flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

A massive office reno project in Detroit sought to create destination spaces for returning workers

Office Buildings

A massive office reno project in Detroit sought to create destination spaces for returning workers

The interior design firm Pophouse relied heavily on employee input for a pilot remodel.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | October 26, 2021
One of the abiding design factors in the renovation of Rocket Mortgage Technology's headquarters was to reinforce the company's brand. Images: Courtesy of Pophouse
Pophouse's pilot design for Rocket Mortgage Technology's headquarters was meant to reinforce the brand in ways that employees coming back to offices could relate to. Images: Courtesy of Pophouse

The Rock Family of Companies, which includes Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans, is one of Detroit’s largest employers, with 17,000 workers. Over the past several months, many of those employees have been returning to their offices, more than 1 million sf of which in several buildings were renovated in 2020, while those spaces were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pophouse—a nine-year-old interior design studio owned by Jennifer Gilbert,, the wife of Dan Gilbert, Rock’s chairman and majority owner—came up with the design concept for this renovation project through a pilot program at Rocket Mortgage Technology’s four-story 288,000-sf headquarters in the One Campus Martius Building that, initially, involved around 40 employees for several months in 2019, and then was refined to the point where it could be rolled out for 2,000 workers.

“The goal was to offer a destination and collaborative space for innovation,” says Mike Malloy, Chief Amazement Officer for Rock Central, a professional services firm that’s part of Rocket Companies. Jennifer Janus, Pophouse’s President, says her firm’s mission on this project was to create a positive impact on employees and visitors by using data and metrics to inform its design.

Five parameters defined the pilot’s design:

•Culture + Community, where branded moments demonstrate organizational identity;

•Team + Wellness, where workers are exposed to the outdoors and natural light;

•Collaboration that allows team members to work together within new orientations;

•Tech Integration that reduces extraneous equipment and facilitates team meetings wherever employees are working;

•Flexible Amenity Settings, where private offices are designed with small or larger gathering tables, where team ownership of spaces allows each group to manage its physical assets, and where communal amenities, like kitchens and conference rooms, support all individuals on that floor.

OFFICES WERE BEING USED SPARSELY

 

An intimate quiet meeting place in Rocket Mortgage Technology's headquarters.
Employee surveys informed Pophouse's design to include intimate, quieter meeting places in Rocket Mortgage Technology's offices.
 

A survey of employees for the pilot found that 90 percent would use a quiet place at work if it were made available, and that 80 percent wanted more conference rooms. More significant were the findings that 36 percent of room needs per hour were for two-person meetings, and that on an average day 30 percent of the office’s tech team does not come into the building, and that even at its highest level, 20 percent aren’t in the office on a given day.

Pophouse, working with the GC Braun Construction Group and the architect Rossetti, tested all kinds of things: smaller desk surfaces, collaborative zones and software, training areas, additional monitors for teams to use, desk utilization, and digital behaviors.

Different work settings in Rocket Mortgage Technology's redesigned HQs.
Pophouse included different work settings in its redesign of Rocket Mortgage Technology's office space.
 

It found that workers could acclimate themselves to a smaller, five-ft desk surface; that they preferred high-top tables to casual seating in collaborative areas; that non-bookable team spaces were “highly valued” and led to different employee behaviors and team rituals; that flexible conditions resonated positively; that new technology should be deployed and tested thoroughly; and that finding solutions that permit onsite and remote work transparently was imperative.

The test space contained new types of work settings for the team to leverage. These included one-on-one spaces, smaller collaborative spaces with soft seating, quiet areas, so-called “touchdown” spaces for spontaneous and quick interaction, and enhanced tech to improve the remote working experience.

Pophouse’s “neighborhood” concept included determining a kit of parts creating a “home base” for team members, which would allow an “ecosystem” of work settings for individuals to choose from. The concept reduced the quantity of workstations but increased the number of overall seats per floor. 

OFFICE-TO-RESIDENTIAL COULD BE NEXT OPPORTUNITY

A shared kitchen amenity
Pophouse's design included common amenities that all returning employees could feel are their own.
 

The firm’s pilot design—which assumes a hybrid work model—revolves around these principles: culture is key, variety over repetition, full sensory performance that reduces distractions, a spectrum of shared and individual spaces, a “playground of perspective” where teams share a “home,” the smart home that functions seamlessly with the office space, a clutter-free workspace, authenticity, and “driven simplicity.”

As the design was applied to offices in other Rock-owned buildings, Pophouse worked with building teams that included the AE firm NORR and Whiting-Turner Construction.

Pophouse, with 30 employees, over the years has completed several thousand large and small projects for Gilbert’s businesses in Detroit, Cleveland, and Miami. But Pophouse still gets 40 percent of its work from other clients. Janus foresees opportunities doing more work in states like California and Florida that would include converting vacated office spaces to residential. Malloy notes that his company is “intrigued” by a pending bill in Washington D.C. that would provide funding for such conversions. 

Related Stories

Office Buildings | May 19, 2022

JLL releases its 2022 Office Fit Out Guide

JLL’s 2022 Office Fit Out Guide report provides benchmark costs to build out a range of office types across major markets in the United States and Canada.

Headquarters | May 10, 2022

JPMorgan Chase’s new all-electric headquarters to have net-zero operational emissions

JPMorgan Chase’s recently unveiled plans for its new global headquarters building in New York City that is rife with impressive sustainability credentials.

Building Team | May 6, 2022

Atlanta’s largest adaptive reuse project features cross laminated timber

Global real estate investment and management firm Jamestown recently started construction on more than 700,000 sf of new live, work, and shop space at Ponce City Market. 

Office Buildings | Apr 28, 2022

A 48-story office tower to rise over boomtown Austin

In downtown Austin, Texas, a planned 48-story office tower, The Republic, recently secured its first major tenant—allowing for the groundbreaking by midyear.

Mixed-Use | Apr 22, 2022

San Francisco replaces a waterfront parking lot with a new neighborhood

A parking lot on San Francisco’s waterfront is transforming into Mission Rock—a new neighborhood featuring rental units, offices, parks, open spaces, retail, and parking.

Market Data | Apr 14, 2022

FMI 2022 construction spending forecast: 7% growth despite economic turmoil

Growth will be offset by inflation, supply chain snarls, a shortage of workers, project delays, and economic turmoil caused by international events such as the Russia-Ukraine war.

AEC Tech | Apr 13, 2022

A robot automates elevator installation

  Schindler—which manufactures and installs elevators, escalators, and moving walkways—has created a robot called R.I.S.E. (robotic installation system for elevators) to help install lifts in high-rise buildings.

Office Buildings | Apr 11, 2022

SOM-designed office tower aims to promote health and wellness

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) recently completed work on 800 Fulton Market, a new mixed-use office building in Chicago’s historic Fulton Market/West Loop neighborhood.

Projects | Apr 6, 2022

Ryan Companies expands Chicago presence with new West Loop office

Ryan Companies US, Inc. (Ryan), a national leader in commercial real estate services, announces it has enhanced its Chicago presence with the opening of a new downtown office at 224 North Desplaines in the city’s West Loop neighborhood.

Airports | Apr 4, 2022

Dominican Republic airport expansion will add mixed-use features

The recently revealed design concept for the expansion of Santiago International Airport in the Dominican Republic includes a transformation of the current building into a mixed-use space that features an office park, business center, and hotel.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category




halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: