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JE Dunn’s redesigned offices showcase the company’s true colors

JE Dunn’s redesigned offices showcase the company’s true colors

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The office slide in JE Dunn’s new Atlanta headquarters.

You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, a popular idiom asserts. So JE Dunn Construction didn’t try to. In converting three of its East Region offices into workplaces of the future, the company assessed its space needs, growth plans, internal functions, and, most importantly, the evolving work styles of its employees and embarked on a bold redesign. The results: a drastic departure from the traditional walled-in work environment in favor of workspaces more versatile, vital and high-performing. 
“The new offices much more accurately articulate how we work, the personality of our company and the direction JE Dunn is heading,” says East Region President Dan Kaufman, whose vision inspired the makeovers.
For JE Dunn offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, step one of the transformation involved relocating to other areas of their cities.
The Savannah office moved into a 92-year-old building in the Savannah Historic District. Charlotte claimed a spot in the city’s trendy Historic South End, among renovated factories and an eclectic mix of commercial and residential neighbors. Atlanta vacated conventional suburban offices to purchase and repurpose a two-story building in an emerging neighborhood that is home to the Atlanta Braves’ new baseball stadium.
The new reception area in Savannah, Ga.

Walking the talk
Packing up and moving was challenging. The bigger change, however, was Dan Kaufman’s vision of workplaces designed around open-office floor plans.
Some employees were immediately onboard. Others were less enthusiastic. Clearly, however, the shift was in line with the company’s culture of continuous improvement. Also clear: business as usual was not an option.
“We knew we needed strong employee engagement in re-designing the new spaces and we wanted everyone to have a voice,” Kaufman says. “We gave considerable thought to how to make it work.”
The transition process welcomed employee misgivings and doubts about the plan’s practicality. All three offices brought in outside architects, designers and other consultants to channel discussions toward results employees would feel good about.
In Charlotte, “Making the shift from a more traditional office to an open office was a huge mental hurdle,” says Paul Fenzl – Charlotte Division Manager. “But the project was a true team effort from day one. We assembled a diverse group of employees to represent our team, ensuring varying personalities were represented.”
The Charlotte office area.

Ideas at work
Controlling noise, providing privacy, accommodating technology, fostering employee engagement, promoting employee health and wellbeing— all were part of planning the rebuilds.
“This was a strategic, long-term investment in our people, our culture and our productivity,” Fenzl says.
JE Dunn self-performed much of the work to create climates that are minimalist yet warm, colorful, bright and flexible. Features include floor to ceiling windows, movable walls, wood and metal panels and exposed structural steel, concrete and brick. The Savannah office poured concrete to make customized restroom vanities and a conference room table. Atlanta workers refashioned a discarded concrete bridge into a reception desk.
The sprawling office spaces are subdivided into work-group “neighborhoods.” Neighborhoods comprise individual workstations featuring height-adjustable desks that allow employees to sit or stand while working, as well as technology enhanced collaboration areas. In Atlanta, a huge “pull plan” wall accommodates a project-scheduling process that assembles teams of trade partners.
Soundproof breakout rooms of various sizes offer privacy for conferences and phone calls. Nooks and crannies throughout the buildings are planned solitary work spots. Conspicuously absent: executive offices. Seating is randomly assigned— though Atlanta designates rooms for HR and legal.
From interactive white boards and enhanced video conferencing to room occupancy sensors, electric car charging stations and rooftop solar panels, the facilities are loaded with features that save time, money, resources and the environment.
Building sustainability
JE Dunn also built fun into the equation. Amusement and relaxation zones invite employees to lounge while sharing a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a locally brewed beer. Shuffle board, pool, a putting green, ping pong, arcade-style video games and a workout room are offerings that encourage employees to lighten up and have fun as a team.
The Atlanta building gives employees the option of descending a flight of stairs from the second floor to the first, or whisking down a custom-designed, German-built stainless steel slide.
Re-designed as spaces where work, socializing and active living converge, the three offices definitely have Millennials in mind. “Well over half of our employees are runners, bike riders, cross-fitness buffs who work better when they are given time to play at the office,” says executive VP Mike Bartlett. “We respect their values and aspirations.”
The company also factored in growth. Modifications to the Atlanta building, for example, will accommodate future vertical expansion. Better suited than ever to host training sessions, receptions, and community events, the offices are veritable showcases.
Says Ryan Price, Division Manager in Savannah, “Our goal was to build high-performing, highly visible offices whose values of sustainability, community engagement and intelligent workplaces would promote JE Dunn’s legacy of building excellence.”


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