The new Starr Atrium design is flexible and addresses a variety of Edwards Lifesciences’ meeting and gathering-space needs. | All images property of Costea Photography Inc.;;

The Inspiration Behind Starr Atrium’s Renovation

Carrie Rossenfeld Office

As SoCal Real Estate recently reported, Tangram Interiors has been honored as part of the project team commissioned for the renovation of the Starr Atrium at the 32.5-acre headquarters campus of Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine, California. The project received a SPIRE Award from Commercial Real Estate Women-Orange County (CREW-OC).

Also recognized in the top win for “Superior Performance in Building Renovations” in reference to the project were LPA, DPR Construction, and Edwards Lifesciences. Other partners include Acentech and AVI-SPL.

Previously used as a corporate café, executive offices, and employee workstations, the new 25,000-square-foot, high-volume space now provides an environment of gathering areas for collaboration and serves as a secure gateway to the campus, linking two buildings at the main lobby. It is also used as a venue for hosting events, such as product launches, community outreach programs, and company meetings for several thousand people in a space with ample natural daylight.

Tangram outfitted the space with contemporary furniture from Coalesse, Dellarobbia and Davis Furniture that reflects its subtle gray and white ambience. The flexible settings are cleanly arranged to facilitate individual tasks and encourage team collaborations in an inviting atmosphere that also features corporate heritage displays and a full-service coffee bar. Tangram also provided red, soft seating cushions from Custom Upholstery Elements that lend bright color to the large, natural-wood staircase.

SoCal Real Estate caught up with Rick D’Amato, principal/design director for LPA Inc., to discuss what makes the project unique and how the design was inspired.

SoCal Real Estate: What makes the Starr Atrium unique?
The Edwards Starr Atrium was envisioned as the exclamation point on a complex and complicated campus rejuvenation and construction project. The Atrium represents the heart and soul of a 3,000-person facility that values collaboration, socialization, and progressive thinking. The Atrium is a front door that connects the campus not only to the outside world, but also to each other.

How is the new design representative of life-science users’ needs in this market?
As a leading medical-device manufacturer, Edwards Lifesciences now has a campus that is provided with a sense of center for its many diverse entities. Tempering the technical nature of the company as well as the nature of the atrium function, the design integrates fluid yet diffused natural light, natural materials, and overt connections both physical and visual to the exterior environment. It is these natural elements that provide a grounded nature to the massive interior space.

Utilized for quarterly all-hands staff meetings, the space also addresses the more intimate nature associated with daily use. This is accomplished though the implementation of a wood clad stadium stair which can be transformed into auditorium-style seating with integrated lighting and audio-visual systems when needed but can also be augmented through furnishings and materials to encourage smaller groups on a daily basis to socialize and collaborate. In addition, as the front door to the campus, the atrium also provides museum and heritage displays and features linking the company to its vibrant past, former staff and founders. As an organization that is responsible for the saving of lives, it was also imperative that the atrium achieve LEED-Platinum certification.

What was the inspiration for the design?
The design philosophy of the atrium was effectively to create a sense of center to the sprawling 10-acre campus. and provide the varied entities of the organization with an opportunity to collaborate and socialize together in multiple ways. The space is designed as a bridge between two existing office structures and connects the front door of the company directly to the heart of the campus. The solution integrates elements that are flexible and fluid, providing staff and visitors with a changing and adaptable environment. The stadium is the focal point of the space and has the ability to accommodate 1,000 people comfortably for quarterly staff meetings or smaller groups for quick meetings or a cup of coffee on a daily basis. The stadium also works as a connecting devise from the second level offices to the campus center. The indoor-outdoor connection is accomplished through a massive vertical bi-fold door that allows the large crowds to filter easily into the space for an event. Individual digital pilons permit smaller groups to collaborate and digitally connect utilizing varied furniture arrangements and configurations. A floating bridge connecting the second-level office space to the stadium and atrium provides yet another type of meeting and collaborative area.

The space is structured though the use of a unique truss-net system, minimizing columns and narrowing the structural depth of the ceiling. A continuous linear skylight emphasizes the circulation system and provides filtered natural daylight, which changes the mood and quality of the space throughout the day.