Key drivers for the renovation of Unilever’s Chicago office space included the following:
Equality For All
The NELSON Team provided an open office environment for all staff, allowing for better communication and opportunities for teaming among employees. The barrier created by walled offices or high partitions, which existed in Unilever’s previous space, was eliminated through the use of workstations with low panels, which allowed staff to be accessible, more team-oriented and transparent, as the new company management desired.
The NELSON Team energized the space by introducing vibrant colors in shared open areas such as cafes, copy areas, conference rooms and open meeting areas. This concept was further enhanced through the use of unique and whimsical furniture pieces in lounge areas, lighting in café areas, and a 3-dimensional ceiling at entrance, as well as the use of bright fabrics and wallcoverings.
Although Unilever was unable to secure a budget to pursue a LEED certification, the NELSON Team, as a sustainability conscious company, introduced materials with high recycled or sustainable content. For example, in the boardroom NELSON specified palmwood on the walls, bamboo perforated ceiling panels, as well as millwork furniture and flooring with high recycled content.
Additional key design elements include the use of glass on conference room fronts and in entrance areas – providing the openness and transparency desired by Unilever. The company also took a unique approach to the centrally located Executive area. Surrounded by glass, the executive staff work in an open environment with their desks arranged in a “Stonehenge” style around a center, walk up work table. The space epitomizes the spirit of collaboration and transparency and allows the executives to set the example for the rest of the company.