Chance meetings at the RAND

(Via Dr.Fish) Archrecord has an interesting article about the design of RAND Corporation Headquarters (the nonprofit policy research institution in Santa Monica, California). It describes these curious figure-8-shaped headquarters:

DMJM Design took a page from RAND’s own playbook. It organized the building within a figure-8-shaped floor plan: the figure 8, according to RAND’s mathematicians, increases the probability that researchers from different departments will have chance encounters with each other in the hallway. This shape, moreover, corresponds to RAND’s nonhierarchical, egalitarian organization—and, to boot, its internal circulation pattern lacks dead ends.

RAND's website also describes more thoroughly these issues:

While the headquarters is modern in design, its central design theme is based on ideas first expressed in 1950 by a RAND mathematician, John Williams. He proposed a design that would facilitate more interaction between staff by increasing the odds of "chance meetings." Today, that theme is carried through with elements such as a system of interconnected bridges and stairwells that are unusually wide to encourage impromptu discussions among employees.

Why do I blog this? this is an interesting (and classic) example of how architecture can structure certain behavior.