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Case Study

Through the Looking Glass

A global healthcare software developer’s wildly themed corporate headquarters is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

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Nestled among rolling farmland lies the sprawling headquarters of a global healthcare software developer. While the company’s products are vital to the future of electronic medical record-keeping, its wildly themed corporate headquarters is just as impressive.

Despite decades of growth and ongoing construction, space is still an issue across the campus, resulting in the recent repurposing of a 30,000 square-foot basement storage area for additional co-working and meeting space. The renovation, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, is an impressive and immersive subterranean installation with a complex combination of floorcovering materials, patterns, seams and colors

Project Background

Home to more than 10,000 employees, the campus of this software giant features dozens of themed areas and buildings, including a castle-like structure, a “fantasyland” inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, and a dining facility designed to mimic a train station.

Wherever you turn there’s something exciting to look at or explore. Designers decided to turn the inside into the outside. The team set out to transform the underground area into an idyllic outdoor greenspace with relevant storybook cues linking the space above. Lighting fixtures would deliver outdoor “views” of sunshine, flowers, and lush, rolling meadows to create a warm, welcoming ambiance, while the interior design incorporates outdoor elements such as foliage, butterflies, and flowers.

And full wall graphics were designed to extend storybook themes from the floors above to create a cohesive branded experience. But the flooring may be the most impactful part of the project.

The company partnered with frequent collaborator INSTALL Warranty Contractor Mr. David’s Flooring International, LLC to specify and install a wide variety of material. The new flooring not only needs to help with wayfinding by depicting a whimsical parkway walking path, it also contributes textures, colors, and design elements that fulfill both outdoor experience and literary relevance.

Installation Challenges

Not only did the design and installation team need to convert a basement storage area into a fully functional business workspace they had to seamlessly integrate an intricate fantasy theme established in the building’s main interior and create an inviting and engaging space. The solution required complex integration of unique lighting, floor designs and surfaces, and interior design elements.

Because the basement space was never designed to be finished, the team had a significant amount of surface prep to complete before installation could begin.

“We tested extensively for moisture and did not find any major problems throughout the space,” explained Alicia Calabrese, Project Manager, Mr. David’s Flooring International, LLC. “However, the demolition crews left a significant amount of dust, debris, and marks in the subfloor which were a challenge to remove and rectify prior to installation,” she added.

Calabrese’s team used HEPA filter vacuums to remove all dust from the space, followed by products from Mapei and CHAPCO to smoot out the existing subfloor and eliminate any undulations and other imperfections from the existing concrete slab. “Since we were installing a significant amount of vinyl and carpet tile, both of which transfer imperfections, we also took HEPA sanders to the entire space to ensure a perfectly smooth subfloor,” explained Calabrese.

Once preparation was complete, Calabrese’s team took to the installation. Carpet tile was installed in corridors to mimic the look of checkerboard grass while a more elaborate pattern was selected for the main conference area. Broadloom was installed in the computer labs, while vinyl tile, sheet vinyl and resilient tile filled in the rest of the spaces. Altogether, 30,000 square feet of product from Tandus Centiva | Tarkett, Milliken, Mannington and Johnsonite were installed throughout the space.

This diverse mixture of materials and brands presented another challenge. With basement storage eliminated because of the product, facility managers had to find a way to store attic stock. There is an enormous variation in products across this building alone, not to mention the entire themed campus, but the client worked with Mr. David’s Flooring International, LLC to identify the most important combination of stock and find an alternative storage site.

Results

Through innovative planning and expert installation from INSTALL Warranty Contractor Mr. David’s Flooring International, LLC, the flooring facilitates a highly creative experience. Some employees use it as a meeting room and workspace, while others utilize it as a break room and lunch space.

“You don’t feel sad or depressed despite being in the basement,” added Calabrese. “The plant life and butterflies bring nature into the space and no matter what the Wisconsin weather is doing up above it is perpetual spring.”

 

Project Details

Project Location: Southern Wisconsin

Project Size: 30,000 Square Feet

Designer: IN-Teriors

Floorcovering Installer: Mr. David’s Flooring International, LLC

Project Manager: Alicia Calabrese

Completion Date: January 2019

Flooring Vendors: Chapco (H.B. Fuller), Mannington Resilient Floors, MAPEI, Milliken Commercial, Tandus Centiva, Tarkett | Johnsonite

July/Aug 2020 Digital Issue

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