6/1/2018News

In WeWork’s Newest European Locations, 19th-century Grandeur Meets 21st-century Bravura

by Mark Sullivan

The two buildings couldn’t be more different. In Paris, WeWork 92 Champs-Élysées is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece, with wrought-iron railings, a slate-blue mansard roof, and a towering stone turret that points up the avenue toward the Arc de Triomphe. It revels in original architectural details, like curving balustrades and elegant bay windows.

WeWork Glòries, on the other hand, is in an eight-story-tall glass cube shimmering with columns of gold. Set in 22@Barcelona, a former industrial neighborhood that has been reimagined as a technology and innovation hub, it reflects everything that is modern and forward thinking in Barcelona.

One is 19th-century grandeur, the other is 21st-century bravura. Yet the designers had surprisingly similar inspirations when they decided how to transform them into WeWork spaces. They are among the 11 new buildings being added to WeWork’s portfolio this month.

WeWork Glories BarcelonaBarcelona's WeWork Glòries takes advantage of wide-open views.

Besides Barcelona (a new city for WeWork) and Paris, WeWork is opening locations in Atlanta, Beijing, Berlin, Melbourne, New York, Portland, and Seoul, as well as two in Shanghai.

Perhaps the most anticipated is WeWork 92 Champs-Élysées, which has attracted the attention of design fans because it’s a location with such a storied past. A plaque of the exterior says that Thomas Jefferson once lived on this spot.

“Everything already existing in the building was so historical — the moldings, the fireplaces — that we let it speak for itself,” says Nathaneal Bengio, the interior designer who oversaw the transformation of WeWork 92 Champs-Élysées.

Bengio says that the five-story landmark’s character was so distinctive that his team decided to emphasize it by using a creamy white on the outer walls. They created elegant common areas with a nod to tradition — there’s a library, dining room, and even a “tea parlour.”

“We wanted a narrative for the building, so we created these rooms and spaces throughout,” says Bengio.

WeWork interior designer Miguel Cardona says that the core idea driving the design of WeWork Glòries is the Mediterranean way of living: simple, minimal, lighthearted, and cozy.

“Being a glass tower with very strong design moments — such as the vertical gold stripes running across all windows — it was agreed that the interior finishes would be minimal as to avoid a competition of strong design moves,” says Cardona.

To accomplish this, his team used lots of natural woods and other materials that would add warmth. They also relied on elegant tilework, a quintessential element in local architecture seen in iconic buildings designed by architect Antoni Gaudí.

Cardona says the blue-and-carmine color palette seen in the wallpaper will be instantly recognizable to soccer fans, since it echoes the colors of FC Barcelona, “arguably one of the most transcendental and cherished institutions of the city.”

A rooftop terrace opens onto views of the 38-story Agbar Tower, a bullet-shaped skyscraper that is the unofficial gateway to the neighborhood. The opposite side faces the Mediterranean Sea, so the surroundings are an important part of the design as well.