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Crafting Clarity in Concrete: A+I Transforms Squarespace Headquarters into an Architectural Triumph

A+I, an architectural agency that relies on strategy and data to inform their designs, intelligently crafted a space for one of the globe's most triumphant web publishing platforms, Squarespace. Their goal was to translate Squarespace's core values into a workplace that exuded both functionality and elegance, mirroring the clarity and sophistication inherent in the company's product.

A+I’s comprehensive 3-month exploratory of Squarespace’s people, values, and culture unearthed a design ethos that blended their findings into a physical space.


Bird's eye view of the rooftop space at Squarespace headquarters.

The concept aimed to tackle the disorder and disarray often found beneath the surface of the creative process. It sought to capture the essence of clarity integral to the brand and its culture while ensuring a consistent brand experience throughout the company's headquarters. The objective was to make work--and its physical space--as effortless and aesthetically pleasing as the Squarespace platform itself. It was apparent that this project was less about glamor and more about getting real – about the space getting out of the way and turning the attention to its inhabitants.

The project transformed a historic New York City manufacturing building into a greenhouse for creativity. Spanning over 160,000 square feet, the headquarters now occupies five full floors - including a spacious street-level frontage, a private lobby, intimate and collaborative spaces, an open-air rooftop, and event spaces. Situated within Manhattan's Printing House District, an area once dedicated to print publication, it now houses a leading trailblazer in online publishing.

Wide shot of the interior of Squarespace headquarters.

Leveraging Concrete

Adhering to Squarespace's dedication to minimalism and timelessness, the architecture avoids vibrant color schemes and instead relies on the depth and texture of its materials to convey a sense of richness in design, subtly articulating the purpose of each space.

"In selecting finishes for the project, it was important for all of the materials to have depth and movement, and have a life of its own since the palette was so reserved. In addition, the use of concrete was a nod to the existing structure of the space, a concrete printing facility," said Elizabeth Benzur and Elaine Maillot of A+I. 

The primary focus at Squarespace is programming and coding work. Areas that allowed for both individual and collaborative workspaces needed to coexist. That meant lots of open, even blank space, that would permit the unfettered flow of creative energy.

Clean and pristine spaces, natural lighting, and custom cast bench-desks that promote flexibility are design elements that let the work be the focus.

The Squarespace project is essentially a business mission statement brought to life, and accomplishing this vision required an out-of-the-box approach to creation. It was only natural that A+I decided to team up with the artisans at Trueform Concrete.

Concrete – an omnipresent force in the city – cleverly finds its way into nearly all of the spaces in this project. “From the polished floors to the rooftop kitchen, A+I clearly recognizes the malleability and usefulness of concrete and has essentially woven it into the very fabric of this project. It’s one of the most stunning spaces we’ve ever been a part of,” said Paul Grech, creative director at Trueform.

Custom concrete desks in black at the Squarespace headquarters.

Designer Desks

Squarespace’s concrete desks, designed as continuous, legless tables, offer adaptability and opportunities for teamwork. They flow organically throughout the open space allowing for both collaboration and personal space.

Beyond being nearly iconic in their appearance and arrangement, the concrete desks are intended to provide optimum work flexibility – and this flexibility is inherent in their design. Support is achieved from their “waterfall” terminals and through central, spine-like columns, making the seating area entirely unencumbered.

Both the chairs and the cubbies are on wheels such that employees can move to other locations rather easily. Wire knockouts run through the center like highway lines, further enabling mobility.

The design and fabrication process was considerable. "Trueform was extremely dedicated to finding solutions. We presented them with challenges--like the desks--that had never been attempted by Trueform and rarely, if ever, constructed in the industry before," commented Benzer and Maillot.

Each of the many pieces in this configuration is unique – and several of the desks had to appear as if they were integrated into the support columns. “Like a large puzzle, we had to create these modules individually in our New Jersey facility and then assemble them so that they would appear as a series of meandering, monolithic objects,” said Grech.

Outdoor space on the rooftop at Squarespace headquarters.

Rooftop Oasis

Squarespace’s rooftop is yet another triumph for A+I. Designing with concrete enabled the team to forgo the use of flimsy outdoor furniture and opt for an environment that literally appears as an extension of the building. This was achieved by the fabrication of large, weighty objects that all share common shapes, colors, and textures. The space resonates not only with the building’s interior, but with the city at large.

Rooftop space at Squarespace lit up at night.

Durable enough for sun, rain, and snow, concrete is the ideal material for not only functionality, but for aesthetics too. The style matches the spare minimalism of the interior design yet also has a festive air.

Rooftop entertaining space with concrete bar and bar stools.

Grech stated, “Since we hand-fabricated these pieces from top to bottom, we were able to integrate wiring into the lounge seats and countertops so that the pieces could be underlit. The overall effect is beautiful and adds some intimacy to an otherwise open space.”

Exterior facade of the Squarespace headquarters building.

Exterior Façade

At the entrance on the street level, concrete manifests in a distinct manner. What initially appears as dark wooden slats reveals itself to be intricately crafted concrete panels. These panels embody a unique fusion, marrying the inviting warmth of wood with the enduring resilience of concrete.

Benzer and Maillot related, "Previously, there was pressed wood veneer on the exterior of the building. Needless to say, in a couple of years, it began to 
delaminate. We reached out to Trueform and they were able to take a sample of the original wood, make a mold out of it, and cast the whole thing back up in a more waterproof concrete."

Crafted through our exclusive Woodform® technique, the façade encapsulates the essence of wood while retaining the robust nature of concrete.

“The front entrance holds one of the more interesting expressions of concrete we were asked to create,” said Grech. A+I sought a curved beadboard look that tapers into the entrance – essentially welcoming its employees. The trick was that it had to appear urban, historical, and in harmony with the rusted metal around it.

Grech continued, “We worked with the design team on a concept whereby we cast concrete against a form fashioned with evenly-spaced wood strips swept along a radius. The cast panels were then stained to simulate blackened wood, and the vertical slats inadvertently enabled us to install the panels while hiding any seams. The result is a façade that integrates effortlessly into the building.”

Collage of the spaces at Squarespace with lots of concrete.

Finished Project

Whether you are simply walking by or touring one of the six floors of Squarespace headquarters, from top to bottom this space is something special. From the earliest planning phases to the final finishing touches, A+I composed an enduring space that was true to itself and the people inside it.

“It was truly a pleasure to partner with A+I. We share many of the same values – especially our mutual the attention to detail. The way our clients continue to arrive at concrete as a viable A&D solution will never cease to inspire us at Trueform” said Grech.

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