A building’s environmental design is intrinsic to the livelihood of a business.

Whether it’s an open-floor plan, cubicles, an executive or private suite, the most critical facet of an office’s design is its ability to evoke creativity, and a truly successful working space encourages and inspires collaborative brainstorming.

MIT’s Building 20 was probably one of the most famous interactive offices. Built in 1943 during World War II to house a radiation lab, the long, factory-esque wooden building eventually became known as “the magical incubator”. Building 20 was the former of home to the university’s nuclear science and acoustics labs, the linguistic and philosophy departments, the integrated studies program, the ROTC and dozens upon dozens of other programs. Its infrastructure violated fire code and was intended to be demolished after the war, yet instead became known as one academia’s most celebrated facilities.

There was nothing aesthetically attractive about Building 20. It had a leaky roof and there was no HVAC system or heat. The hallways were narrow and dark. Yet, it’s horizontal design nurtured creative conversations amongst its workers. Conventional office architecture features a vertical layout whereas Building 20’s was horizontal. Typically, a chance encounter with a colleague in an elevator lasts as brief as the elevator ride. However, Building 20’s long corridors were ideal environments for extensive, impromptu scientific discussions.

Linguist Noam Chomsky, who worked in Building 20 for decades, called it “a fantastic environment. It looked like it was going to fall apart. But it was extremely interactive. There was a mixture of people who later became separate departments interacting informally all the time. You would walk down the corridor and meet people and have a discussion.”

Building 20 is a testament to the power of basic human communication over social technology. The offices fostered a long list of scientific discoveries, from the physics of microwaves, the first video games, hi-fi technology, and high-speed photography.

In 1998 Building 20 was demolished and Prtizker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry began designs for The Stata Center. What stands today could not be more different than Building 20. The Stata Center is a cartoonish structure, a goofy, futuristic design with awkwardly protruding walls and mish-mashing colors. However, according to architecture critic, Robert Campbell, “the building is alive. You can feel part of a community that is working hard… There’s connectivity. There are even windows in the fire stairs.

Is your office building lacking inspiration? Check our Turnkey’s listings for innovative work environments.

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