United Way of Southeastern Michigan


Headquarters Relocation

Detroit, Michigan

47,000 GSF, 4360 M2

Architecture, Engineering, Interior Architecture, Lighting Design, Programming

Sustainable Programs
LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI) (LEED-CI)-Silver

Honor Award -- Interiors, Best Use of Architectural Materials, Corporate Over 10,000 sf, Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)

View All Awards

“The space accelerates our work and is fundamental to the future of our organization.”

—Michael Brennan, President and CEO, UWSEM


Wishing to get back to its roots, United Way for Southeastern Michigan seized a relocation opportunity as occasion to strengthen its commitment to bettering downtown Detroit. SmithGroupJJR responded to United Way's vision with a plan to move the headquarters into the historic First National Building, adapting the 1930s environment into a fresh workplace for its employees.

With evolving work styles and increased activity outside of the office, UWSEM was ready for a program that de-emphasized the use of permanently assigned workstations. The planning approach incorporates a “free-address” concept, reducing the number of assigned workstations and allowing staffers to choose where to work. Traditional workspaces were reduced in size by as much as 30-percent while an array of interactive work environments facilitate collaboration, informal meetings and team-based work activities. Not only did these approaches impact the non-profit’s workplace culture, these strategies consolidated their space by more than half—adding to operational savings of $300,000 a year.

Now complete, the headquarters—containing zero enclosed offices—establishes a new model for corporate headquarters, one that the client greatly praises.

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