Why This Company Is Aiming to Have the ‘World’s Best Living Room’ in Its Office Tower

5,000 live plants will grow in Salesforce Tower New York's Ohana floor

Salesforce takes up 20 percent of its eponymous tower in New York. Getty Images
Headshot of Chris Ariens

Would you work more productively if you knew there 5,000 living plants surrounding you…on the 41st floor…of a Manhattan high-rise?

That’s what Salesforce is hoping as it prepares to open its street-side welcome center, its top floor Ohana “family room” and two more floors of its Salesforce Tower in the Bryant Park neighborhood of New York City.

“We think of it as the world’s best living room,” said Elizabeth Pinkham, evp of global real estate for the San Francisco-based cloud computing and an 18-year Salesforce veteran who ran the company’s successful events business, including its Dreamforce programs, for 15 years, as she gave Adweek a first look at the under-construction tower’s apex. Ohana, which means family in Hawaiian, is a term often used by CEO Marc Benioff to describe the global Salesforce team and its clients.

“The New York office started 15 years ago with eight people,” said Pinkham, who says putting everyone under one roof “is about creating one Salesforce.” The company takes up about 20 percent of the building.

In early May, Salesforce will open its Trailhead, the Sixth Avenue entrance that takes guests through the Salesforce client success experience. Trailhead mascots Codey and Appy greet guests in a setting evocative of a national park, its walls lined with live plants. New York is Salesforce’s biggest market. The company needed to go big here, and the selection of 1095 Avenue of the Americas, adjacent to Bryant Park, fits into one of the company’s real estate pledges. “One of the covenants is to be close to nature,” said Pinkham.

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The 1,200 Salesforce employees now work in the tower on floors 17 and 18 in open-shared seating, in rows of sit-stand desks, atop gray, brown and green carpet squares that are made of recycled fishing nets and meant to mimic a hiking trail. The company is building out floors 19 and 20 for occupancy next month. On the 23rd floor, there will be an innovation center with auditorium seating. Every floor has a quiet room for recharging.

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For the Ohana floor, Pinkham consulted with Burberry for the design aesthetic, then hired The Wiseman Group, which specializes in high-end homes, for the interior design. During our tour, paper cutouts on the floor marked where the communal tables, curvy couches, barista bar and baby grand piano will sit, all of which will have panoramic views of Manhattan and beyond. At every support column lining the perimeter, live plants will bring the outside in. The mock-up we saw was at least the fifth version of what will eventually grow there.

And all Salesforce employees are welcome. “It’s a way to democratize the sunshine,” said Pinkham. Salesforce’s non-profit partners will be able to use the space on nights and weekends for their events.

Unlike other dynamic digital companies built in the late 20th century, Salesforce does not have a cafeteria that can cajole staffers to not stray too far from their desks. “We encourage our employees to go out for lunch and support local businesses,” said Pinkham. Still, snacks abound.

Completed in 1974, the building has been home to New York Telephone, Bell Atlantic and, most recently, MetLife. Because MetLife had its name emblazoned at the top, Salesforce signage was grandfathered in.

Salesforce Tower New York joins towers in San Francisco, London and Indianapolis. “And if I had to guess, I’m sure there will be more coming,” said Pinkham. “This is an expression of who we are.”

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@ChrisAriens chris.ariens@adweek.com Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.
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