BuzzFeed has some new digs.
Last week, the digital media powerhouse known for its viral listicles and innovative ethos moved its headquarters into 200,000 square feet of office space at 225 Park Avenue in Midtown South. BuzzFeed’s new neighborhood is quickly becoming a hub for New York tech, with companies such as Tumblr, SeatGeek, Union Square Ventures situated in the nearby vicinity.
We caught up with Gabrielle Rubin Deveaux, BuzzFeed’s Senior Director of Corporate Real Estate and Facilities, to chat about her experience merging BuzzFeed’s two formerly separate offices into the new custom space.
Built In: Where is the new space and why did the company choose this location?
Gabrielle Rubin Deveaux: The new office is on 18th Street off of Park Ave South. We chose this location for a few reasons: the proximity to transportation, lots of great eats, the markets in Union Square and cool shops.
BI: Why is BuzzFeed choosing to build out a new office at this time?
GRD: Due to our rapid growth, we outgrew our former office at 200 5th Avenue and quickly had to take another space across the street on 23rd Street. Even though we were a short walk away, it didn't feel right being bifurcated. Having one cohesive office together has everyone excited to reunite again!
BI: We hear there’s a roof deck, production space, craft room and podcast studio in the new office. What other cool features are there?
GRD: We have our own lobby which is a rarity in NYC. We love it because it allows us to embrace our guests from the moment they step off the street into our space. We also have a four story interconnecting staircase which allows us to move through the stack and see each other throughout the day and a roof deck and terrace we're building out as well.
The biggest thing we are already putting to good use is our canteen, which is really the heart of the new office. It's where we eat lunch, share stories over bagels and coffee every Friday, and host Brews, our internal office gathering where we all hang out once a month and have pizza (vegan and gluten free included!), beers (chosen by BuzzFeed's beer club!) and hear from different teams at BuzzFeed on our biggest new projects, new learnings we're sharing and the like. We just had our first one and had each floor make their own fun video and the cool part was that each floor really reflected their culture and teams. We're now opening that space up for visitors like Girls Who Code later this week and our first meetup with Women Who Code on March 7! But we can't wait to start planning hackathons and hosting other meetups there too!
BI: Did employees provide any input when building out the space?
GRD: Yes of course! We programmed with every department as all teams work a little differently and incorporated their asks into the space.
Whereas all floors have the same foundation of desks, chairs, file cabinets, we played with each floor to represent that department. For example, a conference room on the tech floor has a standing height table whereas the sales team has a conference room that is set up as a living room. HR asked for a training room, sales wanted a space to entertain, the news team wanted a news room, etc. We surveyed the staff to see what they wanted to name the conference rooms and what themes they wanted to give the floors. We went with acronyms for all the conference rooms and different colors and themes for all the floors. All the floors also have a variety of collaborative spaces, white board walls and break out areas.
BI: How does the space reflect BuzzFeed’s current status as one of the most innovative media companies in the world?
GRD: We kept it simple. Knowing that our employees like the opportunity to collaborate as well as have their anonymity, we juxtaposed that to make our office include a mix of both open working and cozy, breakout ancillary spaces. We didn't try too hard, we didn't add any of the superfluous items that I see making their way into the new spaces, and we never lost that scrappy mentality. The key is to make it functional and true to your brand and culture.
BI: How is the space conducive to BuzzFeed’s aspirations as a company?
GRD: We want to keep creating amazing content and be as innovative as possible. I don't know much about that, but I do know that if we your employees have the space, the tools and the opportunity to do what they do best, they will create the most amazing things.