When the opportunity arose to move their US headquarters, Danone—the parent company of such brands as Dannon yogurt and Evian water—decided to remain in White Plains, New York but update their office in a new space that better fits their employees’ needs. The solution? Renovating the fourth floor of a downtown White Plains shopping center into a new headquarters that unites hundreds of Danone employees in one large, collaborative floorplan.
Transforming a former retail space into an 85,000sf workplace meant basically going back to the drawing board. But because the lower three floors were still occupied by retail businesses, our Pavarini team couldn’t simply gut the place and start over. With shopping center hours and 24-hour cooling units for the grocery store, there were few to no windows for shutting down building services or working up from the lower floors. We had to map out every element—and communicate it clearly to the building managers and tenants—to ensure the work didn’t impact their businesses.
Another challenge was building the office’s 15,000sf addition over an existing parking garage. Parking garages are designed with a series of pitches to avoid rain water from pooling. While that’s a good thing for parking, it’s a problem for construction. With a surface that varied by as much as 1.5 feet, we coordinated elevations well ahead of construction to match the new addition floor with the interior, creating a practically seamless transition that also accommodates the finishes the client desired, from resilient wood to large-format ceramic tiles.
Building the addition on the parking lot also posed a weight problem. The structural load of a parking garage floor isn’t as high as that of an office floor. To solve the issue, we first designed the structural steel package in smaller pieces so that lighter components could be lifted up separately and then bolted and welded the sections once in place. Next, we used the parking garage’s as-built structural drawings to assess where the strongest structural supports were located. Then we painted grid lines over the surface to show the critical paths along which the cranes could travel. With those space limitations, the steel contractor used a spider crane, whose versatility allowed them to “unfold” the crane on the grid lines, pick up the steel, swing it into place, and then fold the crane back up and move it back along the grid line tracks to the next location.
With their beautiful new, collaborative, central workplace, Danone’s employees now have the flexibility and the downtown amenities they were hoping for. And the Pavarini team has a project that tells the story of nearly their entire expertise, from core-and-shell through to interiors.