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Avalara’s tiki bar themed common area helped it win the 2018 GeekWire Award for Geekiest Office Space. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

You won’t find seas of dull gray cubicles confining workers toiling away at TPS reports inside the offices of the five finalists for the Geekiest Office Space category at this year’s 2019 GeekWire Awards, presented by Wave Business.

One of the most coveted awards that will be given out at our annual awards event May 2 at MoPOP in Seattle, the Geekiest Office Space award contenders include a mix of well-established Seattle companies such as Tableau, Zillow, and Eventcore, newer startups like Textio, and out-of-towers like EA Games who have made their Seattle presence stand out against some formidable competition. While real estate business may be booming across the lake in Bellevue, all of this year’s finalists call Seattle home.

This is just one category among the 11 others that we’re showcasing this month, including Startup of the Year, Next Tech Titan, and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Vote for the Geekiest Office Space award below as well as all the other categories after checking out some really cool offices.

Last year’s winner was Avalara. Past winners include Salesforce, Axon, Synapse, and Tune.

Be sure to vote for Geekiest Office Space — sponsored by JLL — in the poll below. Thanks to JLL for visiting a ton of geeky Seattle offices nominated for this award over the past few months to work with GeekWire to come up with the five finalists. And read on for a description of what JLL thought of our finalists.

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EA Games

The EA Games office includes a tribute to video games of the past. (EA Games Photo)

These video game enthusiasts have created a true gamer’s paradise in the EA Games downtown Seattle office, where employees work side-by-side with the characters they helped to create and moss literally grows on walls (an apt homage to Ken Moss, the chief technology officer). Walking through the EA office space is a whimsical journey. Past projects are proudly displayed throughout the office, illustrated on walls, screen printed on pillows, and even enlarged to full-size.

(EA Games Photo)

The video game company is firmly established in creativity and awesomeness. Decorated with past accomplishments, the space ensures that employees won’t lose sight of the company’s roots. Their hit game “Plants vs. Zombies” pops up throughout their office space in fun and surprising ways. Plants add ambiance while a life-size zombie figurine plays greeter, both serving as a subtle nod to the company’s original success. Display screens flash past popular EA titles, such as FIFA 19, and new games are highlighted to build anticipation for the future release.

The gaming giant wouldn’t be much of a game company without a game room. From billiards and foosball to console games, board games, and even a full-size whack-a-mole style arcade game. Fun is yet another theme you can’t escape. In their large breakroom, they have ample snacks to satisfy the gamer munchies. In addition to the standard coffee and sparkling water, they also have a kombucha kegerator.

Eventcore

Eventcore’s office contains a wall with badges representing all the events the company has worked on. (Eventcore Photo)

Located in the historic Kolstrand Building in trendy Ballard, Eventcore has created a space that masterfully melds vintage Ballard with the area’s hip new economy. At first blush, the space is super cool. It has maintained the original exterior brick wall and brought it inside the building.

The two-floor, open-air space has exposed beams and HVAC system tying into the local industrial neighborhood. The pressed black steel staircase shines against the red brick and brings cohesion to the office while reinforcing the feel of Ballard.

(Eventcore Photo)

These event-tech gurus have also incorporated fun ways to mesh their culture into their office design. Facing a room of open workspaces is a soaring brick alcove, hung with hundreds of badges. Each badge represents a client event that a team member attended. Each and every employee takes their company photo in front of those name badges. A reminder of where the company has been and what it stands for commemorated in every employee’s photo ID.

Eventcore also plays homage to Seattle throughout the space. Each conference room is named after a local grunge band like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. The space is open and creative allowing collaboration to thrive. The team loves their space and it shows.

Tableau

Tableau employees soak up the natural light streaming into its Fremont office. (Heywood Chen Photo)

“Mind-boggling cool.” These were the first words uttered upon leaving Tableau’s headquarters at the Northedge Building. Residing in the center of the universe, also known as Fremont, this dedicated team of information junkies has taken its own data-driven software and used it to create one heck of a geeky office space.

