MKDA Designs 45,000-SF Human- Centered Headquarters For Friedman LLP

MKDA, a national design firm offering full-service architecture and interior design among its three studios in New York, Miami and Stamford, has designed a new headquarters on the 21st Floor at One Liberty Plaza for high-profile accounting and advisory services firm Friedman LLP.  

MKDA designed the transformative 45,000-square-foot environment for Friedman in response to its relocation from three floors of traditional corporate space at 1700 Broadway. In complete contrast, the new human-centered workplace offers efficiencies, experiences and innovations that enhance employee well-being, brand expression and corporate culture. 

“We design from the back-of-house to the front to ensure thoughtful, high-performance spaces with intended outcomes,” said MKDA President Michael Kleinberg. “Friedman’s post-occupancy review shows a successful workplace strategy with substantial improvements to the firm’s productivity, workplace engagement, employee well-being and company culture.” 

“Being mindful of the functional requirements, we brought emotional intelligence and a human-centered design approach to our partnership with Friedman,” added MKDA Creative Director Edin Rudic. “We went deep to explore and discover the firm’s molecular structure and then articulated the firm’s story with a finely-tailored design for a better workplace and happier people.”

Putting the personal and professional well-being of its 275 New York employees at the forefront during the design process was paramount to Friedman, a leader in the accounting industry since 1924. The strong vision the firm held for its new space included employee-centric features more in line with tech companies than accounting firms: open areas, bright colors, breakout rooms and state-of-the-art technologies.

MKDA delivered a balanced program for the forward-thinking accounting firm, with 75 glass-front perimeter and interior offices for partners and senior accountants, benching and various experiential collaborative spaces that blur the line between home and work. The environment’s backbone is a “living” corridor of collaborative spaces that runs through the center core and includes a kitchen, library, den, workroom, living room and community hub with a 1,800-square-foot cafe. 

The cafe was fitted with hospitality-level high top tables and bistro banquettes; the community hub with bleachers and an oversized monitor for events. The post modern industrial chic decor features bold colors and an eclectic blend of details, including mosaic ceramic tiles, custom ivy light fixtures, vivid wall graphics and geometric-patterned flooring. 

“We activated the corridor, cafe and community hub in response to the human desire for engagement and emotional connectivity to one’s corporate culture, which today is the strongest brand-defining element,” said Rudic. “The tone is warm, welcoming and professional, but also fun and energizing. The hospitality-level amenities and unexpected details have had a positive impact on employees’ mindset overall.” 

To create a neutral backdrop throughout the work environment, MKDA retained unfinished industrial elements such as concrete floors, exposed ceilings, concrete block walls and exposed ductwork. Color was added through furniture, flooring, wall coverings and other details. In reception, for example, a sculptured teal reception desk, electric red chairs and a bright blue signage pop against the background. 

“We interviewed several firms and saw clearly that MKDA would be able to understand and execute our vision,” said Friedman LLP Co-Managing Partners Harriet Greenberg and Frederick R. Berk in a joint statement. “We knew the firm would educate us through the process and provide a functional space that would meet our specifications and design requirements rather than its own. The results speak for themselves.”