Size 270,000 ft²
Program Office space, training facilities, full-service cafeteria
Zen doesn’t describe the typical office building, but DaVita Inc., the Denver-based kidney-dialysis provider, has a new headquarters that promotes health, wellness, and inclusiveness through ‘Zen rooms,’ ‘front porches,’ and a top-floor herb garden. “At DaVita we are a community first and a company second, which shapes how we approached anything that will affect ‘The Village’ and our teammates,” says Rebecca Griggs, vice president of value creation for DaVita.
This sense of cooperation is well-reflected in the 270,000-square-foot, 14-story building, which was completed in August 2012 and will house 900 employees when fully occupied. “We did a lot of things that focused on developing community in the building,” says Jack Mousseau, partner, principal, and director of design at MOA Architecture, which designed the DaVita project in partnership with developer Trammell Crow Company. “DaVita didn’t want to have the top floor owned by the executives. They wanted to have it owned by teammates. You don’t have to be an executive to have access to the views.”
Instead of C-level offices, the building’s top floor features the DaVita Marketplace: a full-service kitchen and dining area, plus a 5,000-square-foot outdoor terrace—all of which are open to everyone. The building’s core is also open, rather than occupied by mechanical systems, to give employees better views and access to natural daylight throughout the space. Six of the workspace floors are paired off, sharing two-story atria that help encourage employees to move about the building. Additionally, collaborative work spaces dubbed ‘front porches’ are scattered throughout the building in appealing locations with proximity to large windows.
Developer Trammell Crow Company
Architect MOA Architecture
General Contractor Saunders Construction
With a goal of creating numerous open-air spaces to give employees access to fresh air and views of the Rocky Mountains, Mousseau and his team also included exterior plazas and terraces designed to maximize views and enhance the buildings placement along Denver’s renowned 16th Street Mall.
Look, walk, meditate
In addition to encouraging collaboration, the new headquarters is intended to provide a healthful work environment. “For all of the time and energy teammates give DaVita, it is our responsibility to make sure we give them every opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilled work life,” Griggs says. Employees have access to a full-service fitness room, along with shower facilities, and each floor has a ‘Zen room,’ a quiet contemplative space that can be used for meditation. As Mousseau puts it, “Everybody needs a Zen room, don’t they?”
The building encourages movement as well. A main stairwell is equipped with ample lighting and decorated with murals so that teammates will consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and open stairs are located within each two-story atrium, providing convenient connections between floors.
Certification LEED Gold (expected)
Site Readily accessible by mass transit
Materials Low- or no-VOCs, locally sourced materials, certified wood products
Water Low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets
Energy High-efficiency boilers, economizer systems
Landscape Native grasses and perennials
“It helps to encourage a healthy lifestyle and a healthy approach to work,” Mousseau says. Part of this is healthy food; employees maintain planters dedicated to herbs and vegetables on the outdoor terrace while the Marketplace menu features a broad array of healthful lunch options.
High- and low-tech
A building’s overall design decides the vibe of the work environment, and Trammell Crow, MOA Architecture, and DaVita created a true piece of architecture. “It’s a noticeable building,” says Bill Mosher, a senior managing director in Trammell Crow’s Denver office. “It’s got some personality and character to it.”
Clad in high-performance glass from Viracon—glazed with a blue tint as a nod to one of DaVita’s corporate colors—the building is pursuing LEED Gold certification and incorporates an impressive collection of sustainable features. “We wanted DaVita’s new headquarters to be reflective of our stance that caring for our environment is part of being a good corporate citizen,” Griggs says. Green materials, such as the headquarters’ low- or no-VOC coatings and finishes from Sherwin-Williams and Sonneborn, bolster the company’s goal of employee wellness.
High-efficiency boilers by Harsco Industrial Patterson-Kelley, economizer systems, carbon-dioxide monitoring, and variable controls for nighttime heating and cooling are just a few of the systems and solutions employed throughout the building, which in the end should use roughly 31 percent less energy than a comparable facility.
Sophisticated lighting controls from Setpoint Systems and ample LEDs will help cut electricity use, and Denver’s climate is part of the equation too—the building’s interior is designed to bring in as much of the Mile High City’s plentiful sunshine as possible. Likewise, water consumption is reduced through low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets, and native landscaping, including grasses and perennials.
All a site can offer
The building’s site wasn’t accidental. “We chose the building location because of its proximity to mass transit, which helps . . . reduce our carbon footprint in the local community and beyond,” Griggs says. Adjacent to Denver Union Station, all forms of public transit, including light rail and buses, are readily accessible, and many employees allegedly are selecting housing based in part on proximity to rail stops. Shrewdly, the architects included a mere 260 dedicated parking spaces at the headquarters—meaning just more than a quarter of employees can drive and park—as a way to encourage greener transit options.
As a new addition to Denver, DaVita World Headquarters should get attention from developers, designers, and builders to see the building as a model for greener office space with more healthful amenities. After all, doesn’t everyone need a Zen room?