Hillshire Brands is a self-described “meat-centric” food solutions company for the retail and food service markets. In 2012 the company relocated from the suburbs to its current location in Chicago’s West Loop. The building was thoroughly renovated to accommodate Hillshire’s operations and employees, and more specifically to promote a dynamic culture of communication, chance encounter, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
As part of the renovation, Hillshire committed to providing attractive, inviting outdoor spaces where employees could enjoy their lunch break, participate in special events, hold meetings in a non-traditional setting, or simply decompress. A new roof terrace was created to provide an outdoor amenity, reinforce the company’s developing corporate culture, and assist in the recruitment of new employees and retention of existing employees.
The terrace includes an outdoor demonstration kitchen with a communal harvest-type table and other seating. Lounge areas are located on the perimeter, in order to enjoy outstanding views of the surrounding Chicago skyline. Meeting areas have overhead shade structures and conference tables suitable for meetings or more informal uses. Paving throughout is lightweight ipe wood decking that has a warm, informal feeling. Pathways allow spaces to flow together, facilitate circulation, and encourage chance encounters between employees who are otherwise separated by space planning or corporate organization.
The relocation of Hillshire Brands from the suburbs to downtown is significant because of what it says about the vitality, culture, and attractions of urban locations. Historically corporations have moved from downtown to the suburbs; recently the direction has been reversed, as employers seek a younger demographic to energize the company, and also seek the benefits of operating and working in close proximity with other professionals and specialists in a wide range of businesses. With the realization in some industries that quality and committed employees are attracted to an urban lifestyle, location, and amenities, and to both working and living in or near the downtown core, corporations have begun to align themselves with those goals and provide a package of on-site amenities. The Hillshire Brands roof terrace is a manifestation of that change in culture.
Project Team: Clune Construction Company; Intrinsic Landscaping, Inc.; Landtech, Inc.; Lindsay & Associates, Inc.; Perkins + Will