Office N Illinois

Skender’s new Fulton Market headquarters: The workplace of the future here today?

Skender's new Fulton Market headquarters: The future is now?,ph01

Mark Skender, chief executive officer of Chicago’s Skender Construction, wanted to be surprised when his company’s new headquarters opened at 1330 W. Fulton St. in the city’s West Town neighborhood.

And surprised he was, pleasantly.

As Skender says, the company’s new headquarters in the Fulton West building in the Fulton Market area, exceeded all his expectations. The space is one designed to foster everything from large group meetings, to small-group collaboration to quiet study.

And that stunning view of the city from atop the nine-story Fulton West building? That doesn’t hurt, either.

“This is everthing we had hoped for,” Skender said. “We wanted a building that would foster the creativity of our people, that would inspire them to brainstorm ideas and come up with innovative ideas. We think this space does all of that.”

Clay Edwards, vice president with Skender, said that the company had outgrown its previous office space at 200 W. Madison St. That office covered 21,660 square feet. Skender’s new office is 38,000 square feet.

“Our company has been growing immensely during the last several years,” Edwards said. “We were getting a bit tight on space in our old office. We thought this new space would give us the chance to be creative and innovative with our workspace. The whole goal here is to give our people all the tools they need to be as creative as possible.”

The Fulton Market location is a plus, too. The area is becoming the new hotspot in the city for new construction. A look off Fulton West’s rooftop deck provides plenty of evidence of this: A host of construction cranes pierced the sky.

As Skender says, the new location is a selling point for workers: They will now get the chance to operate in a slice of the city in which there is a buzz that comes with the stead arrival of new homes, restaurants, shops and offices.

And then, once employees step into Skender’s actual offices? That’s another thrill, especially for first-timers, Skender says.

“We wanted people who walked through our doors to immediately get the sense that they were in a new type of working environment, that they were entering a space where things are done a bit differently,” Skender said. “We wanted those doors to open up to a collective sense of community.”

Skender, as of early October, was still the only tenant in the building. But companies Dyson and Glassdoor will soon join the company.

The central hub of the office, what Edwards calls its heart, is a large kitchen area with plenty of seating. It looks more like a coffee shop than an office. And there are plenty of candies, cookies and snacks on hand for workers here. There are plenty of coffee cups and several dishwashers.

Meeting space is handled differently here, with three separate, 1,100-square-foot spaces that can remain separate meeting rooms or can be joined together into larger areas. As many as 500 people, then, can gather for larger company-wide meetings, while smaller groups can separate the meeting spaces into individual areas. There’s charm here, too, as the meeting spaces are set apart by glass garage doors.

There’s a cozy waiting area here, complete with an old-school record player and vinyl records. Edwards says that on Friday afternoons, it’s not unusual to hear music coming from this area as employees gather to unwind or brainstorm ideas.

The pictures with this story tell the tale better than words can. So take a look at them. It’s not stretching to say that Skender’s space really does represent the open, collaborative workspace of the future.