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Charlotte, NC

Corporate Campus Headquarters

A New Paradigm for the American Workplace

status

Ongoing

client

Centene Corporation

expertise

Office + Corporate Campus

services

Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Master Planning, Land Planning

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An Unexpected Challenge Pushes Innovation

A Fortune 500 company seized the opportunity to pivot their strategy for their new east coast headquarters to address the rapidly changing needs of their employees.

In 2020, Centene Corporation announced the expansion of their East Coast presence with a new corporate campus in Charlotte, North Carolina–marking the first transformative job creation project in the state. The global healthcare conglomerate set a bold vision for their 80-acre campus to aid in recruitment and retention of employees, streamline operations, and generate community-wide benefit. Two years later, evolving market conditions lead Centene to change course, and while the corporation will no longer occupy the campus, they’re committed to completing the first phase of the project. LandDesign is engaged in a dynamic partnership comprised of public and private stakeholders and multi-disciplinary design firms who are proven to be instrumental in bringing the campus to fruition.

The client’s investment in the campus extends far beyond the project’s boundaries, setting a new standard for infrastructure, mobility, sustainability, and amenity. Located in Charlotte’s University City neighborhood, the campus is intentionally designed to service diverse user groups with various needs. Originally a reflection of the Centene brand, the campus is a workplace environment where every employee can grow and flourish. Flexible outdoor spaces encourage planned and spontaneous collaboration, and a series of pedestrian paths connect to existing public greenways to encourage recreation during the workday. The preservation of trees on site creates a natural shaded canopy that immerses employees in nature while adding a layer of security and privacy.

While the design process was progressing on-schedule, an unprecedented global pandemic nearly stopped the project in its tracks. However, rather than viewing the pandemic as a setback, LandDesign embraced it as an opportunity to innovate. Our ability to stay nimble created a platform for fresh ideas and forward-thinking strategies that resulted in a new paradigm for the American workplace.

Leveraging our experience in navigating complex public-private partnerships, we were able to align the objectives and goals of various stakeholders with the 'big picture' vision for the campus.

— Shaun Tooley, PLA

Our Vision

Harmonizing the Landscape and Built Environment

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The design of the campus explores how people transition to and from the office buildings, prioritizing their experience between physical spaces. With extreme topography and environmental systems at play, the architectural elements integrate effortlessly with the existing landscape, allowing nature to take center stage. A well-planted entry experience, central plaza, and signature lake feature welcome employees to this inspiring campus. A spectrum of open space amenities, including outdoor terraces, yoga pavilions, and flexible meeting nooks, support an environment that promotes employee health and wellness and encourages productivity and collaboration. A network of pedestrian pathways and bridges weave together these amenities to the office building, creating a truly connected employee experience.

Pursuing WELL Certification

Significant investment in green infrastructure serves as a key component to achieving WELL accreditation for enhanced access to nature. The central plaza acts as a mobility hub, connecting to adjacent open space amenities and a network of trails and greenways. The trail and greenway access is a valuable resource to employees, encouraging them to integrate nature and recreation into their workday.

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The Challenge

Collaborating in the Virtual Realm

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Working with new health and safety parameters challenged us to reassess our approach to interdisciplinary collaboration to maintain the accelerated project schedule. While in-person meetings were put on hold, we explored new technologies and means for virtual collaboration to allow every team member to provide feedback and refine the design in a shared space. We utilized drone surveying and up-to-the-minute aerial photography to create a 3D model of the site that evolved in real time.

This model included the civil elements–underground infrastructure–and landscape elements–modeled and materialized surfaces and trees–which were plugged into the architect’s model for a comprehensive look at the project at any given time. Spatial conflict resolution was performed during a weekly BIM collaboration meeting with the entire team navigating the 3D model. This allowed the ownership team to clearly envision the final design and provide concise feedback, and the contractor could visualize what they needed to build prior to ever breaking ground. Working together in a 3D digital setting allowed the entire project team to be on the same page throughout every phase of the process.

Embracing Our One Firm, Long Hallways Mantra

Nearly 30 LandDesigners, spanning three offices and multiple disciplines, including master planners, landscape architects, civil engineers, and horticulturists, were engaged to support the design and production for this corporate campus. This flexibility allowed us to leverage our collective expertise and knowledge across the firm to identify the right solutions for this project.

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Our Approach

Designing for Multiple Users and Uses

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Physical

Balance the architectural elements with the natural landscape by nestling the office buildings into preserved woodlands and open space amenities

Functional

Leverage the site’s proximity to existing public greenways and trails to encourage movement to and from the campus

Social

Design flexible spaces that welcome collaboration and social diversity

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Physical

Balance the architectural elements with the natural landscape by nestling the office buildings into preserved woodlands and open space amenities

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Functional

Leverage the site’s proximity to existing public greenways and trails to encourage movement to and from the campus

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Social

Design flexible spaces that welcome collaboration and social diversity

A Process Built on Trust

Our ability to stay nimble created a platform for fresh ideas and forward-thinking strategies that resulted in a new paradigm for the American workplace.