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When global design firm Gensler was asked to envision the Customer Center office space for billion dollar-grossing company Riverbed Technology, the assigned team definitely thought out of the box—going with a down-to-earth approach for this decidedly high tech business. With a deep understanding about how interior spaces effect those who work within them, the Gensler team created a tranquil oasis finished in natural materials and earthy tones.

Riverbed’s headquarters, located in downtown San Francisco, constitute 163,000 square feet of usable space on six floors designated as the work home of approximately 950 employees specializing in Application Performance Infrastructure. The company’s Customer Center is located on the sixth floor.

For this space, Gensler sought to address “…our innate and inherent desire, conscious or subconscious, to be connected to familiar natural habitats” through the application of biophilia, which presupposes that humans are instinctually connected to nature. The designers hoped that the use of this simple concept in the design of the space would influence the emotional wellbeing of the building’s users in a profound manner, positively changing the overall day-to-day experience of the human condition in the workplace over time.

To achieve this effect, Crossville’s Shades porcelain tile was specified, in tones reminiscent of river rocks—a nod to the company’s name—to create visual representations of nature. This is evident in the Customer Center’s long, curving corridor, which is inspired by the undulating curves of a living river. The bright space, illuminated by day light, encourages movement, while also creating a restorative retreat for employees, who may be either opting for a few minutes of calm away from their desks or traveling from one task to another. In either case, the corridor temporarily pulls employees from the high tech world of screens and deadlines into a peaceful escape of earthy tones and solid, natural materials underfoot.

Interestingly, the Gensler team reports that the project, designed around a personal connection with nature, provided them with reason to embrace sustainability in a new way. Within the design, innovation, and manufacturing, the intention was to set an example for future projects about the collective need to respect, protect and learn from the natural world.

The building in which the Customer Center is located is LEED Gold, and the project leaders are pursuing LEED certification for the Center, as well. Crossville offers product solutions, documentation, and support for those seeking LEED certification. Shades by Crossville, with its third-party certified recycled content, answers a range of priorities for this unique project and is a sustainable surfacing choice offering lasting beauty and performance to match the building’s aesthetic and lifecycle.