The former Time & Life building on New York City’s Avenue of the Americas now hosts the headquarters of Major League Baseball, revamped by Studios Architecture to reference the sport at every opportunity. Occupying 315,000 square feet across five floors, the building brings departments as diverse as talent management and video game design together under one roof, arranged with intertwined public spaces to encourage lots of co-worker mingling and collaboration. The design is a result of Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred’s “One Baseball” mantra, unifying the league’s divergent business arms under a single umbrella and appealing to a new generation of fans.
Sitting among a group of midcentury buildings in Midtown with views of Central Park and One World Trade Center, the new headquarters hosts 1,250 employees from the office of the commissioner and MLB Advanced Media. Studios Architecture’s managing principal architect Joshua Rider and associate Jordan Evans were tasked with adapting the building’s deep floor plates into a hierarchal, layered program that places functions that don’t require natural light, like tech rooms, multimedia screening rooms, and broadcast studios, in the center of the building. That leaves the beautifully day-lit perimeter for spaces that bring the community together.
A triple-height, stadium-like central volume called the Concourse invites employees from all the various departments to a coffee bar, with staircases leading up and down and a full-height, faceted white feature wall upon which live MLB updates, statistics, and game content can be projected. This space is full of triangular patterns abstracted from the shape of a baseball diamond. From this social hub, employees and visitors filter into open offices and flexible meeting areas, each equipped with five different types of mix-and-match workstation models to fit the needs of each department.
“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,” the architects say. “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 café 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 five 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.”
All those oversized baseball graphics might not be subtle, but the architects incorporated baseball themes throughout the building in other, less obvious ways. Red stitching mimicking that on a baseball accents a leather-wrapped reception desk the color of a baseball glove, and seven types of ash wood on the walls and ceilings nod to the baseball bat. Plus, the more you look, the more you’ll find iterations of the diamond shape.
“The end result is a perfect embodiment of our philosophy of One Baseball,” says Pat Courtney, Chief Communications Officer of Major League Baseball. “This sport is meant for everyone, and we want each person who comes to our offices to feel a part of the game.”