A New Design Creates Cohesion Among a Dallas Company’s Staff

RealPage Dallas’ newly designed offices create cohesion and knit together a workforce of 2,000-strong

When leading property-management software company RealPage Dallas wanted to bring four Texas offices together under one roof, it tapped HGA San Francisco for the job. The result is an inspiring workplace, complete with neighborhoods that contain private workstations, open and closed collaboration spaces and several different types of focus rooms. The focal point of the new headquarters is an enormous helix stair, which leads to the vibrant work cafe. “The idea of bringing all of our employees together and creating one workplace culture with new amenities like the work café, fitness center and neighborhoods has created a cohesiveness that didn’t exist before,” according to Sandy Seaton, Vice President of Real Estate & Workplace Solutions at RealPage.

Who was the interior architect/designer?

HGA San Francisco

When was the project completed?  

2017

How much space (SF)?

400,000 square feet in the low-rise and 25,000 square feet in the Tower

Was this new or renovated space?

Renovated

There was only one place in the U.S. that could fabricate the size and bend radius of the steel for the helix stair. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

There was only one place in the U.S. that could fabricate the size and bend radius of the steel for the helix stair. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

SF per person? 

Approximately 190RSF/person

How many employees? What is average daily population? 

There are 2,000 employees, and right now they are a bit over 1,800.

What kind of meeting spaces are provided? 

Within each neighborhood are workstations and hubs. The hubs are made up of private offices that are adjacent to a coffee bar, as well as open, collaboration space and closed collaboration space. There are three postures of focus rooms in each of the hubs as well. Along the main circulation path is the shared open and enclosed collaboration space is a variety of postures, including lounge and seated, among others.

Coffee bars are only one of the favored amenities at RealPage Dallas. Image courtesy of Benny Chan

Coffee bars are only one of the favored amenities at RealPage Dallas. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

What other kind of support space or amenity spaces are provided? 

HGA’s design approach sought to humanize the large floor plate through “neighborhoods.” In response to the original campus, where employees were often siloed, the new headquarters is designed at the human level with the belief that places for eating and daily activities are just as important as meeting spaces. The first thing Pesci’s team did was knit together the company culture by creating important amenities, such as a farmers’ market-style cafeteria and coffee bar, gym, training and conference center, film and sound studio, and auditorium.

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

It’s located in Richardson on 75 between 635 and George Bush. It’s also right on the DART line. There is also a nature path, and RealPage encourages the employees to use it to walk, run and bike. In fact, it has even implemented a bike-share program so that employees can use a RealPage bike to exercise outdoors.

Was the C-suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?

Yes. According to Sandy Seaton, Vice President of Real Estate & Workplace Solutions: “The RealPage headquarters move needed to be very strategic. Working with HGA allowed us to bring in creativity, flexibility and nimbleness. The idea of bringing all of our employees together and creating one workplace culture with new amenities like the work café, fitness center and neighborhoods has created a cohesiveness that didn’t exist before.”

Staff can work in a number of different postures at RealPage. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

Staff can work in a number of different postures at RealPage. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used?

HGA spends a lot of time with the client upfront. We spent three days in interviews with a cross section of individuals from across every department within RealPage. We aimed to find out how they were working, how they would work in their ideal world, the existing and desired culture and what they wanted others to experience when they came to the new space. We interviewed every member of the C-suite individually, as well as attended a retreat with the C-suite to talk about the new space. HGA spent a week observing all of the existing spaces and casually speaking with employees as they were working. HGA also co-led a series of workshops with the staff at varying levels where culture, goals and aesthetics were discussed through team-building activities.

Were there any other kind of employee engagement activities?

There were many ways. Through the activities mentioned above as well as the initiatives, such as purge teams, the green team, the neighborhood teams, and more, allowed employees to get more involved with specific areas that they were interested in. Also, RealPage leveraged their marketing department to start an internal program called Love Being @ Work that would update the entire company at regular intervals about certain aspects of the relocation.

Were any change management initiatives employed?

