Case Study American Water

American Water is the largest investor-owned water and wastewater utility company in the US, providing safe, clean, reliable water services to 14 million customers.

Experts in water quality, testing, compliance, and treatment, they develop and implement innovative solutions for communities throughout the United States. Committed to excellence in everything they do, American Water keeps their customers’ lives flowing, engaging with community partners and empowering their employees to make a difference in the communities where they live and work.


Camden, New Jersey

Project Specs

Building Stories: 5

Building Size: 220,000 sq. ft.

Occupants: 700+

Design Firm


Dealer Partner

Bellia Office Furniture

Build a Place with Space for All

With American Water’s previous headquarters operations spread throughout four locations, keeping things flowing within the company was becoming increasingly difficult as they grew. There were gaps in communication, and collaboration felt like a chore when people were separated by a 10 to 15-minute drive. Teamwork and engagement were suffering, and their office environment simply wasn’t enticing to potential employees. American Water needed to start fresh, with a new, modern facility in a metropolitan location that would bring their people together, attract the best new talent in the area, and support community—inside and out.

"The workforce is changing. Their needs are changing, and they want to have access to public transportation. They want to be in areas where they can work, play, and stay and we weren't seeing that as much in the suburbs as we are here in Camden." – YIMI KIERMAN SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER, AMERICAN WATER

Location. Location. Location.

After careful consideration, American Water’s leaders chose to build their new headquarters along the Delaware riverfront in Camden, New Jersey. With easy access from Philadelphia and surrounding areas via numerous modes of transportation, the city offers a convenient location for the modern hub of collaboration and innovation that American Water desired. The expansive new building now houses all headquarters employees under one roof and attracts new members of the workforce to their growing business.

The Camden location also affords the perfect opportunity for American Water to build on their partnership with a city they service, help revitalize the area, and bring a renewed sense of pride to the community. With those goals as guideposts, the company created a landmark for the city that not only serves as an attractive workplace destination, but also draws local residents to their campus. A large, relaxing public park provides a beautiful, new outdoor venue for community events, picnics, and even 4th of July fireworks.

A Waterborne Design

American Water wanted everyone who enters its doors to immediately understand their heritage in water. Working with the developer and project team, they created and defined the building’s design to support their brand. Nearly everything relates to water—from the waterfront location and sweeping views of the Delaware River, to two magnificent atrium waterfalls and a flowing five-story staircase that spans the windows along the river. Interiors have furnishings that showcase a connection to water, as well. Neutral tones were chosen to keep everything looking clean and pure, while pops of blues and greens bring life to the spaces with the colors of water and nature.

A favorite spot among employees is the “Lantern,” a large, open social space, featuring a variety of settings for gathering, collaborating, and connecting with one another. Located on the top floor, the Lantern offers panoramic views of the Delaware river and Philadelphia skyline, while the interior is artfully embellished with suspended glass water molecule sculptures. Visitors to American Water often tour the new Innovation Center space, which showcases the company’s 130+ years of history in water innovation and service to their customers and community. A single-drop waterfall in the center symbolizes how each small effort contributes to the larger outcome.

Feedback Flows Freely

Maintaining communication throughout the building project, American Water not only mitigated employees’ negative change responses, but actually generated excitement for the new office. Prior to groundbreaking, employees toured the site and were treated to a picnic in the campus park to help ease any uncertainties people had about the HQ moving to the area. Later, employees were invited to see construction in progress, evaluate and vote on workstation options, and provide input on interior design.

Through surveys and dialogue, American Water employees were asked to give feedback on the types of amenities they desired. As a result, the company added a cafeteria with healthy food options and places for people to gather, as well as a fitness center with the latest equipment, locker rooms with showers, and a bike storage room.

Supportive Workspaces

In terms of the working environment, American Water employees communicated that they craved openness, ease of collaboration, and more non-traditional workspaces. To offer flexibility and variety in settings that support the ways people choose to work, recharge, and network, American Water added comfortable social spaces throughout the building. Two wi-fi enabled terraces with lounge furnishings were also added, providing open-air workspaces and gathering spots. And of course, everyone is welcome to enjoy the on-campus riverfront park, where people can hold walking meetings, gather for lunch conversations, or just relax and recharge.

While communication and collaboration were big drivers in the design of American Water’s new office, employees also needed workspaces to accomplish focused and semi-focused tasks. Based on an overwhelming number of requests, every individual workstation in the new building features a height-adjustable desk that allows people to stay moving by changing postures throughout the day. Low panels provide a level of privacy, while allowing the community inclusion employees desired. The minimal height of the panels also offers everyone access to abundant natural light and incredible views to support well-being and inspire creativity.


Ready for Tomorrow

American Water is now primed for recruiting top talent. They’ve not only built a modern facility with terrific amenities, but also a social community that merges work, well-being, and personal interests—an important driver in attracting members of today’s workforce. The company empowers employees to build relationships with the local community through various outreach activities, including a mentorship program that shares knowledge with Camden students about careers they could one day have in the water industry—and more specifically, at American Water.

With their new headquarters campus at the center, American Water has created a cycle of support for their business, brand, culture, and well-being. Employees are drawn to the community-focused culture, and that culture will be preserved and carried on by those same people today, tomorrow, and well into the future.