source: Microsoft Press]