AKA: Adobe Systems Incorporated, World Headquarters, San Jose, CA

Structure Type: Objects Facet – Built Environment – Built Complexes and Districts – complexes – complexes by function – office complexes; Objects Facet – Built Environment –Single Built Works – structures – single built works by form – single built works by form: height – multistory buildings –high-rise buildings – skyscrapers; Objects Facet – Built Environment –Single Built Works – structures – single built works by form – single built works by form: height – multistory buildings –high-rise buildings – tower buildings; built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) (firm); Webcor Builders, Incorporated (firm); George Francis Hellmuth (architect); George Edward Kassabaum (architect); Gyo Frederick Obata (architect)

Dates: constructed 1996-2003

18 stories, total floor area: 1,650,000 sq. ft.

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345 Park Avenue
Downtown, San Jose, CA 95110-2704

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The Adobe Systems Incorporated Corporate Headquarters included, in 2015, three office towers: the West Tower (18 floors) done in 1996, East Tower (16 floors), completed in 1998, and the Almaden Tower (17 floors), finished in 2003. The West Tower, containing approximately 391,000 square feet and the East Tower, encompassing about 325,000 square feet, accommodated the Adobe's Sales and Marketing and Research and Development divisions, while the Almaden Tower (with about 273,000 square feet) was "...built to house Adobe’s engineers, artists, scientists and IT professionals." (See HOK, "A Triple-Tower Headquarters for Adobe," accessed 04/07/2015.) All of the office towers occupied space atop a huge, partially-enclosed, 938,473-square-feet parking garage, with five stories above grade and two below.

Adobe commissioned the Saint Louis-based architectural firm of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, to produce an environmentally friendly design. After, 2001, Adobe worked with its property management company, Cushman-Wakefield. to implement 64 projects designed to lower energy consumption by 10%, in response to an electricity emergency declared by Governor Gray Davis (born 1942). As a result of this effort, the West Tower was certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an Energy Star compliant building. Five years later, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) also awarded the entire complex the LEED-EB Platinum rating, its highest level of energy efficiency and materials sustainability for existing buildings.

Building History

This tall, office-tower configuration constrasted with the usual suburban and horizontal research park setting of most Silicon Valley, high-tech companies. In part, this need for towers reflected the enormous growth of some tech companies like Adobe or Amazon in the early 2000s, forcing them to build skyscrapers to contain their sprawiling divisions. According to the headquarter's architect, HOK, "The high-rise environment respects the special needs of software industry workers, including closed offices to ensure privacy for engineers." (See HOK, "A Triple-Tower Headquarters for Adobe," accessed 04/07/2015.) For many years, the City of San Jose sought to draw businesses into the city center to resuscitate business and provide the city with more of an urban identity. Years of planning to reintegrate the Guadelupe River through Downtown was also a major city planning concern.

HOK planned for gradual tower expansion atop a capacious, multi-floor garage. The architectural vocabulary of the towers was strictly modern, with largely rectagular, white blocks located in a triangle, a shape suggesting Adobe's A logo. Each building, too, was conceived as a rectangle, with a diagonal line drawn the center, separating it into two A-shaped halves. The fenestration of each tower was designed to be consistent, composed of a gridded array of square windows. A double-height skybridge, located on level 13, linked the West and Almaden Towers. Various roof surfaces of the garage provided shared activity space for employees in all towers, the amenities including a sixth-floor patio, cafe and sky-high basketball court

HOK worked with a building team that included the building contractors Devcon Construction and Webcor Builders, the interior design firm ofValerio DeWalt Train (with offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Chicago), and the structural engineering/consulting firm, Nishkian | Menninger | Dean | Monks | Chamberlain of San Francisco.

The interior plan of the West Tower, conceived by Valerio DeWalt Train, contained a mix of openand closed personal workspaces and open and closed meeting rooms to accommodate increased collaborative activity. This mix consisted of "...a miscellany of shared spaces, of varying shapes and sizes and ranging from casual to formal, aptly labeled Entry Gate, Conference Room, Break Area, Breakout Space, Team Room, and Open Collaboration, to hint at their functions." (See Jennifer Busch, "The Mobile Office," accessed 04/08/2015.) The Adobe Headquarters underscored how important wireless communications were becoming for high-tech workers by 2010, or so. As Busch observed in her blog, "Wireless technology has untethered us to the point where it is no longer necessary to sit at one’s desk to be productive, and a heavy emphasis on collaboration in the workplace is pushing us toward working together in teams more than working independently. So, as interior design follows work culture, we see movement away from personal space and toward shared space within the most progressive office environments. Routinely, office workers are getting up from their desks—if they even have one—and going somewhere else within the office to work." Interestingly, this emphasis on mobility, getting up frequently from one's desk, occcurred at a time when medical literature encouraged office workers to walk more to guard against a myriad of health problems brought on by sedentariness.

Building Notes

On its Energy Star web site, the EPA listed some of the 64 energy-saving steps Adobe took to ease the burden on CA's overburdened power grid and to lower its own operating costs by $1.2 million annually: "Some of the projects included in the conservation effort include installation of variable frequency drive's on main supply fans, centrifugal chillers and other large motors, occupancy control of HVAC for 201 conference and meeting rooms, occupancy controlled stairwell lighting, rescheduling of garage fans and lighting operations, retrofitting first generation T8's to latest generation T8 lamp and ballasts, installation of occupancy controlled plug load strips in all offices, rewiring of lighting circuit zones and installation of real-time monitoring technology in order to effectively participate in state sponsored Demand Response programs, to name just a few." (See US EPA, "Energy Star Labeled Building Profile: Adobe, West Tower," accessed 04/07/2015.) The company's efforts proved successful both from an energy-saving and public-relations standpoint. In addition to Energy Star and LEED Platinum certification, the Adobe Corporate Headquarters achieved the State of CA, "Flex Your Power" campaign's "Best Overall" rating for Best Practices in Energy Management for Commercial Office Buildings, and the Association of Energy Engineers' "Energy Project of the Year"award.

PCAD id: 19541