We have often heard “Work is worship” but in this case the phrase has been taken to a new level. Audible’s main headquarters at 1 Washington Street, the Innovation Cathedral, was once the house of worship formerly known as the Second Presbyterian Church. In 2016, Spector Group partnered with Audible to restore this historic, land-marked piece of Newark’s history and re-imagined the space for over 500 of its finest technologists. Audible’s Innovation Cathedral is a juxtaposition of old and new, an 80,000 square foot high-tech office space in Newark, New Jersey.
Originally opened in 1933 for a congregation that had been active since 1811. However, it’s been vacant since 1995.
The three-building conversion to office involved introducing an entirely new endoskeleton of structure within the confines of the landmarked cathedral and Hunter Hall. Thus the new series of platforms to be used for office space and alike do not touch the exterior walls. Instead, the architect used a series of freestanding, elevated platforms to build out space and create new vantage points via newly constructed catwalks and perches around the Sanctuary with glass dividers, so you’re able to view down from the top library floor to the lower main level. As such, the conversion preserved many of the features of the original church and adjoining buildings.
The auditorium, now named “The Auditory,” and the amenity level bowling alley, now named Audi-Bowl in the community center, were restored, as well as the pipe organ and organ screen in the main sanctuary space.
All of the original cathedral’s panelling, pews, and groin vaults were restored. The stained-glass windows were minimally modified to remove overtly religious references and create a more inclusive workspace. Game areas, lounges, an exhibition area, production rooms, and a commissary floor were added beneath the Sanctuary’s main floor. Flexibility and deference to the cathedral were the driving motivators for the design. Technologists within different teams were only assigned to specific floors. However, there are no set desks, and workers can sit wherever they’d like on their floor.
The project is the winner of American Architecture Awards 2020 under Restoration/Renovation category.