Goodyear Emphasizes Innovation and Knowledge Sharing at New Campus

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The renovation of the Goodyear HQ in Akron, Oh. was among the most compelling submissions for our 2014 Work Design NOW series, sponsored by Haworth. The top three — announced here — will be profiled in depth in the coming months, but we also want to show off the finalists in short project profiles like the one that follows. Stay tuned for several more.

All images courtesy of Vocon.
All images by Maguire Photo, courtesy of Vocon.

Vocon and Gensler finished an 818,305 square foot renovation of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Global Headquarters in April of last year. Goodyear approached the project with a mission of “Collaboration, Innovation, and Knowledge sharing.”

Although Goodyear has a strong history of innovation as a manufacturer, it has not renovated its headquarters since a period of growth from the 1950s to the 1980s. In one sense, this complex was ahead of its time in that it was a campus which encompassed a company bank, school, gymnasium, and classical theater. This aspect of the original headquarters has been retained in the renovation, which now includes a fitness center, a Goodyear store, training and conference centers, a 450-seat dining area, and a full service food server.

The recent renovation is just one facet of a company-wide movement away from focusing on the product manufacturing to focusing on the knowledge and innovation behind the product.

However, the original headquarters was designed for the more insular workers of that time period, and contained “many enclosed work areas and physical barriers separating both the people and the divisions of the company.”

In attempt to correct this, Goodyear emphasized “Collaboration, Innovation, and Knowledge sharing” in their efforts to modernize their complex. According to Vocon Project Manager Julie Trott, this renovation moved Goodyear’s campus forward by over half a century.

Additionally, Goodyear’s headquarters had previously been divided amongst many buildings across their 100-acre campus. While these divisions were sometimes congruent with company divisions, this was often not the case. In light of this, Goodyear also renovated with an eye to consolidating their current facilities, and ultimately succeeded in reducing their square footage requirements by twenty-seven percent.

As a jumping off point for consolidation, the Corporate and North America headquarter facilities were merged into one facility and combined with the pre-existing Global Research and Development Building (now the Innovation Center) via a multi-story lobby.

“This lobby now serves as the main visitors’ entry for all company divisions and allows for a view into all three aspects of the Company from one vantage point,” said Trott.

The lobby then transitions to a six story atrium bisecting the new Headquarters, providing for “a separate identity for [the Corporate and North America] aspects of the company while maintaining a physical and visual connection to the greater world of the Corporation.” In the lobby and the atrium, bridges also easily connect the Corporate HQ, North America HQ, and Innovation Center, “helping to reinforce the mission of Collaboration, Innovation, and Knowledge sharing.”

According to Trott, a 1,000,000 GSF parking deck and pedestrian skybridge now provide covered, connected parking to the 3,100 professionals working on the campus. In the successfully consolidated headquarters, they’ve emphasized light and transparency, with high ceilings, glass walls, and exterior windows common to all users of the space.

The recent renovation is just one facet of a company-wide movement away from “focusing on the product manufacturing to focusing on the knowledge and innovation behind the product,” said Trott. “As one of the last remaining U.S. tire makers, Goodyear is determined to define its place in the 21st Century.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Vocon as the only architect on the project. Vocon, the architect of record, was joined by Gensler, the design architect, and the project was a collaborative effort between both firms.

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