"Knowledge Spaces of Financial Markets:
The Architecture of Trading Rooms"
The trading room represents a new building type in the age of electronic markets. For many centuries, trading activities took only place at centralized trading floors inside the exchange building where traders assembled physically on the trading floor and traded face-to-face with each other. Orders were shouted and hand signalled across the trading floor creating an acoustic, visual and haptic buzz of the overall market situation. In this vibrant environment, traders searched for trading opportunities, continuously exchanging and processing market information. The ‘knowledge space’ which was created in this process had economic, social - and furthermore, spatial dimensions; trading decisions did not only follow rational calculations and social networks but also depended on spatial conditions. The nature of the interaction on the trading floor required a unique organization and architecture which aimed for fastest and most effective communication possible. Over the course of the 20th century, however, trading activities gradually moved away from centralized trading floors to remote trading rooms. Political and technological changes in the financial market led to an exodus from the trading floors, as firms were able to set up their trading operations at locations outside the exchange building.
This dissertation seeks to explore the specifics of this architecture and discusses design approaches for future trading rooms. The key objective of this study is to unveil the spatial design and organization of trading rooms in relation to their work and communication processes, focusing on trading rooms in Germany, the US and Britain. The thesis proposes an interdisciplinary approach analyzing trading rooms in the context of spatial configuration and knowledge communication. It is divided into five parts. Chapter 1 provides a theoretical framework for the analysis of workplace design. It argues that architecture must be described in relation to dynamic organizational structures and discusses the trading room as place for innovation production. Based on the concept of knowledge spaces, it defines four key dimensions for exploring the architecture of trading room. Chapter 2 gives a brief historical overview about the architecture of traditional exchanges, focusing on the knowledge communication process on the trading floor. Using the spatial design and organization of trading pits and trading posts as example, the chapter highlights the interdependence of architecture, communication and technology. Chapter 3 forms the main part of the dissertation analyzing the architecture of trading rooms. The empirical study consists of case studies, using trading rooms of investment banks, proprietary trading firms and alternative investment firms as example. These institutions are the major professional players of the financial trading industry and represent fundamentally different business models and organizational processes. The chapter discusses the spatial design and organization of these trading rooms in relation to their business objectives and communication structures. For these different kinds of trading firms, a knowledge space typology is developed. Chapter 4 is a discourse about best practices for design approaches of trading rooms. It discusses four design aspects which are considered important for the planning process including a technical view, an analysis of work processes, a socio-organizational perspective and some thoughts on future trends. The concluding chapter reflects on location factors, implications for practice and further research.
Empirical data for this study was collected between August 2005 and October 2006, and consists of interviews with traders and business managers, site visits of trading rooms, visual documentation and a survey including questions on spatial requirements, location factors and business focus.
The online survey necessary for this project is supported by www.qualtrics.com.
Lebenslauf / Curriculum Vitae
2005 - present
DFG - Fellow, Transatlantic Graduate Research Program Berlin - New York Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin
2004 - present
Doctoral Student, School of Architecture, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden
Visiting Scholar, Center for Organizational Innovation, Columbia University, New York
Diploma in Architecture, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden
1998 - 1999
Visiting Student, School of Architecture, University of Westminster, London
1996 - 2001
Scholarship Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes
2001 - 2004
Cordogan & Clark Architects, Chicago
Student Assistant, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden
1999 - 2000
Internship, Penoyre & Prasad Architects, London
1998 - 2000
Student Assistant, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), London
Internship, Urbach Building Contractors, Hamburg