Inside LinkedIn’s Playful New Digs

Inspired by social clubs, the Empire State Building office includes a ‘20s speakeasy lounge and a conference room named Meg Ryan.

LinkedIn’s New York offices are located on the 22nd to 28th floors of the Empire State Building, with jaw-dropping views of Manhattan’s concrete jungle. When LinkedIn tapped IA Interior Architects to design a 33,005-square-foot expansion of its workspace onto the 28th floor, the professional networking site wanted to draw inspiration from the surrounding city without resorting to cheesy New York cliches (checkered yellow taxi cabs, subway signs). The resulting interiors, unveiled exclusively here, mimic the aesthetic of New York’s old-school social and business clubs, complete with a speakeasy lounge hidden behind a wall of vintage rotary phones, and a wall decorated with ‘20s-style bowler hats.


The social-business club concept is a nod to LinkedIn’s mission as a professional networking site. The design is also meant to be a departure from the industry’s tech-bro playground approach to real estate (looking at you, Google). “It’s moving away from that slide-firepole-manhole cover-filled office design into a more mature and sophisticated approach,” John Capobianco, design director for the project, says in a phone interview. “Tech companies are becoming more conscientious about how they’re spending money and what type of real amenities they’re offering employees.”

Still, in the tech world, workspaces are thought of as an important way to attract and lure talent, so even though there are no slides, LinkedIn still went all out with their new design. Amenities include a café, a screening room (complete with video game consoles), a fitness room, a billiards lounge, and a catering service.

“Everyone in the office is always on the phone, pacing around on their headsets,” designer Lauren Foley says. That inspired the theme of the speakeasy lounge, which you enter through a vestibule with 133 vintage rotary phones on the walls and a concealed door. One of the phones unlatches the door when you pick it up and hang it up. “We were kind of poking fun at them–have they ever even seen a rotary phone?”

New York City references abound (in case you forget where you are?). On one wall, “LinkedIn” is spelled out in photographs of found letterforms in New York City architecture (an L made from the shape of a fire escape, for example). Offices are wallpapered with pixelated, blown-up Google Street View shots of New York City streets, saturated in various colors. There’s a “Pet Wall,” covered in framed black-and-white portraits of employees’ pets. Conference rooms are named after movie stars from famous films shot in the Empire State Building (Meg Ryan, from Sleepless in Seattle; King Kong). Which means “Let’s meet in Meg Ryan” is a sentence LinkedIn employees will now be expected to say with a straight face.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.