American Greetings Gets a Space That’s as Creative as its People

There’s room to be creative at American Greetings’ new headquarters.

In designing American Greetings’ new creative studios and headquarters, CallisonRTKL created a range of environments called “neighborhoods” to suit an array of work styles and a spectrum of employee needs — whether one-on-one meetings or large group gatherings. There’s also designated quiet spaces to facilitate heads-down time. “The Creative Studios offer choice to workers and allows them to modify their environments to fit their needs,” according to CallisonRTKL. “It’s a creative laboratory that inspires innovation, collaboration and community while respecting individuality.”


What is the address of the project?

One American Boulevard; Westlake, OH 44145

Who was the building architect and the interior architect/designer?

 CallisonRTKL

When was the project completed?

August, 2016

What is the total square footage?

660,000 GSF (including retail)

What is the square footage per person?

375 GSF / person (excluding retail)

"Move ambassadors" helped employees successfully make the move to the new headquarters. Image courtesy of American Greetings.

“Move ambassadors” helped staff successfully transition to the new headquarters. Image courtesy of © CallisonRTKL Inc.

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

Approximately 1,600

What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

Located in Crocker Park, a lifestyle center and mixed-use development in Westlake, Ohio, American Greetings is centrally located to provide employees access to retail, restaurant and residential offerings. Free parking and highway proximity make the Crocker Park area easily accessible while still allowing the space to be primarily pedestrian-driven. Numerous bus lines also serve the area.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? Please touch upon any notable products, how they were used, and if they solved a specific problem.

Steelcase Answer is the primary systems furniture product with Elective Elements and Universal Storage provided by Ohio Desk. Additional products of note include Vitra Alcove lounge sofaHaworth Tulip chair, and Moroso USA Paper Planes lounge chair.

American Greetings brand is carried through the design of its new worldwide headquarters.

American Greetings’ brand is carried through the design of its new worldwide headquarters. Image by © 2016 Paul Warchol, courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy or are most of the employees there all day every day?

Due to the highly collaborative nature of AG’s creative work force, most people work in the office full-time.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

Approximately eight percent of seats are unassigned “touchdown” seats.

American Greetings Creative Studios features a variety of "neighborhoods" with various workspaces. Image courtesy of American Greetings.

American Greetings Creative Studios features a variety of “neighborhoods” with various workspaces. Image by © 2016 Paul Warchol, courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

Designed specifically with their culture in mind, the headquarters combines history, imagery, and creative spaces to express AG’s mission throughout the building. AG Associates were engaged to design a series of custom wall graphics, displays, and way-finding signage. Their artistic roots and product innovations are on full display beginning with the public art exhibition space, Gallery W, that also serves as the main entry lobby. Proceeding to the second-floor reception area, a three-dimensional “Mission, Vision, Values” wall mural welcomes visitors and employees to the Creative Studios. On the fifth level, a 42-foot photo timeline and artifact gallery illustrate the development of AG throughout the years. Through a dynamic graphic narrative, guests learn what American Greetings is all about, as a company and a community.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

The new headquarters is configured around an elevated outdoor courtyard that provides an opportunity for associates to collaborate in unique and inspiring settings. It serves as the “heart” of the building — a collegial space with sidewalks that are covered and heated, a fire pit, beautiful landscaping and spaces for dining and casual meetings — accommodating work and play.

Located on the third floor of the building, next to the “Main Street,” retail space, a café and Starbucks, the courtyard encourages a sense of community by inviting those who work both above and below to mingle, intermix, and spend time outside.

If the company moved out of a previous space, what was the hardest aspect of change for people?

Overall, the move has been quite seamless with strong enthusiasm across the board. The move itself was well planned with dedicated “move ambassadors” tasked with coordinating the process and socializing the functional aspects of the new Creative Studios. With many occupants having come from environments with limited access to daylight, the increased amount of natural light has been an adjustment.

The elevated outdoor courtyard serves the heart of the headquarters. Image courtesy of American Greetings.

The elevated outdoor courtyard serves the heart of the headquarters. Image courtesy of © CallisonRTKL Inc.

Please talk about any other notable aspects of the project that make it unique.

A series of ‘neighborhoods’ offer a diversity of space types that enable employees to choose a work setting that best suits the task at hand — one-on-one meetings, larger group gatherings, and town halls as well as noisier work sessions or quiet, heads-down functions. Within each neighborhood is a lounge, known as a park. These heavily used spaces serve as vibrant, community-building hubs that feature natural light, bold colors, unique graphics and furnishings, and views of the courtyard. But the new headquarters also focuses on balance, an inordinately important characteristic of an office, and one that is often overlooked. A mix of public and private, active and contemplative, personal and collective, the Creative Studios offers choices to workers and allows them to modify their environments to fit their needs. It’s a creative laboratory that inspires innovation, collaboration, and community while respecting individualism.

American Greetings used a variety of furniture brands in its new offices, including Haworth, Vitra and Moroso USA, among others. Image courtesy of American Greetings.

American Greetings used a variety of furniture brands in its new offices, including Haworth, Vitra and Moroso USA, among others. Image by © 2016 Paul Warchol, courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

What else?

In support of AG’s creative process, and contrary to current trends, AG has provided a 1:1 seat ratio, using “traditional” panel based furniture to minimize distraction while doing heads-down work. A constant panel height provides “seated privacy,” as well as opportunities for visual display of works in progress while also maintaining views to daylight.

Anything more?

The Creative Studios features two galleries: Gallery W and the Irving Stone Gallery. The galleries showcase different artists, as well as the personal work of its employees. In addition to these more formal spaces, AG engaged their associates in the creation of all the decorative and way-finding graphics in the building. Internal design competitions were orchestrated for the creation of graphic wall murals and mixed media installations. Each of the four egress stairwells feature unique wall graphics that vary in theme and character, while incorporating the American Greetings rose logo in some manner. Similarly, each of the lounges, toilet rooms, and “landmarks” — or focal points denoting elevator landings or ends of corridors feature creations by AG’s associates. This process engaged the entire work force, reinforcing AG’s brand and culture throughout.

American Greetings' brand and work culture is reflected throughout its new headquarters. Image courtesy of American Greetings.

American Greetings’ brand and work culture is reflected throughout its new headquarters. Image by © 2016 Paul Warchol, courtesy of CallisonRTKL.

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