Green Building and Design Magazine
With a biowall, open layouts, and an all-natural cafeteria, AWeber’s new offices reflect the ever-evolving workplace
If you ask Tom Kulzer why he decided to include not just one slide but two in the new headquarters for his e-mail marketing software company, AWeber Communications, he turns the question back on you: “Why not?” Everybody loves going down slides, they’re a greener alternative to elevators, and they’re quicker than taking the stairs. Okay, they only go one way, but ultimately, slides are just plain fun. Even Kulzer’s 87-year-old grandpa has taken a ride.
Most designers are well aware of the phenomenon of the “fun” office, blurring the lines between work and play with amenities we didn’t put in offices 10 years ago. When Kulzer decided to move his company out of its old office space, which no longer met AWeber’s climate-control needs, he saw an opportunity to create a space that was more comfortable and reflective of the company’s core values—collaboration, innovation, sustainability, and fun.To increase workplace socialization, an in-house kitchen employs three chefs and serves complimentary meals made with local, organic ingredients.
A far cry from the company’s 1998 beginnings in Kulzer’s two-bedroom apartment, the 71, 000-square-foot facility serves as the foundation for the company’s culture and employees. The new headquarters is a renovation of an old DaimlerChrysler building in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, one hour outside Philadelphia. AWeber opened the space by adding a light-filled atrium, and now when guests enter, they are met with two giant slides—one white and one blue—a large living wall by GSky Plant Systems, and a two-story rain curtain. With this initial space, the tone is set immediately; the lobby alone hits on all four of AWeber’s core values.
“People don’t get excited about buildings; they get excited about working together, ” Kulzer says. “It’s about the team coming together and being able to smile and help others around the world.” This people-based approach manifests itself in a facility that allows collaboration in all its workspaces. The office has flexible, mobile workstations with equipment and furniture that allow desks, chairs, and computers to be mixed and matched with other spaces. AWeber recently had to affix name badge signs to everyone’s desks because they would become lost from moving around so often, making dropping packages or memos to a desk nearly impossible. The office also includes 3, 500 square feet of writable wall surface and numerous informal gathering spaces, allowing inspiration and creativity to take hold at any moment. Kulzer himself works in an open workstation identical to the other team members, creating a more interesting and accessible space.AWeber’s new offices allow employees to work in a wide range of environments. Floor-to-ceiling windows throughout ensure that these varying work areas have natural light.
All these interactive aspects can be seen as just added “fun” elements, but Kulzer says he believes they create a better, more efficient workplace. “A building is just a tool to bring people together, ” Kulzer says. “When it’s properly designed and thought out, the office gets out of the way and melts into the background.”
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How To Use Green Building Designs in Your Home
We were designed to live in a beautiful environment called Paradise and were given the task to take care of it. Fast forward to the present day, and we already know we failed on both counts. That’s why we have increasingly alarming rates of global warming, but like everything imperfect in this world, it is never too late to reverse the damage. We have been warned so let’s take heed by thinking Green.