Diverse expertise under one roof
Building culture for a firm that does it all
28,000 square feet
1201 New York Avenue NW Washington, DC
What do you get when you merge a traditional Washington, DC lobbying firm with a forward-thinking advertising and marketing firm? The “creative advocacy” firm known as Subject Matter, born out of a desire to offer clients a full-service menu of government relations and strategic communications services. Why merge? Leadership of the legacy companies witnessed the changing dynamics of Washington-based advocacy and saw an opportunity to offer something no other firm was offering. On paper, this merger looked like a significant culture clash, but the result has been extraordinary. One component driving that success? The company’s office. Subject Matter’s office at 1201 New York Avenue, NW demonstrates that the right location, design, functionality and branding can create a situation where one plus one equals three.
Bringing the now 80-person team under one roof as quickly as possible was the number one priority post-merger. However, finding an ideal space was challenging because Subject Matter was looking for a little bit of everything. This new company needed an office to accommodate an incredibly diverse set of talents, skills, ages and workstyles. Subject Matter’s workforce included traditional Washington-based lobbyists, digital strategists, communications experts and more, all of whom had different workspace needs. When Subject Matter engaged the JLL team, led by Managing Director Creighton Armstrong, they were confident they were working with a partner who not only could help them understand the office market, but also help them understand how the right office could help this new firm make an immediate impact. The JLL team took the time to understand how Subject Matter’s unique combination of talent worked and what they needed to excel. Armed with this knowledge, the JLL team searched for a space that would address all of those workplace needs for Subject Matter. Ultimately, JLL helped Subject Matter find an office they could call home at 1201 New York Avenue, NW, right in the heart of downtown Washington, DC.
At the time of lease negotiations, 1201 New York was undergoing significant renovations and updates that would turn it into one of the city’s most prominent Trophy assets. Although renovations would not be fully complete before Subject Matter moved in, the JLL team was instrumental in helping Subject Matter envision their future office. Creighton engaged Mark Montgomery and Robin Sparrow of JLL’s Project and Development Services team to manage the build-out of the 28,000-square-foot space. The requirements were extensive, but JLL worked closely with Fox Architects to address every challenge and meet every deadline. Despite the surrounding building renovations, as soon as the Subject Matter team moved in, they hit the ground running.
By blending elements of a creative agency with a traditional lobbying firm, Subject Matter’s office speaks to their capabilities, professionalism and personality. It’s an environment that the team describes as “ad agency cool with a DC polish.” Depending on their role, each member of the team has a workspace suited to them and their workstyle. Lobbyists sit in private perimeter and interior offices, while media and digital strategists sit in open, shared spaces. The success of Subject Matter relies on the power of these teams working together, and an abundance of shared space options facilitates such teamwork. A mix of large conference spaces, comfortable lounges and small team rooms complement the individual workstations and provide Subject Matter’s experts the opportunity to produce impactful work for their clients. The office also features an on-site studio which is frequently used to conduct televised interviews with clients, policy leaders, media spokespeople and more.
The new office has had a profound impact on the young company’s culture by creating a strong sense of cohesion and togetherness. This merger of two distinct firms has been so successful because the office provides an environment that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration. On any given day, Subject Matter hosts members of congress, CEOs, campaign workers and young Hill staffers, and the office allows them to put the full spectrum of their expertise on display. It has also helped strengthen the relationship with current and potential clients because they can experience first-hand what is possible when the teams come together. The quality and scope of Subject Matter’s work really stands alone, but it’s the office that truly brings it all together.