From Detroit Free Press
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, MI — A corporate headquarters is often chilly, remote and austere. Visteon Corp.’s new home is more like a friendly village square, and that’s by design.
Visteon Village, as the auto-parts supplier calls its new corporate center in Van Buren Township,Mich., is modeled after a small town, with human-scale buildings that cluster together, and an array of attractions from shops to a waterfront promenade to make life more pleasant for employees.
Under construction for a couple of years, Visteon Village welcomed its first employees Friday and eventually is to become home to 3,200 corporate, engineering and other staffers. It thus becomes the company’s new main address, transferring from locations in Dearborn.
“Visteon Village enhances our emphasis on our customers, creates a sense of unity among our employees and helps us share best practices,” said Mike Johnston, Visteon president and CEO.
The village includes nine buildings totaling 800,000-square-feet and is set on a scenic 265-acre site that includes a 37-acre lake. Amenities include boardwalks and a nature trail for use by employees and the community. Estimates put the cost of the new campus at about $250 million.
“When we set out to design Visteon Village, one of the keys for us was to create a smart facility, both in terms of cost efficiency and in the way that we work,” said Stacy Fox, Visteon senior vice president of corporate transactions and legal affairs.
“Visteon Village embodies the culture we’re striving to foster, one of openness, innovation and collaboration that inspires our employees to develop great products for our customers.”
The sixth-largest Michigan-based company worked closely with architects to achieve the look it wanted, deliberately moving away from a typical glass-tower headquarters.
“We were excited by the challenge of creating the village,” says David King, the lead architect of Visteon Village and chairman of Detroit-based SmithGroup. “The design combines the community feel of a Michigan small town with the functionality of a global, world-class organization.”
To capture the small-town feel, building exteriors feature pitched roofs with chimneys and dormers and are a mixture of stone, brick and glass. Visteon produced most of the glass at its own glass plants in Nashville, Tenn., and Tulsa, Okla.
To promote a close-knit working environment among the village’s employees, buildings are set close together, rise no higher than four stories and spread no wider than 60 feet. High ceilings and large windows create an urban, loft-like feel.
The company also wanted its architecture to encourage team building and other innovative ways of working. There are fewer than 20 traditional offices in the village. Individual cubicles are less enclosed than in many companies, with shorter walls and wider entrances.
Visteon Village also stresses an array of alternative workspaces, including quiet rooms, conference rooms, soft-seating areas and collaborative spaces. Many of these spaces are in front of windows to take advantage of natural light and to foster creative thinking.
There’s even a Main Street, lined with sidewalks, trees and benches. The street features a convenience store, a beauty salon and barbershop, a restaurant and a bank. And to promote sustainable design that protects the environment, Visteon planted 5,000 trees throughout the campus to enhance the natural setting.
Spun off from Ford Motor Co. in 2000, Visteon is one of the world’s largest auto suppliers, with 72,000 employees and more than 200 technical, manufacturing, sales and service facilities in 25 countries.
Copyright 2004 Detroit Free Press. All Rights Reserved.
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