How Design Firm Spectorgroup Created a Hybrid Hive at 200 Madison Avenue

It started with ditching the formal reception area

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When commercial design firm Spectorgroup decided to move two blocks north on Madison Avenue, it had the opportunity to redesign its offices for a more relaxed hybrid work environment. 

Scott Spector, the firm’s principal, said he organized a series of meetings and surveys with his staff during the height of the pandemic to decide how their new space would work. 

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“We went through a full process as if we were the client,” he explained. “I think we came out of the process with a space people actually want to come to three days a week.”

The firm — which was founded 60 years ago by Spector’s late father, Michael Harris Spector — occupied the second floor of 183 Madison Avenue in Midtown South when the pandemic hit. Then, in October 2021, it nailed down a larger, 15,500-square-foot space at 200 Madison Avenue, “with a good tenant improvement allowance and free rent period,” said Spector. 

He described Spectorgroup’s new offices as having “a lot more warmth than our prior space. It’s much more communal. There’s no formal reception area.”

Instead of a reception area, visitors walk into a casual lounge with a long table and chairs, leather booth seats, low gray couches and orange armchairs arrayed around circular pedestal coffee tables. The space can also seat 60 people and includes a retractable screen for company meetings. There is also a layer of beaded felt along the ceiling to dampen sound. 

To the right of the lounge, behind a wall, is the company’s materials lab. The architects bring their clients in and allow them to see and touch samples of tiles, floors, millwork and furniture materials, in order to make decisions easier during the design process for a project. On the wall is a TV where architects can walk clients through 3D models of their desired space. 

On the other side of the entryway lounge is a long, glassed-in conference room, and behind it is the rest of the office. That includes more glassed-in meeting rooms of various sizes, including one with a wall that has been converted to a floor-to-ceiling whiteboard surrounded by dark blue armchairs. There’s also a fully enclosed room with a virtual reality headset where designers can interact with environments in 3D; small work rooms with a desk, chair and monitor; and Spector’s bare bones office, which doubles as a small meeting room. Rounding out the office is the pantry, which is outfitted with white marble countertops and blonde wood cabinetry, a lactation room with a fridge and sink, and the main open workstation area.

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com