By Ricky Wang - 14th December, 2019
One of our collaborators on the new lululemon building in Vancouver is Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWA). We have thoroughly enjoyed working with this visionary team, so we were happy to join founder Clive Wilkinson in celebrating the release of his new book, [The Theatre of Work](https://store.frameweb.com/the-theatre-of-work.html). Our team was able to catch two stops of his tour, both of which took place in CWA buildings. In New York, he returned to the headquarters of Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG). In Los Angeles, he spoke at the recently-completed KCRW Media Center.
Wilkinson has contributed to multiple iconic buildings over the years, including eye-catching projects for Google and The Barbarian Group. His book discusses some of these projects, reaching back to his days working with Frank Gehry on the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the offices of advertising firm TBWA\Chiat\Day. The latter, constructed in 1998, is now considered to be one of the earliest buildings designed to support Activity-Based Working (ABW). It was far ahead of the curve at the time—so far, in fact, that there were many challenges the team faced in supporting flexible work approaches. Fast forward a couple of decades, and many of the technology problems have now been solved; we are closer than ever to having ABW environments that achieve that project's aspiration.
At PLASTARC, our work is based on the belief that the built environment has a substantial impact on its occupants. We think spaces should be constructed to support occupant behaviors, preferences, and needs, so it pleasure to hear more about Wilkinson’s people-centric approach to design. Explaining the title of his book, Wilkinson says that he calls architecture theatre because "architecture frames the theatre of human experience," further elaborated by quoting Churchill: “We shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us.” Wilkinson’s framing of work as theatre pulls together a kind of old-world architecture heritage with the playful and surreal that are part of performance. It is a great metaphor for his visionary approach.
The LA edition of this event was hosted in the beautiful new home of KCRW, the NPR member station in Santa Monica. The building features multiple spaces intended to welcome musicians and other performers, making it a fitting choice of venue. Not incidentally, KCRW produces a great show about architecture hosted by Frances Anderton. It’s definitely worth a listen!
Wilkinson shared some funny anecdotes from his early days back in the garage, where he started his business. He admitted that on his first big project he hired someone to pretend to be his colleague, hoping to appear more legitimate to the client. In the years since those humble beginnings, the "man in the garage" has built one of the most innovative firms in interior design.