United Therapeutics Designs Urban Campus

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Chair Of The Month

Among the finalists of our Work Design Now series sponsored by Haworth is United Therapeutics Corporation, which EwingCole designed.

United Therapeutics Corporation (Unither) is a biotechnology company that develops and commercializes products for patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions. To facilitate greater connectivity throughout their company, they decided in 2012 to design an urban campus in Silver Spring, Md., that would link multiple buildings together by green spaces and pedestrian bridges.

The cornerstone of Unither’s campus is the 100,000 square-foot headquarters designed by EwingCole. The firm used Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology to meet an aggressive, 15-month delivery deadline by performing energy analysis, coordinating system infrastructure, validating design impact, and evaluating logistics.

Said Yuri Van Mierlo, manager of corporate real estate at Unither, “We’ve experienced a 10-fold increase in inter-departmental interaction since the building opened. We highly value collaboration, and the new building provides intentional and coincidental opportunities to achieve that — from our conference rooms and sitting areas to the cafe tables, which all are meant to be shared.”

The interior atmosphere is geared toward sparking innovation and informal exchanges, thereby encouraging creativity, interaction, and teamwork. Interactive monitors at the elevator lobbies provide messages to employees and visitors, but they also collect feedback and messages from those waiting.

Spaces also include informal team lounges, individual chromatherapy pods, roof terraces, and a tea garden. Large lockers dispersed throughout the facility facilitate mobility between workstations; they are designed to house files, computers, cell phone chargers, even a change of clothes.

Said Gayle Lane, senior interior designer at EwingCole, “Their corporate culture gave us an opportunity to design some highly themed work environments. Each floor is identified by a unique set of colors and identity. The floors are called Activity, Unity, Education, Research, Communication, and Leadership. It was great working with a client team that was visually astute and fully engaged in the design process.”

Flexible expansion options throughout all floors of the office create an interactive office environment that is attuned to a variety of work modes — both individual and collaborative. Employee amenities such as a gym, cafe, and daycare enhance the elusive work/life balance and support employee morale.

Unither wanted to create a building that embraces technology while simultaneously embracing nature. To capture these themes, the main atrium incorporates water features symbolic of the historic Silver Spring, as well as a living wall that, while decorative, also helps filter the air. The pedestrian connector to the adjacent building appears high-tech, but integrates that fundamental human element — the DNA strand — that is core to Unither’s business.

And thanks in part to innovative technologies like the high-yield, bifacial solar photovoltaic panels, the project achieved LEED Gold.

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