Seventh Generation’s New HQ Focuses On Agility and Sustainability

TruexCullins designed a fully agile workplace that reflects Seventh Generation’s social, environmental, and strategic aspirations.

Private phone booths and huddle rooms located near individual workstations

Seventh Generation recently completed a major renovation of its global headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. The company hired TruexCullins to design a fully agile workplace that reflects the company’s social, environmental, and strategic aspirations.

The client’s goals for the project were threefold: to expand the size of their on-site R&D Lab; to support projected growth within the company; and to align the workplace experience with the company’s social mission and brand values.

The custom wood-and-steel reception desk is made from selectively harvested tap hole maple from an 8th generation family farm in central Vermont.

When was the project completed? 

2020

How many SF per person?

300

How many employees work here?

125, with space to accommodate growth to 220.

An exhibit wall welcomes visitors with the story of Seventh Generation’s mission and values.

Describe the work space type.

100 percent agile workplace, with free address workstations and shared community tables.

What kind of meeting spaces are provided?

Enclosed huddle rooms, phone booths, and open scrum areas on each floor provide options for flexibility and collaboration among departments. Larger meeting rooms are also dispersed throughout, and the main conference room on the upper level was enlarged to accommodate larger groups. Stepped platforms at the perimeter of the room provide overflow seating.

Shared worktables are separated by furniture spines with custom steel planter boxes and natural greenery.

What other kinds of support or amenity spaces are provided?

The R&D Lab, which is central to the company’s operations, was doubled in size and supplemented by a new Packaging Lab and Testing Lab for product demonstrations.

The main kitchen and dining room accommodates all-staff meetings. Smaller “micro-kitchens” are located on other floors for departmental use.

Has the project achieved any special certifications?

The project is registered with LEED for Commercial Interiors and is awaiting certification. High marks were achieved for superior water efficiency, a comprehensive LED lighting retrofit, and excellent waste management of construction and demolition debris, of which over 90 percent was recycled or diverted from the landfill. Innovative design strategies include the addition of an on-site garden that provides vegetables for the company cafeteria, and a green cleaning policy that reduces indoor contaminants.

The Atrium

What is the projects location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?

The project is located in downtown Burlington Vermont, facing Waterfront Park, home to a festival venue, boardwalk, community boathouse, and the Burlington Greenway Bike Path. Multiple bus lines are located at or near the project site, including the Downtown Transit Center.

Glass huddle rooms line the hallways of each department.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used to create the space?

TruexCullins led an extensive programming and visioning process, working with representatives of all departments and senior leadership. We developed an updated program based on current needs and projected goals, utilizing a long list of resources. This included: research and guidelines by Unilever’s global workplace design team; space calculators, utilization studies and test fit plans; staff surveys and small group meetings; and programming for specialty areas such as the R&D Lab.

The R&D Lab

Were any pre-planning surveys conducted to get employee input?

Yes, a programming survey was administered company-wide, based on Unilever’s global workplace design standards. The survey was used to score workplace performance, employee experience, and to prioritize workplace features and services.

Were any change management initiatives employed?

Yes, representatives of each department were designated as Change Champions, and they facilitated the sharing of information and the collection of feedback from staff. Sessions were held with small groups as well as company-wide meetings to share progress updates as the design progressed.

The wet lab is used for product development and research.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

Health and well-being is a high priority for Seventh Generation as a company, both in the products they make and in the design of this workspace.

As part of the LEED certification process, the project achieved high indoor air quality by using low-emitting materials, increased ventilation and filtration, and recurring indoor air quality testing. Interior landscaping and greenery is incorporated into custom furnishings and display walls, contributing to improved indoor air quality and acoustics. Health rooms are located throughout the space for nursing mothers, and a green cleaning policy was implemented for the office.

This secluded reading nook offers a place for quiet study separate from the open office.

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space?

SILQ task chair and stool – Steelcase

Lagunitas lounge furniture – Steelcase Coalesse

TekVue demountable walls – Teknion

Acoustical felt wall panels and hanging panels –FilzFelt

Decorative pendants – Sonneman Lighting and Ayre Architectural Lighting

Custom metal display walls showcase Seventh Generation product and provides a level of privacy for individual workstations.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

The entry lobby features an exhibit display wall that introduces visitors to the mission and values of the company, which defines the company’s brand.

The central atrium was improved by opening it up to adjacent workspaces on each floor, allowing it to function more critically as a central organizing space. Each floor level is identified by a unique color and tied to one of the company’s five core values, continuing through to each workspace with color coordinated acoustic panels, furnishings, and accents.

The open office workspace is defined by a custom display wall that separates the private workspace from the circulation path. The shelving is used for the display of Seventh Generation product, greenery, and product ingredients.

Conference room

What is the most unique feature of the space?

One of the primary character-defining features of the open workspace is the use of natural plantings integrated into custom furnishings and product display walls. The spine between workstations is a partial-height wall capped by custom steel planter boxes and greenery. The interior landscaping contributes to improved air quality, individual privacy and is a tangible connection with the company’s commitment to plant-based products.

On the display walls flanking the workstations, greenery is combined with Seventh Generation product display and the raw materials used in the creation of the bio-based products.

The circulation plan was reconfigured to improve connections between departments while providing suitable levels of separation between individual and group spaces.

Is there anything else that would help us tell the story of this project?

By combining sustainable design strategies with an agile workspace, the project creates a curated storytelling experience that aligns with the company’s core aspirations: nurture nature, enhance health, transform commerce, and build communities.

In each department, employees share free-address workstations at community tables.

Who else contributed significantly to the project?

Architect and Interior Designer: TruexCullins

Project Manager: Barden Inspection & Consulting Services

MEP Engineer: LN Consulting

General Contractor: Neagley & Chase

Commissioning Agent: Cx Associates

Furniture Supplier: Red Thread

Custom Furnishings: Windy Ledges Metalworks

 

Photography Credit: Greg Premru Photography

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