Yes, this was a SIGNIFICANT change for RealPage, and HGA urged RealPage to consider change management even before site selection happened and they took that recommendation very seriously. Together we selected ARC to assist by employing some of their survey technology. The RealPage Real Estate team did the heavy lifting though by creating the Love Being @ Work campaign and relocation initiatives. In addition to those activities, RealPage listened carefully during our early programming and visioning and took HGA’s recommendation to implement amenities within their campus (fitness center, including group fitness classes, work café, coffee bars, Boost bar, Bike Program, etc.) and also built an entire workplace and facilities team to support these efforts.

The new design has created a new cohesiveness among the staff at RealPage. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

The new design has created a new cohesiveness among the staff at RealPage. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.

A major thing that we noticed was the cultural diversity and incorporated foot sinks into the wellness rooms. Our team took time to research different prayer customs and strategically located the sinks as well as left enough space, incorporated matt storage outside of the room (in case it was being used by another employee)  to make it easier for the population to follow their beliefs. Technically, our team did a bit of research to ensure that all requirements were met for a variety of different types of recording that take place throughout the space. Video Village, Webcast rooms and the Auditorium all have filming and voice recording, thus special consideration was given to acoustics, lighting, HVAC and controllability.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

Absolutely, this was a major focus for both the fitness program as well as the food program. Throughout the surveys, workshops and interviews we learned that health and wellness was important to the employees. In addition to the amenities HGA strove to make sure all workstations have access to natural light and that many focus and collaboration areas were located adjacent to exterior windows. The goal behind the helix stair was to create a monumental circulation path in the building that would draw people to it. RealPage employees get exercise by taking the stairs rather than the elevator without even noticing it.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

Yes, the size and bend radius of the steel for the helix stair could only be fabricated in one place in the country. Also, to get a lot of the triple height open space with suspended conference rooms, we needed to install a lot of steel in an existing building. We also needed to change out light fixtures that were 40-50 feet in the air to accommodate energy codes. However, we could not get traditional equipment into the building and ended up using spider cranes that would fold up to get through a door way and would unfurl into a huge piece of machinery.

The helix staircase is a focal point of the new offices. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

The helix staircase is a focal point of the new offices. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

What were the major furniture products used?

Furniture Vendors: Two Furnish, BKM, BI

Systems Furniture: Steelcase

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

HGA provided a full-service suite of services, including architecture, interior design, MEP/Structural, lighting and environmental graphics. HGA oversaw wayfinding and signage throughout the interior environment. The environmental graphics strategy was not focused around making the brand larger than life, but rather invoking the subtle natures of the brand and culture and quietly inserting it throughout the space into the wayfinding, materials, finishes and film.

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?

Wellness rooms feature a variety of postures to accommodate a variety of uses. Desks are height adjustable. The work café provides healthy options and uses signage to educate employees on healthy choices. The fitness center.

What kind of technology products were used?

RealPage worked with their own internal AV team and FordAV to create a custom AV program that has varying levels of connectivity and collaboration throughout the space. The goal was to connect them with each other as well as in the other, global, workplaces throughout their portfolio in a seamless way. There was a significant effort to identify the level of connectivity, display and collaboration required at each space throughout the project.

RealPage cares about the wellbeing of its employees, and that's reflected throughout its new Dallas offices. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

RealPage cares about the wellbeing of its employees, a fact that’s reflected throughout its new Dallas offices. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

If the company relocated to new space, what was the most difficult aspect of the change for the employees?

In response to the original campus, where employees were often siloed, the new headquarters is designed at the human level with the belief that places for eating and daily activities are just as important as meeting spaces.

If change management program was in place, what were the most successful strategies?

I think encouraging RealPage to select and implement their move initiatives was really impactful. I also think the Love Being @ Work campaign gave all the employees a window into every step of the process and encouraged their engagement along the way.

The Love Being @ Work Campaign was integral to the successfully engaging with RealPage employees during the design process. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

The Love Being @ Work Campaign helped employees to engage with the design of their new offices. Image courtesy of Benny Chan Photography.

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