Create Centre: Shaw’s new design center is positively impacting more than just its products - Apr 2019

By Beth Miller

When Shaw set out to build its new Create Centre, the $25 million home for its Shaw Contract and Patcraft brands, its goal was for the facility to function as a laboratory, a place in which the creation of products goes hand-in-hand with the experience of working atop them, an opportunity to put vision into action and ideas into production.

To that end, the company strategically considered location and ultimately chose to locate its Create Centre in Bartow County, Georgia, centrally located between North Georgia and Atlanta and on a property adjacent to its pilot manufacturing plant and across the street from its original carpet tile plant. The location streamlines collaboration between creative and manufacturing teams, enables the company to recruit talent from both the North Georgia and Atlanta areas, and offers easy access to local airports.

Shaw partnered with Gensler on the project, keeping specific design goals in mind that would ultimately provide Shaw Contract and Patcraft employees a multitude of unique work environments. At the heart of the design goals lies Shaw’s people and core values. Shaw started with Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index (WPI) to help it better understand how the employees worked and what type of space was used for each type of work. Out of this came the goals of supporting employees in their preferred work styles, attracting top-notch talent and promoting a healthy way of life.

Ron Powell, senior product designer with Patcraft, notes, “As a creative person, I was skeptical about moving into an open office environment. I was used to having my own space to create and work, and I wasn’t sure how this would translate into the new building. A transformation occurred in me the very first week of being in a state-of-the-art facility. Because I was no longer in a cramped, messy design studio, I was able to focus my creative energy and be more productive and collaborative. The Create Centre is an amazing building where I thrive each and every day. Walking through the front door, into the lobby daily sets my mood to ‘awesome!’ I love the atmosphere, surroundings, furniture, work spaces and showrooms that inspire and allow me to be my very best.”

DESIGN
The futuristic Create Centre, completed in 2017, is situated in a rural setting with farmland and residential areas as the backdrop. A prominent design element is the deep orange louvered solar shade, which directs sunlight into the glass-encased building while reducing glare. The orange used on the solar shade references International Orange, a color used in the aerospace field as a nod to the futuristic look of the facility. It also pays homage to the deep, reddish-orange of Georgia clay that can be seen on the nearby quarry face of Ladd’s Mountain.

The concept focused primarily on employee productivity and wellbeing. The wow-factor is immediate upon entering the LEED Silver-certified facility. Shaw Contract’s Resurgence, a light engineered hardwood, welcomes visitors into the three-story high atrium that showcases the interior’s central design piece-the staircase. Design statements are imprinted on select steps to inspire and motivate.

Potential acoustical challenges from the pairing of the hard surface flooring and the high, open space are thwarted by the use of spray sound deadener on the ceiling. While the majority of light in the space is courtesy of the building’s glass exterior, LED lighting is used throughout to supplement the natural light. It is worth noting that 98% of the occupied spaces within the building have direct exposure to the outdoors.

The first floor of the Create Centre houses the Social Hub, which has the capacity to host 40 guests. In 2018 alone, Shaw entertained 140 groups of clients in the Create Centre. The Social Hub uses Patcraft’s ReThink woven LVT in its resimercial-type spaces. Fun furnishings, like bright pink Moroso chairs and tables that allow for comfortable work or break environments, are used throughout the various first floor spaces. Beyond the public and private areas lies a patio complete with Wi-Fi and a community garden.

Shaw Contract calls the second-floor home, and Patcraft takes up residence on the third. There is an elevator running parallel to the aforementioned staircase, and the ceiling of each elevator alcove uses carpet tile-like products called Brush Tile for sound abatement. Just outside the second and third floor elevator alcoves, visitors walk into a quaint lobby space backed with a wooden bookshelf stocked with design magazines. Patcraft’s third-floor showroom makes use of its own LVT product-Withdraw from the Subtractive Layers collection. The hallways on both floors use Shaw Contract’s Solitude wood-look LVT.

The heads-down spaces and conference rooms on each floor are named after a childhood toy-Mr. Potato Head, Kaleidoscope, Lego, Hot Wheels, Yo-Yo and Lite Brite, for example. Moving into the contemporary kitchen area, employees can prepare a meal or simply meet to chat. An exercise room is also available to employees.

SUCCESS
In a recent conversation between John Stephens, vice president of marketing for Shaw Contract, and Meena Krenek, Gensler’s Atlanta, Georgia design director, Krenek commented on the importance of “the value good design can have on people’s lives every day.” According to Krenek, the benefit of the relationship with Shaw and the experimental nature of this particular project allows Gensler to continue to improve upon the design and architectural elements based on the data from the WPI.

Gensler’s WPI quantifies the success of projects through the use of pre- and post-occupancy surveys. One year after Shaw began inhabiting the space, Gensler returned to perform the post-occupancy portion of the WPI. The firm focused on four modes of working-focus work, collaboration, learning and socializing-and used these to analyze and ask specific questions that would measure how the space affects how the employees work in the different modes. Essentially, it measures how they worked in their previous space versus the new space.

The post-occupancy showed that 96% of employees are highly committed to Shaw versus the pre-occupancy rate of 79%. As for how the employees feel at the end of their work day, 49% reported feeling energized versus 23% previously. When it comes to missing work due to illness, the rate was 74% pre-occupancy and 89% post-occupancy. Shaw’s overall WPI score was 73 compared to 46 in the previous facility.

According to Alison Wolff, brand operations manager for Shaw Contract, “When we worked in our previous space, I would end most days exhausted and without the energy necessary to spend quality time with my family. After moving into the Create Centre, I begin and end each day with the same amount of high energy, ready to tackle the day at work and balance my personal time, too.”

Gensler also reported a few things it learned and are working to improve. In an effort to further improve acoustics in certain areas, the firm is looking at adding white noise or, in the future, positioning the focus rooms differently to help reduce acoustical issues. Thermal comfort in specific spaces is also on the list. Lastly, the Wi-Fi connection within the entire facility could use tweaking to maximize the signal.

Krenek says of Shaw and the Create Centre, “The brand lives in the hallways of these spaces so the people have to be really happy and excited to be a part of the work, and what I realize, when we walk the halls of Shaw Create Centre now, is that the people exude such high energy and creativity. I am a true believer in the design of the space and its impact on how people work.”

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