Able to work anywhere, and in precarious times, often forced to, we have a tortured relationship
with the office today. Realizing anew the benefits of collaborating and just being in physical,
shared spaces, we are simultaneously questioning whether offices – with the demanding,
alienating rhythms they impose on us, the expenses they bring to business, and their hefty
material and carbon impacts – are needed at all.

In times of uncertainty and drastic change, the typical response of architects, in league with
corporations and consultants, has been to demolish or strip out office buildings and start again.
Attempting to plot a more sane path forwards, this book looks back. How have the revolutionary
office buildings of the 20th century evolved in the 21st century? What architecture and materials,
and which ideologies of work and corporate inhabitation have endured, and why? And which
regimes of change have worked, and which haven’t?

This book is the first longitudinal study of dozens of icons of Modernism and modernity. Using
before-after photography, documents from corporate and public archives, and extensive
interviews, Back to the Office engages CEOs, staff, architects, maintenance and cleaning crews,
real estate brokers, and financiers to see what we can learn about (extending) the lifecycles of
the office.

50 (once) iconic and revolutionary office buildings and what has become of them. 520 pages exploring the sustainability of office design by probing their actual lifespans. Before-after photography, archival research, and interviews with owners, managers, and workers show how longevity is possible.
Book design by Marieke van den Heuvel.
Edited by James Westcott.
With contributions by Ashley Schafer, Keigo Kobayashi Lab, haun Fynn, Marieke van den Heuvel, Rem Koolhaas/AMO/Nicholas Potts, Manfredo di Robilant, Kenneth Ross, Solmaz Sadeghi Khasraghi, Ali Tavakoli Dinani.
Principle photography by Jens Frederiksen and Ossip van Duivenbode. Further photography by Iwan Baan, Cameron Campbell, Mario Carieri, Pietro Carieri, Shaun Fynn, Jules Gorce, HGEsch, Andrea Jemolo, Parasto Nowruzi, Milad Panahifar, Richard Pare, Juhani Niiranen, Sandra Schubert, Emanuele Scorcelletti, Phillip Sinden, Patrick Tourneboeuf.

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