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.
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.