John Beeder engaged audience with “Less me More we” motto at October SPDC Industry Seminar Series

The MSU School of Planning, Design, and Construction held its 14th Industry Seminar Series on Oct. 16, 2019, in East Lansing. The featured speaker, John Beeder, was the former president and CEO of American Greetings.

Certificate presented to speaker.

The MSU School of Planning, Design, and Construction held its 14th Industry Seminar Series on Oct. 16, 2019, in East Lansing. The featured speaker, John Beeder, is the former president and CEO of American Greetings 

With a newly relocated headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, Beeder spoke about the process of designing, building and relocating the company is his seminar called “Accelerating Company Strategy in a Dynamic Built Environment.” 

Beeder’s presentation focused on the relocation of the headquarters of the creative greeting card company, American Greetings.  

This $93.5M project centered around creating a corporate headquarters that maintained the heart of the company creativity throughout the building. He began by recognizing the privilege the company had to design a completely new building that tailored to what they desired.  

In order to harness and show case the company’s creative energy, Beeder outlined that the building need to:  

  • Encourage collaboration and flexible approaches to product development,  
  • Include common areas that were shared and well-distributed,  
  • Contain standardized workspace units,  
  • Have department-adjacent workspaces based on work relations,  
  • Maximize on utilization and access to natural lighting and views, and  
  • Balance “me” and “we” spaces 

Beeder mentioned that they decided to maximize the use of stairs within the design. 

“We used stairs in place of escalators, because most of our workforce is young and they said they won’t get enough exercise,said Beeder. “We copied the college campus-style staircase because we wanted people to meet even on the stairs. 

The new headquarters includes five floors with lots of stairways for easy access to other departments. Because creativity is the heart of the business, each floor contains a different creative department.  

The 3rd floor, also known as “main street,” is the central meeting spot of the office. This space has large open areas that encourage openness, complimented by the natural lighting from large windows and artwork on the walls.  

Featured on the ground floor is space for retail opportunities, a cafeteria, access to the courtyard, and of course a Starbucks.  

“Every facility of American Greetings has a Starbucks. You know why? A caffeinated workforce is a productive workforce, said Beeder. 

The retail opportunities on the ground floor connects the business to an urban landscape, which allows people and activity come to the companies’ doorstep. American Greetings takes full advantage of this foot traffic by displaying public art galleries, featuring work from the creatives to allow their work to be admired.  

The process of designing, building and eventually making the move required patience. Beeder worked with Callison RTKL Architects  over four years to complete the building design.  

He said he drew inspiration from some of the most creative companies in the country Pixar, Apple, Abercrombie and Ogilvy to create the perfect space that worked for American Greetings.  

Of course, moving office locations also required a lot of patience and planning. To make the transition more smooth, Beeder developed a communication plan in order to get the company ready for the change 

To get the employees excited for the move, Beeder said the plan first celebrated the project’s milestones. It also educated and informed them about how this change of venue was going to benefit not only the company, but also the individual worker, with the last part helping to prepare them for the move.  

American Greetings new headquarters was completed in 2016. Since then, the company and its employees have continued to be even more successful now that the company’s office matches its mission.  

Each space of the building was carefully designed for collaborative work featuring possible meeting spots for any instance, at any time.  

Beeder said the hallmark of this project was the focus on “less me and more we” during the design process. “It’s what truly made the headquarters design a success,” he said 

Learn more about American Greetings. 

Learn more about these events at SPDC Industry Seminar Series. 

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