REIMAGINING THE CORPORATE ENVIRONMENT
PROJECT: Shell North American Headquarters
With the increasingly important focus on work-life balance, Shell wanted their new campus to be an atypical work environment with a cohesive, focused and flexible ambiance inside and out.
Work-life balance is the holy grail of most employees today; therefore, it has become equally as important to employers.
The amount of time most employees spend in today’s office environment is second only to the amount of time they spend at home. This coincides with one of the most competitive markets ever for attracting and retaining high-caliber professionals. The integration of this balance is changing how we view workplaces, as they are the new communities that are altering the parameters of landscape design. It’s also what drove the landscape design of this particular world-class office campus in West Houston.
Shell Oil North American Headquarters, also known as Shell Woodcreek, is a certified LEED Gold office complex in Houston’s dynamic Energy Corridor. Growth in the energy sector after 2010 provided the conditions favorable to consolidate their corporate resources and expand their campus to meet the current needs. The expansion of 1.2 million square feet of office, conference, dining and health amenities prompted a re-imagining of what the new campus could be in light of the changes taking place in the workforce.
Clark Condon was tasked to bring the outdoor and indoor settings together, naturally and consistently. The desired landscape would be a soft contrast to the form and arrangement of modern office buildings that define the central space.
Part of the design challenge was to locate detention ponds, jogging and hiking trails, reforestation areas, and links to buildings in such a way that the campus maintained a cohesive and logical integration with architecture, yet remained focused as a natural setting. An additional design challenge was to protect the environment and shield it from its surroundings, as the site is adjacent to busy Interstate Highway 10.
Careful consideration was given to the selection of building materials and site furniture to subtly incorporate Shell’s red and yellow brand colors and scallop seashell logo throughout the campus. A custom cream and yellow concrete paver and natural quartzite stone with hints of coral cover pedestrian areas, walkways, and driveways.
By using curvilinear forms that established the framework for extended workspaces, indoor components, such as meeting spaces, moved outside. The outdoor spaces provide opportunities to support health and well-being while improving employee focus, learning, collaboration, and interaction with others. Strategic programming and design leads to more activities, which equals happier, more productive employees. The result was an outdoor environment that encourages daily activity and exercise participation by employees. Numerous studies have been done regarding the healing powers of nature, and that exposure to nature on a daily basis improves mental health and overall well-being.
The landscape also bolsters Shell’s Wellness Program, a program intended to regularly support the very best minds in the energy industry and their quest to deliver solutions to the world’s energy challenges. The physical landscape helped provide some leverage in engaging Shell’s workforce in their ongoing critical mission. At Shell Woodcreek, the workspace is no longer confined to four walls. An entire campus is at employees' fingertips to conduct business in a positive and meaningful way and in a variety of spaces.
Clark Condon is working with Shell again on their adjacent Legacy Campus to create a park, native wildflower areas and a recreation area for sports and events. These enhancements will be completed in 2020.