2018 Merit Award
Oak Brook, IL
Chamberlain Group’s new corporate headquarters in Oak Brook consolidates employees from multiple facilities to one verdant, park-like setting. This new, single campus brings together the dynamic talent of the company’s different teams and encourages innovation supported by technology, training and work environment, and sustainable practices. The new 223,000 gsf facility features state-of-the-art engineering and testing laboratories as well as conference and training centers for customized employee and vendor education, a product showroom, a 200-seat cafe, and a fitness center.
Previously, the 20-acre site featured a 1970’s corporate office building and a landscape of utility: expansive asphalt parking lots, mowed lawns, and scattered, neglected ornamental plantings. The new owners were attracted by a grove of mature oaks at the north side of the site, trees of striking sculptural form but mostly buried in dense thickets of buckthorn and other invasive species. SmithGroup’s landscape design transformed the site into an adaptive and flexible campus that supports the Chamberlain Group’s strategic relocation and growth plans by creating a space that promotes collaboration and strengthens the company’s values and culture.
The site design was developed with a focus on employee health and wellness and includes a shaded lakeside dining terrace, wildflower gardens, and a looped trail network that connects to the building at multiple points and levels. The trails link the company’s 600+ employees with outside amenities designed for a full spectrum of uses, active to passive, and gathering spaces sized for a range of employee, family and corporate gatherings.
Visitors to the headquarters move through a series of treed berms, moving along a rolling allee of maples to the building’s entrance. This formal sequence is the exception on the site, which is otherwise covered with native grasses, restoring an oak savanna ecosystem extensively throughout the site. Ecology and stormwater management become an experiential amenity for employees, who can take breaks or meetings amidst the abundant butterflies, crickets, and songbirds that inhabit the grasslands. Generously sized bioswale medians permeate parking areas, cleaning and slowing storm runoff while also helping to minimize the visual impact of the large parking lots.
Together, the building and landscape have led to a marked increase in recruitment and retention for Chamberlain Group. The trails and amenity areas are intensely used, and employee groups have emerged to organize a series of 5K runs which have included over 200 employees and have raised thousands of dollars for local charities.
A truly interdisciplinary effort, SmithGroup provided a full range of services for the project, including landscape architecture, civil engineering, ecological planning, architecture and interior design.