Major League Baseball’s new digs provide a refined home for the baseball community in the bustling center of Midtown. Though this headquarters brings together two core business units for the first time, there is no question that baseball is at the center of it all. STUDIOS worked with MLB to realize a world-class headquarters supporting the innovative work of the employees while embodying the future and heritage of baseball.
Major League Baseball decided to unite their two main entities under the same roof, the Office of the Commissioner and MLB Advanced Media. This consolidation would mark a new era for the organization and support the “One Baseball” initiative set out by the commissioner in 2015. Bringing the two together establishes a cohesive identity for the entire organization while also realizing pragmatic synergies of a single space and simply fostering connections and integration of groups united for a shared purpose.
1271 Avenue of the Americas provided a dynamic canvas with which to imagine a complex, program-rich headquarters. The former Time & Life Building sits among a group of mid-century buildings on sixth avenue which all provide a similar challenge—large, bar-shaped, deep floor plates—but STUDIOS found planning and design solutions to embrace and celebrate these unique quirks. We were able to bring a rigor to the planning of the large, unique floor plates, leveraging the unique characteristics to create a framework for programs. The deepest parts of the floor are utilized for spaces that don’t need light—tech rooms and support—while the perimeter is given to the open workstations with a mix of structured and informal collaboration for quick meetings. Finally the idiosyncratic corners of the building were celebrated with destination and unique program elements including artful agile seating areas and color saturated conferencing space.
With a population of 1,200 and a diverse range of functions, STUDIOS developed a set of 5 workstyles to accommodate the needs and work process. Media workstations mimic high-tech newsrooms, 120 degree surface allowing for multi-screen use and easy team collaboration with a ticker of live data overhead while legal and corporate teams’ larger workstation accommodates increased storage and work surfaces. These workstyles alternate across the floor creating a unique landscape of working groups which can easily grow or shrink as needed.
With an efficient workplace structure set in place, the focus shifts to the space which brings the diverse community together. Leveraging the deepest and most central portion of the floorplate as the heart of the project, STUDIOS created a triple-height destination. Just like the awe-inspiring stadiums their 30 teams call home, the aptly named Concourse connects people of all groups with a coffee bar at one end, stairs careening to the next floor, and physical and visual connections to primary program elements. Three pantries stacked atop each other are the only cafe point for each workplace floor setting up chance encounters between the many teams.
The Concourse boasts a triple-height, canted architectural feature wall on which media is projected—catering to the 21st century interpretation of MLB with live updates, statistics, and game content. The wall takes on an identity of its own, undulating in triangular patterns reminiscent of a baseball diamond. This distinctive architectural and cultural feature supports the many ways in which the baseball community can come together in this headquarters.
The building also offered top-tier amenity opportunities critical to a headquarters of this size and stature, including terraces and a double-height auditorium now called the Ponti Pavilion. But these are just the start to a rich variety of flexible gathering and entertaining spaces to support internal events as well as community initiatives, like its Youth and International programs working to broaden the appeal of baseball. A large-scale cafe with grab and go and food hall options sits in a unique corner of the building allowing the seating area open to all to hover 5 floors above sixth avenue—with views of the bustling streets, but also a front row seat to the iconic Radio City Music Hall sign and views extending down to One World Trade and up to Central Park.
When you step into MLB’s headquarters you can understand it’s all about baseball, but never in an obvious way. Your senses lead the way, it’s in the red-stitching on the leather wrapped reception desk, it’s in the diamond motif, it’s in the textures of sport, it’s the red framed offices. STUDIOS worked with MLB to refine the 21st century adaptation of the sport across the headquarters, jumping from simple nostalgia to envisioning the sport’s widening international appeal and the organization’s commitment to attracting youth.