Life After Time-Life Building Starts for Luce Publishing Empireby
Downtown move to help Time's magazines compete in digital age
Staff members to work side by side in offices without walls
Time Inc. employees start working at their new headquarters in lower Manhattan on Monday. The shift is cultural as well as geographic for the magazine company, associated with its namesake Midtown building since 1959, and once the most powerful brand in publishing.
By mid-December, if all goes according to plan, everyone will have left the Time & Life building to relocate to 225 Liberty St., the 44-story tower that’s part of the Brookfield Place complex near the mouth of the Hudson River. The move-in starts on the ninth floor, which will be home to InStyle, Essence, StyleWatch, Real Simple, MIMI, Health and People en Espanol. No walls will separate the company’s brands, an arrangement executives say will enable staffs to collaborate and devise strategies to grow beyond the print pages and engage readers on their mobile devices.
The new, technologically advanced offices also are intended to help Time Inc. take its legacy titles such as Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated further into the digital age as the company strives to remain relevant among a tidal wave of online competitors and an industrywide slump in print advertising. Monday’s opening starts a long goodbye to the Time & Life Building across from Rockefeller Center in Midtown, commissioned by the publishing empire’s co-founder Henry Luce, and a model for the TV show “Mad Men” as a depiction of 1960s office culture.
“It’s time for a change,” said Donna Clark, Time Inc.’s senior vice president for real estate, who helped negotiate the lease with landlord Brookfield Property Partners LP and is overseeing the move. “As you know, Time Inc. has been going through a significant transition. Real estate can speak to that, but it can also foster it too.”
Time Inc. had a 6 percent drop in revenue in the second quarter, and analysts are projecting another decline when third-quarter earnings are reported on Nov. 5. Parent Time Warner Inc. spun off the magazine division last year.
Eventually, 2,900 employees will be working in the 700,000 square feet (65,000 square meters) that Time Inc. is leasing across eight stories in the tower.
Befitting an established company looking for an update, the interior design has such elements as wide common areas on each floor, called “boulevards,” that are intended to bring disparate employees together. Open spaces with 12.5-foot (3.8-meter) ceilings replace walls and cubicles. Lounge areas are interspersed with desks. Staff from different magazines will work side by side instead of being separated like they are in Midtown.
In a nod to the publisher’s heritage, floor-to-ceiling enlargements of photos from the archives of Life Magazine line one of the boulevards. Marilyn Monroe posing in a turtleneck and white pants and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s ubiquitous sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day are among them.
On the seventh floor, flagship titles such as Time, Fortune and Money will have distinct sections, but no walls between them. Time’s space will feature a “media wall” of TV screens, and ceiling soffits lined with screens overhead.
The fifth floor will have a double-height video studio that “will greatly extend our video capabilities,” spokeswoman Erin Clinton said. Studios in the current building were created out of rooms designed for other purposes.
“In the days of ‘Mad Men,’ they weren’t making videos,” Clinton said.
And while they are leaving behind the house that Luce built, employees will arrive to a new 350-seat Henry R. Luce Auditorium on the sixth floor, which will host lectures, films, concerts and other programs. Top executives will have offices on the same floor.
Joshua Rider, associate principal of Studios Architecture, managed the design of Time Inc.’s space, which was carved out of offices once occupied by the accounting firm Deloitte LLP and securities brokerage Nomura Holdings Inc. Time Inc. joins such media companies as magazine publisher Conde Nast in moving downtown.
At the Time & Life Building in Midtown, there are “large, broad cubicles, high walls, lots of offices,” Rider said. “There’s been a concerted effort here to say, ‘Let’s bring more people out into the open.’ There’s actually a ratio of 94 percent open offices and 6 percent closed offices. We basically turned that ratio upside down.”