Bullish on Brand
HOK creates a high-energy, richly textured corporate environment for financial client TD Ameritrade. Learn more about this and other Branded Environments projects at Design+Connections at ISA Sign Expo April 24 in Orlando!
TD Ameritrade’s new 11-story headquarters complex consolidates more than 2,000 corporate, technology, and operations employees, located in five offices around Omaha, into one of the country’s largest LEED-Platinum buildings.
Considerable visual expectations surrounded this project. With a new set of brand guidelines recently introduced, HOK set out to create a memorable environment that would celebrate the company’s conventional finance/corporate world successes into a forward-thinking, visually enhanced strategy.
The HOK team, led by Hal Kantner, focused on designing a high-energy and enjoyable themed workplace. Geographic context, financial backstory, and the company’s history inspire the majority of the graphic displays. A celebration of the green building achievement is also manifested in the space.
The result is a modern take on the financial workplace, with an emphasis on maintaining employee morale. “We believe quite strongly that to have customers feel good about you, you have to have the associates feel good about you, too, and the work environment is part of that,” says Fred Tomczyk, President and CEO of the company.
Inside, the company’s story begins to unfold immediately. In the lobby, visitors are greeted with a two-story graphic sculpture designed to portray the client's values of empowerment and straightforwardness. To create a timeless statement piece, the HOK team avoided the use of imagery and technology, instead opting to use layers of dimensional charts and graphs — a universal language in the finance and investment world. Simple in both design and implementation, the dimensional elements are raised and recessed at various depths against the wall. The first layer consists of a solid panelized matrix that represents a heat map (visual data used to gain a quick overview of market performance). The second layer includes building-blocks elements. They represent more detailed data within a market, such as components in a financial strategy. Together, the two layers construct a solid portfolio of data visualization.
Engraved art of financial instruments and the client’s brand elements inspired the team to create distinctive graphic patterns on corridor walls and surrounding elevators. The wall graphics are complemented by visual contents of recent campaign, corporate communications, and news, as well as displays reinforcing Ameritrade’s mission and core values.
Color-coded guilloche art is used as wayfinding thematic elements in the elevator banks on all floors, reflective of context and the client’s competencies.
To celebrate the company’s LEED Platinum achievement for the building, “Growing Green” sustainability displays appear throughout the building in colorful cubes, informing and educating visitors about the building’s sustainability features.
The HOK team used dynamic graphics and bold colors to create a high-energy environment in the company fitness center. In addition to wall graphics, a grid of shadow boxes displays baseball caps from the company’s sport and community involvement event. In the “Break Point” game room, HOK amped up the fun with interactive wallpaper that incorporates magnetic chess and tic-tac-toe and integrates table tennis paddles as part of the graphics.
Using a collection of iPads arranged in timeline fashion, the team created a Digital History Wall that invites passersby to download through a timeline of the company’s history. The iPads’ high resolution and size deliver a close-up, personal experience.
On a classroom window, HOK recreated the classic tale of Wall Street with a supergraphic of the proverbial bear and bull. (The terms "bear" and "bull" are thought to derive from the way in which each animal attacks its opponents: a bull will thrust its horns up into the air, while a bear will swipe down. These actions were then related metaphorically to the movement of a market.) Over time, employees passing the classroom will discover that sprinkles of colored pixels within the supergraphics represent the astrological constellation of Taurus and Great Bear.
And co-opting the original counting tool used in antiquity, HOK created a supersized abacus sculpture featuring acrylic balls in the company’s brand tone green. The nine-foot tall sculpture appears at the entrance to the campus coffee bar and injects an element of wit and charm into the environment.
The branding extends to even the company cafeteria—strategically named the Options Market—where colorful, appetizing graphic ribbons flow across the space and dimensional icons identify serving stations.
Design Team: Hal Kantner, Melissa Schmitz, Christina Hui, Adry Suryadi, Alan Ng, Jay Dacon
Fabrication: Xibitz Inc. and Renze Display
AV Partners: Sextant Group, AVI Systems, Activate the Space
Photos: Jay Dacon, Adry Suryadi