Upon entering the open two-story lobby, you’re immediately greeted by an inverted topographical sculpture of Mount Rainier. This data-driven real-life rendering is enough of a statement by itself, but Tableau took it one step further. They placed the inverted mountain above water resulting in a to-scale reflection of the iconic mountain. From the second floor peering down, it’s like you’re staring at the top of Rainier.

An inverted representation of Mt. Rainier inside Tableau’s offices. (Lara Swimmer Photo)

Tableau has maintained their mantra of simple, elegant, and full of light throughout their U-shaped office space. All employee seating is on the arms of the U, maximizing the natural sunlight and allowing its team to work with a view.

This global company thinks locally with an added concentration on sustainability. For employees biking to work, Northedge has a locker room to hold gear and shower off. On those wonderfully rainy Seattle mornings, dry air is pulled through the lockers all day, drying the wet clothes and preparing you for a comfortable journey home. That’s right: the lockers also dry your clothes.

Tableau’s HQ also contains a central hub with gourmet kitchens allowing employees to prepare their own lunch or compete against one another in competitive cooking competitions. Keeping the local community in mind, they’ve limited seating in the hub to encourage employees to leave the building and visit the local businesses that also call Fremont home. Tableau routinely informs local restaurants and cafes of large conferences that will pull their employees away from Fremont, so they can adapt as necessary and their sales won’t suffer.

Textio

The contrast between white walls and splashes of color was an important part of the design of Textio’s space. (Textio Photo)

Textio’s downtown Seattle office space is crisp, clean, and understated. The augmented writing company prides itself on creating a workspace that’s open and inviting to all; you won’t find gimmicks or ego here.

At Textio, diversity is important. Diversification of words, ideas, and people are all core values to the company. They’ve strived to create an inclusive space by offering gender-neutral bathrooms and even implemented a gender-neutral design.

Much like a blank piece of paper, the office has fresh white walls leaving no hints of masculine or feminine undertones. Only four walls in the entire office space have color. They are bright, fun, and exhilarating, mimicking the colors found on the company’s logo. These splashes of brightness are reminiscent of how words can pop off a page and instill those same feelings into the reader as they do the observer of this office space. Each colorful section is complemented by comfortable seating, creating lounge-like relaxation stations.

(Textio Photo)

Employees are empowered to decide how they want to work. Conference rooms have plush comfortable seating and even their workstations allow for mobility. Textio doesn’t want to constrict their employees, they want to free them. Other cool details about this logophile sanctuary are the oversized lunchroom, conference rooms that are named after emojis, and monthly community events with seminars and speakers.

Welcoming the outside community in and embracing a strong sense of community internally is vital. Their large boardroom opens up to the lunchroom creating an auditorium-like setting that holds 150 people. Here they hold seminars and welcome tech speakers two to three times a month.

Zillow Group

Zillow Group employees collaborate high above downtown Seattle. (Zillow Group Photo)

Zillow Group is located downtown in the Russell Investment Center building, which the company affectionately refers to as Zillow Tower. The real estate technology company has all of the bells and whistles you’d expect in a high-rise building — killer views of Elliott Bay and the Space Needle, a sizeable lunchroom with endless snacks and specialty coffee, comfortable and trendy office furniture. But it’s what they’ve added that makes their space shine.

(Zillow Group Photo)

Zillow’s culture of bringing people together is a consistent theme throughout their office space. Working across multiple floors, it’s hard to create synergy, but Zillow installed an internal staircase connecting all floors and creating a feeling of unity.

Each floor has its own gathering area and kitchen that teams can use to mingle, collaborate, or relax. They also offer a wide range of amenities all with the aim of enriching their employees and making their time at work more enjoyable.

Zillow boasts a meditation room, a quiet room with calming blue lights, a game room, and even a jam room. That’s right, they have a room in their office filled with instruments where they encourage employees to jam it out. Employees can use the instruments to hone their craft or to expel some steam from the workday. The company also has talent shows so everyone can show off their skills.

The team at Zillow stresses the importance of personal and professional growth by offering seminars and continuing education courses. The walls are decorated with inspirational phrases like ‘Think Big’, ‘Own it’, and ‘Act with Integrity’. Zillow has mastered the new age art of balancing corporate with tech and the result is one cool office space.

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