COURTESY JASPER SANIDAD

A Santa Monica Headquarters by RIOS Supports Hybridized Work Routines

For tech company GoodRx, the Los Angeles–based firm designed a 76,000-square-foot HQ filled with flexible workspaces and biophilic design elements.

 How do designers incorporate recent lessons learned about the future of work? Instead of prognosticating how office environments might evolve post-pandemic, Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design firm RIOS seized the opportunity to consider—almost in real time—how it could optimize a corporate headquarters for hybridized work routines.

“We have clients who are there for the adventure and willing to take risks,” RIOS creative director and partner Andy Lantz says. At the 76,000-square-foot, two-story Santa Monica, California, home base of tech company GoodRx, the RIOS team transformed what had been a raw warehouse space in the Pen Factory—a former pen manufacturing facility—that retains remnants of its industrial past. 

Much like all of our work, [this approach] was borrowed from urban design.

Andy Lantz, creative director and partner, RIOS
interior of goodrx headquarters designed by RIOS
In 2020, tech company GoodRx opened up a new Santa Monica headquarters located within a former pen manufacturing warehouse. Designed by Los Angeles–based multidisciplinary design firm RIOS, the 76,000-square-foot HQ is filled with flexible workspace, biophilic design elements, and a variety of social and wellness spaces from cafés to meditation rooms.COURTESY JASPER SANIDAD

“Much like all of our work, [the approach] was borrowed from urban design,” Lantz explains. He envisioned engagement in the workspace as “functioning more like a city” than a static setting where schedules and patterns are firmly set. Akin to a crossroads, the lobby leads into an expansive, naturally lit atrium that fills visitors with a sense of serendipity and discovery. Describing the different sections of the project, Lantz uses terms like “Main Street” and “Central Park.”

Given that employees are “juggling a work-from-home-and-at-the-office model, I think they want to be more social,” Lantz observes, noting that the heart of the office is a café and juice bar that helps foster organic interactions among staff. The café contains custom tables and seating by Klein Agency, alongside ample skylights, lush indoor plants, and stepped risers. The sourcing and supply chain challenges during the pandemic turned into a silver lining; 97.8 percent of the furnishings were made within 30 miles of the site. 

“The perception of a pharmaceutical company is very sterile,” says Andrew Barrett-Weiss, GoodRx’s director of workplace experience. Co-CEOs Doug Hirsch and Trevor Bezdek wanted the effort to be about “creating an environment that feels human.” Because working from home has demonstrated how workers can feel stuck when spending the entire day in a single location, the team recognizes the need to support new habits. With flex desks, 80 percent of the seating is unassigned, so employees can reserve a seat before heading into the office.

interior of goodrx headquarters designed by RIOS
Upon entering, employees and guests are greeted by a large central atrium known as “Central Park.” Twenty-five percent of all interior spaces rely on natural light pouring in from skylights, which also support the lush plantings throughout. Outside, an edible garden allows for employees to harvest fruit for use at the in-office juice bar. COURTESY JASPER SANIDAD

The café area designated as “Central Park” transitions to the “all hands” quasi-auditorium, which features a stagelike platform, digital wall, and path to additional meeting rooms and workspaces. The RIOS team carved out a corridor with corduroy-upholstered banquettes and enclosed meeting rooms lined with cork acoustical panels, as well as textile selections reminiscent of American fiber wall art from the 1960s and ’70s. “We were really obsessed with corduroy,” Lantz notes. “We like to be very tactile.” 

From an architectural and engineering standpoint, the greenhouselike library is essentially a building-within-a-building. Sofas by L.A. designer Stephen Kenn and Eero Saarinen Executive leather armchairs offer comfortable lounging, and a backdrop of 150 square feet shelves with books, accessories, and vintage games adds to what Lantz dubs a “high-low” sensibility.

In a structure of this size, wayfinding is key. Downstairs, a black band stained into the concrete floor serves as a visual marker of a traffic loop.” Upstairs, a series of elevated walkways connects the offices and suites. Since GoodRx’s app-based technology matches consumers with competitively priced pharmaceuticals, the executive offices and collaborative areas literally and figuratively emphasize the company’s mission of transparency. 

interior of goodrx headquarters designed by RIOS
While the workplace was designed with collaboration in mind, employees have plenty of room to spread out over a variety of lounge areas and workstations. Employees have an estimated 150 square feet per person. COURTESY JASPER SANIDAD

A minimalist wellness room can host yoga and meditation classes and has even hosted company blood drives. The dedicated mothers’ room provides space for two to three mothers if they want company and conversation. 

A hidden janitor’s closet with cheeky knickknacks leads to what Lantz calls “the pièce de résistance.” There’s almost a sacred air inside the speakeasy centered on the vintage bar that Scottish designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh originally designed for the St. Mungo Vintners Pub in Glasgow, Scotland, sometime during the early 20th century. When the bar closed in the 1970s, antiques importer and dealer Mitchell Litt shipped the treasure to Los Angeles, where it waited for its next home. Millworker Art Carrasco of Artcrafters spearheaded the bar restoration and installation. New elements, such as Aperture series sconces by Allied Maker and gold-leaf-on-cork Cubism collection wallpaper from Innovations, add to the room’s layered look and feel. It’s a unique perk of an unorthodox workplace that avoids the clichés of tech company culture. 

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