interior of tech company Lenovo's headquarters campus

A Tech Giant’s Headquarters Is the Site of Environmental and Social Innovation

CallisonRTKL’s design for computer-maker Lenovo’s new campus in Beijing activates public space while earning both LEED Gold and the China GBL 3-Star rating.

Located in ZGC Software Park, a sprawling suburban complex of offices and factories in Beijing, the Lenovo headquarters accommodates 13,000 of the global technology giant’s workers. Designed by CallisonRTKL (CRTKL) and opened in 2018, the project is not only a milestone in the company’s office design history but was also designed to serve as a catalyst for workplace and cultural transformation, before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The facility performs more as a work in process, an open framework and mechanism that focuses more on activity and experiences,” says Xiaoguang Liu, a principal of CRTKL. “It distinguishes itself with spatial and program diversity and a high level of urbanity throughout the campus,” Lui adds. The result emphasizes interconnectivity, corporate responsibility, and vitality in urban public spaces.

A core virtue of the headquarters’ design is openness. The architects programmed 50 percent of the project as accessible public amenity spaces for the community—an unprecedented example in the Zhongguancun science & technology zone, which, with a profusion of other tech giants, is often referred to as “China’s Silicon Valley.” The innovation lies in the spatial relationships between buildings and streets. Prior to the pandemic, these spaces were used to host community activities in the software park, from professional exchanges to fairs and sports events. “While the pandemic and restrictions are severely limiting social gatherings and communal activities, they also built up the desire and demand for [creative opportunities] throughout the early stages of the pandemic,” notes Liu.

interior of tech company Lenovo's headquarters campus where a  climbing wall is inside an atrium
Designed as a fluid space for Lenovo’s 13,000 workers, many of the headquarters’ amenities are also publicly accessible for the ZGC Software Park community. Inside the lobby, visitors will find a rock-climbing wall, bookstore, restaurant, and more. COURTESY ©CRTKL

The 4-million-square-foot facility is divided into eastern and western parcels bisected by the communication pathway Canyon Concourse, which connects them. The campus’s collection of horizontal buildings are organized around a string of enclosed and semi-enclosed interlocking courtyards that act as transition spaces between rooms while providing ample access to green space and daylight. According to Liu, the courtyards have been a critical asset during pandemic times, hosting numerous outdoor events from fashion shows to exhibitions in order to keep the workers inspired and connected to the community.

interior of an atrium at tech company Lenovo's headquarters campus
In 2018, global tech company Lenovo opened its global headquarters in Beijing. Designed by CallisonRTKL, the campus’s flexible design incorporates ample open courtyards, green spaces, and flexible areas for community events. COURTESY ©CRTKL/YIHUAI HU

The main office buildings are south- and-north-facing, and narrow in width in order to allow daylight to reach their interiors. The design echoes traditional principles of Chinese building typology, prioritizing natural lighting and automated lighting control.

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With sustainability in mind, CRTKL prioritized design strategies that put environmental resilience first. Automated window systems allow for passive ventilation, while efficient water conservation and management measures employ rainwater collection and stormwater retention, permeable pavement, and graywater recycling. Lenovo’s centralized heating system is also supported by geothermal heat pumps, contributing to the project’s LEED Gold rating.

interior of atrium with catwalks overhead and a stairway on the left hand side

The spacious lobby hall and interior plaza house Lenovo’s publicly accessible lifestyle amenities, which include a rock-climbing wall, coffee shop, bookstore, restaurant, brand showroom, auditorium, multi-function hall, conference center, exhibition center, mobile workstations, and informal meeting spaces. “The company,” Liu says, “is very encouraged to see that employees are engaging in a variety of activities in the space—team building events, art fairs, product launches, family days, business education programs, and creative activities led by Gen-Z team members.” It’s a place that supports the company’s goal of creating a more inclusive company culture that’s integrated into employees’ lives.

“Lenovo is tasked to renew its legacy in a dual quest for adaptability and integrity. On one hand, it wants to embrace changes and uncertainties and be future-ready; on the other hand, it honors timeless values and seeks long-term sustainability,” says Liu. “It is one step short of a radical hybrid workplace, but with a more realistic infrastructure and a proactive choice that recognizes the invariable nature of the workplace while allowing greater flexibility.” The headquarters’ resilience and consistent performance during the pandemic attest to the value of public spaces in private workplaces. 

exterior of lenovo headquarters, an orange staircase is visible through a glass wall
The campus is organized around a series of enclosed and semi-enclosed courtyards, inspired by a traditional Chinese building typology that helps protect the buildings from harsh winter winds while also supporting ample daylight. By integrating green courtyards, landscaping, and water conservation management, the headquarters has achieved both U.S. Green Building criteria and the China GBL 3-Star. COURTESY ©CRTKL

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