Bringing Corporate Culture to Building Space
Greenleaf Trust recently expanded their services in the West Michigan market with a new office in historic downtown Grand Rapids. The Kalamazoo-based company has opened its new 4,500-square-foot space in the 25 Ottawa building.
Greenleaf Trust partnered with TowerPinkster, a full-service architecture and engineering firm in downtown Grand Rapids, to illuminate the character of downtown’s modern corporate culture and the company’s family values. The building was purchased by Catalyst Development in early 2016, and houses Spectrum Health Information Technology offices, Fairly Painless Advertising and Iron Restaurant.
Greenleaf Trust is a privately-held wealth management firm with over $8 billion in assets. With additional offices in Birmingham, Traverse City, and Petoskey, the Grand Rapids office will house five team members with experience in wealth management, family and foundation services, trusts and estates and retirement plan services.
Challenging Renovation Spaces
The 25 Ottawa building was originally built in 1904 by the Worden Grocery Company, and was used as a warehouse and distribution space until the mid-1990’s, when it was renovated in concurrence with the opening of Van Andel Arena. The entire building was renovated again in 2015, with the exception of the spaces now occupied by Greenleaf Trust and Fairly Painless.
When Catalyst Development acquired the building, they teamed with TowerPinkster to design an upscale office environment for Greenleaf Trust, in what was a timber-framed suite. This prominent location was desirable for many reasons to Greenleaf Trust: ties to their clientele, attraction of top talent to a desirable urban location and proximity to related businesses and services to create a home for Greenleaf Trust in Grand Rapids.
"Inherent in the century-old building was the challenge to incorporate a modern open office environment and building systems in a seamless, high-aesthetic design concept.” said Jason Novotny, director of design for TowerPinkster, and lead designer for the project. “To feature the existing timber frame structure, the new design elements were placed carefully around the main structure, and all utility services were routed under the floor to minimize the visual impact and allow a clean, contemporary vibe in the space.”
21st Century Work Environment
Ideas about allowing a mobile, active workplace were a newer initiative for Greenleaf Trust, as their workforce and clientele are seeing a shift towards a balance of baby boomers, Generation X and millennials. This direction led to the creation of benching concepts, establishing the kitchen/coffee area as a place where work takes place, and creating significant visual transparency and connections between work spaces. The idea of being connected with technology, while having a personal connection to clients, is important in the Greenleaf Trust philosophy. Therefore the environment is technology-rich, and includes multiple locations for technical collaboration to occur. In the interest of client confidentiality, both conference rooms utilize phase changing switchglass to allow the room to become instantly opaque, if needed.
TowerPinkster’s design draws from the history of the building, the modern redevelopment of neighboring businesses and the client-centered, high-touch approach of Greenleaf Trust. The result is a workplace which incorporates sophistication and energy into a blend of urban corporate culture and family values.
“We chose rich tones for the interior elements of the building, which included incorporating the green accents from the Greenleaf Trust brand,” said Novotny. “The interior Live Wall element is a contemporary take on interior plantscaping that continues to tie in the brand and draws interest from passers-by on the sidewalk or in their cars.”
Furthering the high touch concept, tactile and custom materials can be seen in the featured break area “barista bar” and island where custom floor, wall, millwork and ceiling elements converge. Lighting elements were used to highlight these materials, giving texture and tone importance in the space. This is seen especially in the full-sized reclaimed wood wall which wraps the large conference room. A signature light fixture by Louis Poulsen is featured in the lobby, which echoes similar fixtures used in the Greenleaf Trust headquarters in Kalamazoo.