Clif Bar is a private company guided by Five Aspirations focused on sustaining their business, brands, people, community, and the planet. When they set out to design a renovation and expansion of their Indianapolis facility, it was crucial that their chosen design firm embraced a like-minded approach to incorporating biophilic design, renewable energy, repurposed materials, and locally-sourced materials. The two-story addition doubled the size of their office space while providing a work environment that is centered around the well-being of their employees. Not a single facet of the design was proposed without linking it back to direct evidence that such a feature would matter to the people who would inhabit the space.
Biophilic Design was crucial in creating an interior and exterior that would be an invigorating and comfortable environment for workers who spend long shifts indoors. Drawing on inspiration from the native Indiana geology, the building is clad in rough limestone detailed to express horizontal strata, and utilizes shading devices which draw upon the complexity and order of natural patterns, creating a soft play of light similar to that of a deciduous woodland.
These themes of prospect and refuge continue inside, offering dynamic double-height spaces in which to host all-hands meetings, as well as intimate nooks for private rest and respite. By express intention, every single employee has the same arrival experience and amenities. Bakery staff and office workers alike are intermixed in social spaces under skylights and at critical building zones. Given prominence due to the people it serves, the employee breakroom occupies the outer portion of the second floor. It is afforded sweeping view of the outdoors, and is uniquely branded to reflect the spirit and diversity of Clif Bar’s employees.
CSO’s design process was enhanced through workplace research data provided by DORIS Research as well as input on biophilic design features from Terrapin Bright Green, who has developed biophilic design strategies for other Clif Bar facilities.
MJ Insurance is a national insurance firm headquartered in Carmel, Indiana. The company opened in 1964 with four employees and, upon moving into their new headquarters, had grown into a national firm with over 150 employees at their Indiana location alone. The design team led MJ Insurance through an involved visioning process, culminating in a series of principles to guide the project. These principles had a central theme: capitalize on and enhance an already positive company culture.
While many companies in the insurance industry build offices with high walls, MJ Insurance set out to buck norms. They moved to a highly collaborative open office environment unique to their industry. In order to support this culture-promoting design decision, the team included conference rooms, enclaves, and focus rooms of many shapes and sizes to ensure that both morale and productivity would increase in the new space. Designers worked to provide the right furniture solutions to support an open work environment with a strong need for both collaboration and privacy. Company leadership showed their commitment to the design by joining the employees in open office workstations.
The culture at MJ Insurance centers around six core values: Passion, Leadership, Personal Development, Incremental Growth, Innovation, and Fun. These values drove the entire design – from the open office configuration to the centrally located social areas – but they are most evident in a consistent branding concept. MJ’s boardroom connects to the lobby with a glass storefront, which allows a branded art installation to span the two spaces. At the far end of the conference room is a white grid with vibrant yellow plus signs at many of the intersections. That grid becomes a series of extruded white-and-yellow plus signs of various heights and sizes, suspended from the ceiling and streaming into the lobby until they end over the monumental stair. The grid represents the discipline required for leadership, personal development, and incremental growth while the shape and color of the plus signs connect to MJ’s values of passion and fun. The company instantly connected with the installation and used the concept to relaunch their national brand.
MJ Insurance asked for an infusion of fun in their space. Sliding felt panels, a carpet pattern developed, and a unique series of branding elements did just that for this hard-working group.