Blog written by Findorff’s Deana Turner, Director of Project Management
It can be tough to encourage creativity and innovation in traditional offices. Nevertheless, my experience on the project team for Epic's headquarters has taught me that businesses are addressing this obstacle. By rethinking the places where we work, Epic is striking a creative chord with employees through the built environment. How might this be achieved? The answer involves using common building materials in uncommon ways, which can even help with the cost control of projects.
This is exemplified by Epic's incredibly creative Storybook Campus. The Campus buildings are inspired by stories likely familiar to your childhood including Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as well as tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. The Campus is also supported by a parking ramp, named after the famous, nonsensical Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky.
Although each building is unique, all were built with materials common to our everyday practice. For example, renderings of a conference room inspired by a gingerbread house showed a frosting-like embellishment. Findorff carpenters brainstormed options to transform the rendering into an architectural reality. MDF plywood was the solution. It was routed and curved to provide the frosting shape. Once painted and installed, the MDF plywood created a gooey icing that would have even tricked Hansel and Gretel into thinking it was real.
For the building inspired by Alice in Wonderland, designers wanted its exterior to mimic the architecture from when the story was originally written. Brick was certainly prevalent at the time and is commonly used in many of our projects today. Our masons rose to the occasion and carefully crafted exterior brickwork with patterns and arches of various dimensions. Perhaps the most challenging was a whimsical, twisted, three-story brick chimney.
Digital wall coverings are also featured throughout the Storybook Campus. They add color, energy, and a playful atmosphere while being very cost effective. They enhance the themed environment and include a poppy field to depict where Dorothy fell asleep on her way to The Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, gingerbread, and candy canes.
Walking the Campus today, along with the thousands of employees located here, I am inspired by the colors and approaches that exemplify thinking outside of the box, using both common and inexpensive materials in creative ways. Building such interesting and engaging environments can encourage great work, and be done at a reasonable cost. Any business can create unique office spaces regardless of the scope. It just takes a little creativity with a side of quality craftsmanship.