Kalamazoo, Michigan


Developed to appeal to a creative labor pool, the year-old Newell Rubbermaid Design Center lies within southwest Michigan's hub of industrial design, just a stone's throw from internationally acclaimed manufacturers Haworth, Herman Miller, and Steelcase.

When the Atlanta-based company set out to consolidate the product designers for all of its brands'which include such household names as Rubbermaid, Calphalon, Levolor, Sharpie, and Graco'it targeted this locale and joined forces with the state of Michigan, the city of Kalamazoo, Southwest Michigan First, and Western Michigan University (WMU). The new purpose-built facility is situated at WMU's Business Technology Research Park in Kalamazoo, adjacent to the university's department of engineering and applied science (a potential feeder for talented interns and employees).

Now Newell Rubbermaid's 100 or so designers collaborate across all brands in a luminous state-of-the-art building designed by the branding and interior design groups at Perkins+Will in conjunction with architect of record Byce & Associates. Tailored to foster innovation, the design center's pristine interior'complete with prototyping shops, graphics studios, and a 'usability lab' for focus groups'has a flexible plan that revolves around a central 12-foot-wide circulation lane (or 'main street') and balances an abundance of daylight with a pleasing electric lighting scheme.

Time and budget were tight, so the architects modified a 40,000-square-foot prefabricated metal structure to accommodate the corporate program. They wrapped the facade with curtain walls punctuated by 14-foot-wide-by-12- or 15-foot-high windows. Shielded by external shades on the south elevation and etched along the bottom for privacy and to reduce glare, this generous fenestration allows plenty of daylight to penetrate deep into the building's interior. A line of eight prismatic skylights along its east'west spine further illuminates the core, filtered by a dropped wood-trellis ceiling that defines the Center's main artery.

Aiming to create an even wash of light, the design team suspended orderly rows of boxed, linear T5 pendants at a height of 15 feet, inserting them into the wood-slat structure above the 'main street.' Controlled by daylight sensors around the perimeter, these slender luminaires provide a cool ambient light throughout the open workstations and common spaces on the north, and along a segregated collaborative-work area on the south wall.

Several enclosed rooms built within the space share this light, thanks to internal glazing. For example, small huddle rooms situated among the workstations have glass walls on two sides, and six immersion rooms'where project teams work on proprietary projects'receive sunlight captured through 12- to 15-foot-high clerestories across from the building's south-facing windows.

'We wanted to have the lighting be as general as possible,' says David Sheehan, Perkins+Will senior interior designer, who fitted out the office with new and reused 20th-century furniture made by the Center's notable neighbors. In keeping with the modern decor and creative vibe, the interior designers also placed robust circular pendants over tall worktables and in meeting rooms as accents. This way, Shehan explains, 'Lighting is used as a design element in the space as well as to provide light.'


Client: Newell Rubbermaid

Owner: Southwest Michigan First

Project designer’s firm name, address, phone, and fax number:
Perkins+Will (Chicago and Atlanta offices)
330 N. Wabash Ave. Suite 3600
Chicago, IL 60611
T: 312-755-0770
F: 312-755-0775

1315 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
T: 404-873-2300
F: 404-892-5823

Personnel in project designer’s firm who should receive special credit:
Eva Maddox, David Sheehan, Kimberly Richter, Ellen Anderson, Stephen Mai, Ryan Dagley, Cary Lancaster, Kim Rousseau

Architect of record:
Byce & Associates, Inc.
487 Portage Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
T: 269-381-6170
F: 269-381-6176

Principal in Change: Michael Flynn, AIA (Registered Architect)

Project Manager / Project Architect: Fred Grunert, AIA, GGP (Registered Architect)

Branded Environments: Perkins+Will (CHI Branded Environments)

Branded Environments/Exhibit Contractor:
Xibitz, Inc.
5809 Cross Roads Parkway SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49519

Interior designer/architect: Perkins+Will (ATL)

Byce & Associates, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Adam Poznanski, PE
Electrical Engineer: Brian Harte, PE
Structural & Civil Engineer: Bryan Webster, PE

Landscape: O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock, & Associates, Inc. (OCBA)

Lighting: Byce & Associates, Inc.

Commissioning Agent:  Byce & Associates, Inc.
Green Globes Coordinator:  Byce & Associates, Inc., Fred Grunert, AIA, GGP

General contractor: AVB, Inc. (Portage, MI)

Steve Hall and Tom Harris
Hedrich Blessing Photographers
(312) 491-1101

Size: 40,000 square feet

Cost: withheld

Completion date: May 2014



Interior finishes
Resilient flooring: Armstrong (linoleum)

Carpet: Milliken (“Juxtapose”)

Chairs: Interstuhl (presenter chair); Herman Miller (newsroom workstations)

Interior ambient lighting: Studio Hamburg Aterlierbetriebs (custom “light bands” in newsroom)

Downlights: Studio Hamburg Aterlierbetriebs (custom “light bands” in newsroom)

Task lighting: Studio Hamburg Aterlierbetriebs (custom “light bands” in newsroom)

Dimming System or other lighting controls: DMX

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Video Wall Solution: eyevis, Grossbildtechnik

LED Solution:  Schnick-Schnack-Systems