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Cochlear North American Headquarters entrance with white reception desk in front of backlit logo with wood ceiling accents
Cochlear North American Headquarters

Weaving a Multi-sensory Experience

Client

Cochlear

Project Location

Denver, CO

Area

160,000 SF

Services

Interiors, landscape architecture, XGD, acoustics, lighting

Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. They believe that hearing connects us to our world, to small everyday wonders, and to the people and experiences we love. About 500 of Cochlear’s global employees call the North American Headquarters home. Candid input from a diverse group of stakeholders was gathered before design began, informing a design parti rooted in Cochlear’s culture: collaborative community woven together by passion.

Unique colors, textures, and spaces represent the personalities and talents of recipients and employees alike. Their stories and innovative ideas together craft the Cochlear cloth. Just as threads entwine to form fabric, so the headquarters connects spaces to generate interactions and intersections between people, brought together through their dedication to Cochlear’s mission.

"Hear and Be Heard"

Welcome

Rendering of white office lobby with wood accents from aerial view with labeled arrows of destinations of potential pathways

You've Arrived at Cochlear

The welcoming entry sequence directs practitioners to lab and training areas to the right, visitors and recipients to the experience center on the left, and employees to secure and social spaces straight ahead. Easy access enclosed huddle rooms allow for quick meetings or interviews to take place outside of the secure employee zone.

Innovation on Display

The heart of Cochlear is the technical expertise that informs their cutting-edge implants. Placing the surgical training lab and related research spaces including sound booths with a view into the board room underscores the critical connection between Cochlear’s business and operational functions, and their innovations through research and development. When confidential trainings or experiments are occurring in the lab, the flip of a switch turns the transparent glass opaque.

Choice-Based Workplace

Work Modalities is an evidence-based system that marries function and feeling to support the whole employee and their choices. It is supported by both findings from dozens of published academic research studies, and by the people who work in offices designed with these principles. At Cochlear, a transformative program focuses on the modes of collaboration and learning modes, as well as indoor environmental quality upgrades. The new headquarters includes:

  • Four times as many conference and open collaboration spaces as the previous offices, with eight types of collaboration rooms for a spectrum of size and technology needs
  • A “learning workplace” that emphasizes professional development opportunities in dedicated training areas with over 200 seats, lab and adjacent research spaces, and customer experience space.
  • Indoor environmental quality features including sound clouds and sound masking for acoustical attenuation, 100% glare-minimized LED lighting, and stress-reducing biophilic screening.

Cochlear’s amenities revolve around shared experiences, as well as grace and the opportunity for mental restoration. The expansive Café and microcafes on every floor anchor the convivial side of the amenity program. The fitness center offers group classes as well as individual equipment. On upper floors, coveted perimeter space with spectacular mountain views – which would typically be reserved for private executive offices – is ceded to “screen free” relaxation platforms where employees curl up in cozy rocking chairs and experience the stress-reduction benefits of biophilic screening.

Rendering of white dining space with wood floor from aerial view with labeled sections and arrows pointing out to patio

The Cochlear Café offers options to fuel every employee’s workday. Linger over a hot breakfast or lunch from the full servery backed by a commercial kitchen. Grab a snack from “quick eats” options, or a pick-me-up from the barista-staffed café stand. Bonding over a meal with VIP guests? Settle into the board-room style private dining room, looking out over the bustle of the cafe and the landscaped courtyard that beckons through a series of garage doors.

It’s in the Details

The curves of Cochlear’s signature nautilus are echoed in lighting and glass graphics, and are contrasted by repetitive linear screens. A thoughtful textile program features sound deadening felts and nubby, touchable softness, while not sacrificing cleanability and durability. A recipient-created art program adds personal meaning to the lasting impact of Cochlear’s mission. Warm natural-finish wood and an abundance of plant life complete the inviting aesthetic: “better than home.”

Experiential Graphic Design

This is Cochlear’s first location to incorporate new brand guidelines. Our XGD team helped translate those guidelines into physical space by considering color theory, scale, repetition vs novelty, and transparency vs opacity. Full-size mockups of key elements helped the client to understand the impact that small details can have on employee experience, such as tuning the translucence of supergraphic window film to achieve the perfect levels of privacy in enclosed collaboration and focus rooms.

Process and Change Management

While change is constant, understanding its drivers and preparing the people who will be impacted increases the likelihood of it positively sticking. Our team dove into this project by listening to learn. Visioning sessions uncovered design opportunities to support Cochlear’s desired future culture: open, flexible, high-tech, and innovative. Emotionally, connection to recipients and the sense of empowerment that comes with hearing were critical. Functionally, swapping silos and hierarchy for transparency and collaboration was vital. This candid feedback informed the program, as well as the design parti and eventual execution.

As Cochlear transitioned to their new headquarters, we led a comprehensive change management program geared toward retention. Communication across multiple channels supported employees through change stages of Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, and ensures that everyone gets the most out of their new workplace.

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