Autodesk, AEC Headquarters

Waltham, Massachusetts

BusinessWeek/Architectural Record Awards Winner

By Joann Gonchar, AIA

When software vendor Autodesk decided to move the headquarters for its architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) operations from subleased space to a just-completed speculative office building, division executives knew the fit-out would not be a routine corporate interiors project. The design and construction process would have to demonstrate the company’s own building information modeling (BIM) software and its industry strategies, explains Phil Bernstein, FAIA, Autodesk vice president. “It needed to be 100 percent BIM and pure IPD,” he says, referring to the collaborative practice model known as integrated project delivery.

Photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
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For the new headquarters, a multiparty agreement gave Autodesk, the architect-engineer KlingStubbins, and the contractor Tocci each a financial stake in the project, providing all with an incentive to help ensure a positive outcome. One of the many advantages of this arrangement was that it allowed the early involvement of subcontractors, since bidding was not a required part of the selection process. Input from subs was especially helpful for complex aspects of the project, such as the digitally milled ceiling that floats above a ground-floor space. Its configuration was conceived in consultation with the fabricator. “We needed to understand the limitations of the CNC [computer numerically controlled] equipment,” says Chris Leary, AIA, KlingStubbins project director.

This ceiling is the defining element of a briefing center where customers view exhibits and test products. From an adjoining atrium that cuts through the building’s three floors, they catch a glimpse of the activity in the office levels above. “It gives visitors a sense of the buzz of the space,” says Leary.

With Autodesk occupying the building only since early 2009, it is too soon to quantify its influence on the bottom line. However, the briefing center’s popularity with design and construction-industry organizations provides one indication of success. In addition to almost twice-weekly Autodesk sales presentations, the center has served as the site for professional networking events and other gatherings, helping raise the profile of the company and its products. “As a marketing phenomenon,” says Bernstein, “the project has been successful beyond our wildest dreams.”

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