The legendary architect Daniel Burnham was famously quoted as saying “make no little plans.” Arnold Worldwide tried to live up to his ambition when the ad agency moved to 10 Summer St., into what’s known as the Burnham Building.
In August, 700 employees of Arnold and its parent company, Havas, relocated from the Back Bay to a 115,000-square-foot space in Downtown Crossing. It was more than just a move. It was a chance to change the way employees interact.
In the Back Bay, most workers had their own offices. Now, no one does. Even Pam Hamlin, Arnold’s global president, sits at a table in an open floor plan. The goal, Hamlin said, is to encourage more cooperation among colleagues.
“When we walked into here it was dilapidated, but you could see what it could become,” said Hamlin, whose team deliberately picked a smaller historic building over a charmless skyscraper.
The decor features a mix of modern fixtures and old brick walls. This century-old structure is better known as the Filene’s Building, and the site’s place in retail history is reflected in the names of its conference rooms: They’re all department names, like “Knitwear” and “Weddings and Receptions.” There’s also more than 4,000 square feet of production space for photo and video shoots and editing, as well as for audio recording and mixing.
A wide lobby greets visitors on the eighth floor, with sunlight streaming down from above and a central staircase to the floor below. That’s where the office bar — aka “Barnold” — is opened up for Thursday night socials and special occasions. A roof deck overlooking Washington Street will be built adjacent to the fifth-floor cafe.
Visitors will notice unusual artwork — charts and graphs — in gold frames on the walls. These illustrate client successes: additional market share for Titleist golf balls, more checking accounts at Santander, a decline in smoking as tracked by the Centers for Disease Control.
For Hamlin, the building’s pioneering role in the retail industry was also an attraction. “The bones of this building — it was almost spooky how they were aligned to how we think about our business,” Hamlin said.
Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.