Seated in Salesforce’s San Francisco headquarters, senior director of real estate for the company’s west coast projects, Gordon L’Estrange, admits that his mind feels miles away—2,147 miles, to be exact.
“I can’t stop thinking about Chicago,” L’Estrange admits about Salesforce’s new Windy City headquarters, which is set for completion in 2023. “It’s going to be located in such a prominent spot within the city, just south of the Merchandise Mart. It will be yet another example of how our real estate drives the culture of our company as a whole.”
Indeed, the Chicago office will soon join the world’s leading customer relationship-management platform company as a prime new location alongside existing towers in San Francisco, New York, London, and Indianapolis, with another on the way in Atlanta. Today, Salesforce has over 30,000 employees globally. Not bad for a company that began in a small San Francisco apartment.
Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, L’Estrange recalls how he made a name for himself in architecture through his passion for art. “I just always had an artistic bent, especially when it came to history,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons I loved Dublin so much. The architecture is more varied there due to the older buildings.”
After moving to San Francisco in 1997, L’Estrange entered into the commercial interior world, eventually evolving his career into a hybrid of architecture, construction management, and interior design. Then in 2016, over a cup of coffee, he was offered a life-changing position at Salesforce.
“The opportunity at Salesforce allows my team and me to help share our culture every day,” L’Estrange says, as well as “align our employees around the world and create a memorable environment for everyone who walks through our doors.” He continues on to say that Salesforce views the spaces within each of its buildings as an expression of the company’s culture.
In order to realize this vision, L’Estrange often serves as a translator of sorts, ensuring that everyone involved in the creation of a space is essentially speaking the same language. “We have to be the bridge between the construction team and translate it to the design team, for example. This helps us to not only implement these projects but ensure that they form the culture we are aspiring to,” he says. “My team, in particular, shares this extreme attention to detail that allows us to speak with the same voice.”
One of the most memorable environments within all of Salesforce’s spaces is the Ohana Floor. Meaning ‘family’ in Hawaiian, the space is often referred to as the “world’s greatest living room”, occupied by employees and their families, customers, partners, and non-profit groups that often take advantage of the space located on the top floor of each Salesforce Tower globally.
“The idea of architecture is such a physical idea, but it actually can represent cultural values when done correctly,” says L’Estrange. “Our Ohana Floors are the perfect example of this; they’re inspired by our value of equality and are open to all of our Ohana—employees, customers, partners, and members of the community. The Ohana floor is truly a catch-all space that is always active, including on nights and weekends.”
L’Estrange notes that the global Real Estate and Workplace Services team is also responsible for designing “spaces that are energetic and alive.” This includes clear sightlines, open flow floor plans, plenty of access to sunlight and views, and inspiration from nature. “In our offices, no one needs to be at their desk trying to have a group meeting,” L’Estrange adds. “We create spaces that essentially energize teams to move around and allow us to plan for flexible work spaces.”
“We have enjoyed working with Gordon on many successful projects,” says Michael Paganini, president of Paganini Electric Corporation, who has collaborated with L’Estrange’s team on Salesforce’s design. “The ongoing success at Salesforce Tower has been attributable to his leadership and a phenomenal project team.”
L’Estrange recognizes that no matter how much work goes into creating a space, there must always be room for transformation. “A space is never truly finished,” L’Estrange says. “It will always evolve based on the different ways in which people decide to use it as we continue to grow. We never want to be burdened to have to renovate a floor based on that growth. We always want to have an inherent flexibility when it comes to these work spaces.”
Part of L’Estrange’s day is spent wandering through the spaces he helped build to ensure that they are functioning correctly, from a design standpoint. “I always look at teams conducting meetings in our social lounges rather than traditional conference rooms,” he notes, because this indicates that the space is being utilized the way he and his team strive for. “We want them to have energy,” he adds. “That’s where they, and we, are going to succeed.”
One Workplace, a Salesforce workplace design partner for the last 10 years, congratulates Gordon L’Estrange, Senior Director, Global Real Estate Projects at Salesforce on his outstanding achievements. As project leader for the Salesforce Tower, Gordon orchestrated that iconic and successful effort with his internal team and all project partners. One Workplace works with organizations like Salesforce to design and implement inspired workplace solutions. We create spaces that teach, heal, inspire, and perform. Visit oneworkplace.com to learn more about why organizations like Salesforce, UC Berkeley, Ancestry.com, Symantec, and UCSF choose One Workplace to help create a great workplace for their teams.