The Leader Magazine

DEC 2017

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multi-functional space that allows for abundant natural light and views of the outdoors from virtually any spot within the building, and a great place for impromptu meetings, quiet individual work and social events. CallisonRTKL pursued a unique vision for this "doughnut-shaped" building, despite the fact that a building with this configuration is typically more expensive than a traditional design given its expansive envelope. The American Greetings team, however, immediately saw the value of a private outdoor space that expands its work environment while offering employees the benefits of fresh air and green space. The central courtyard, which the company now considers the heart of the facility, acts as the physical and symbolic core of the building. It's a gathering place, an extension of the office, and a source of natural light that is livable, even during the winter. Located on the third floor of the building and accessible from "main street" amenities such as retail space, a café and Starbucks, the courtyard encourages a community spirit by inviting those who work on the floors above and below to mingle, intermix and spend time outside. Keeping creative talent By offering a workplace specially designed for creative talents, the new Creative Studios is expected to directly contribute to attracting the most creative people in the market. CallisonRTKL's team worked with American Greetings' professional creative staff to design an accessible, bright, and light-filled work environment that fosters interaction and interactivity while providing spaces for a variety of job types and work preferences, including preferences for working outdoors in the courtyard. The building was truly designed from the inside out to cater to the company's innovative culture, unique requirements and diverse employee needs. To create a space that would reflect the very nature of the company, the design team set out to imagine an environment for creatives, by creatives. It relied on a truly integrative and collaborative process. Throughout all phases of design and implementation, the client was an integral part of the team, contributing ideas through work sessions and design charrettes, employee interviews and town halls. American Greetings associates even designed the wall murals throughout the building. The result is a showcase for the company's creative spirit and product innovations. Not only is the headquarters a new home for American Greetings, it also anchors the live/ work/play community mission of Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio. Designed to respond to its context, the building embraces the surrounding neighborhood and the other businesses in the development. The ground floor, for example, fronts a civic plaza and, internally, Gallery W is open to the public, with rotating exhibits promoting art – and American Greetings' importance to the local community. Ultimately, the American Greetings Creative Studios world headquarters is a successful example of design collaboration, workplace innovation and community connection. Success is social Not surprisingly, the courtyard is one of the team's favorite spaces in the complex. And how do we know? Social media tell us. It might seem unlikely that feedback gleaned from social media could begin to replace something more official like a post-occupancy survey, but in some ways, it's even better. Through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we get real, unvarnished thoughts from the very people American Greetings is trying to attract. And positive social-media engagement is almost a litmus test for attracting the millennial demographic that every company should court to keep thriving. Among comments from employees: These posts are more than just kind words – they're a window into what the talent pool values and, intentional or not, they're a reflection on the company and a solid recruiting tool. Staff even called the headquarters "the Google of the Midwest," showing that a well-designed, creative workspace can attract talented people anywhere. Adding green to office design just became a much easier decision. Jennifer Barnes, IIDA, LEED AP, is a senior associate vice president at the global architecture, design and planning firm CallisonRTKL, focusing on large corporate clients and public institutions. On Twitter: "It's only the third week in our #agcreativestudios and every day I'm so happy to have a window seat." On Facebook: "Completely in love with American Greetings' new offices. #AGCreativeStudios" On Instagram: "The first week in our new building was absolutely in- credible. I can't get over just how stunning and inspiring the new space is. It's amazing how much our environment impacts our creativity, isn't it? Love all the pops of color throughout the building!" th E l E a DER DECEMBER 2017 51

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