- Written by: Neil Cote
- Produced by: Joe Atwood
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
It may be a building’s exterior that gives that all-important first—some say, lasting—impression, but the interior is equally as important. It’s where people spend a large portion of their day. When that building is part of the hospitality industry, it had better seem hospitable.
That means that as business practices, employers and employees evolve, they require thoughtful transformation. But those changes can’t be impulsive; such an undertaking represents a significant investment in the institution’s future and what guests and employees will experience. Prudent is the company that solicits such advice from an established interior designer.
Which is what InterContinental Hotels Group did prior to beginning the renovation of multiple Crowne Plaza locations to serve today’s business traveler; transforming its own work environment to bring more hospitality—and efficiency—to all concerned.
Based on Hendrick’s successful design of multiple projects, IHG brought the design specialist on board to develop and implement creative solutions for key IHG projects.
Productivity made easy
Today’s working traveler is constantly on the go, texting, Skyping and multitasking with hand-held gadgets in ways that earlier generations never could have imagined.
A hospitality provider that can accommodate such a dynamic is sure to have an advantage, and that’s why IHG is depending on Hendrick Inc., which provided design services for the Crowne Plaza brand to support the working traveler.
Be it a quick conference over coffee or a comprehensive planning session, the concept called Flex Meeting space—creating working areas in existing lobbies—is becoming the way to go for on-the-spot productivity. Individual tech seating means privacy and Wi-Fi, and “The Huddle Spot” makes for a connected group work experience. Elevated counter seating offers the working traveler or travelers a flat screen, a built-in tablet and access to refreshments. Should there be need for more space as well as privacy, there’s “The Studio” whose amenities include sofas, televisions and a casual environment for the team.
But it’s not just the guests whom IHG wants to feel more at ease and more productive. IHG had the foresight to apply the same focused attention to their headquarters with a revamped approach to employee well-being and staff engagement.
IHG’s 400,000-square-foot Atlanta headquarters is a landmark against the Metro Atlanta skyline, and serves as the communication hub for IHG and its hotel brands. Hendrick partnered with key IHG Team Members and the IHG Steering Committee to develop a modern workplace strategy focused on retention, recruiting and enhanced collaboration across departments. A branded environment, focused on the diverse culture of IHG and the global markets it serves, was a core design directive, and one that Hendrick helped to define and implement.
The Workplace design standards created by Hendrick are being thoughtfully implemented and the excitement is building as employees, visitors and leadership are able to experience and enjoy the social and collaborative environment. With technology seamlessly integrated into the space, IHG gets to experience collaboration in a variety of settings that are equally fun and interactive.
A team effort
Like all projects Hendrick Inc. undertakes, the IHG and Crowne Plaza projects began with a lot of listening that led to an extensive exchange of ideas before the first toolbox was opened. Sure, the designer and hospitality leader have had a 20-year professional relationship, but tomorrow’s plans can’t rely on yesterday’s business model.
“It’s never a matter of just us giving information and doing the work,” says Christopher Heard, a friendly Auburn University grad and Hendrick co-principal with over 30 years of design savvy in virtually all market segments. “They may have hired us for our knowledge and expertise, but we wanted to make sure we were creating their vision, not just a prepared package we had in the office.”
Such modus operandi has made Hendrick the interior designer of choice for not just hospitality clients, but for many national corporations with operations that extend into Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Hendrick provides 100 percent commercial interior design services, with major projects including corporate headquarters for Georgia Pacific, Comcast and Delta Community Credit Union, as well as the local affiliates of such major law firms as Holland & Knight, Stites and Harbison, LLP, and Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP.
Also active in the health-care industry, Hendrick recently completed the design of the relocated Fulton County Health & Wellness. In addition, Hendrick has enjoyed over 20 years in partnership with Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital and satellite hospitals outside of metro Atlanta. Hendrick also provides on-call design services for the Kaiser Permanente Southeast Region and was the designer of a 150,000-square-foot, four-floor relocation for the IT division of Kaiser Permanente. Several service organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of metro Atlanta and Goodwill, have also depended on Hendrick’s expertise for the development of family- and children-focused designs with practical applications.
Capable on all fronts
A registered architect in 13 states who finds design inspiration from his travels, Heard’s background and mindset have proven an ideal fit for the firm founded in 1974 by Atlanta Designer, Bill Hendrick.
Perhaps the quintessential big-picture man, Hendrick’s fascination with design transcended the exterior, at a time when many of his contemporaries didn’t share such a comprehensive vision. He got his chance for full immersion into design when asked to establish the in-house firm for a developer named Jim Cushman, with whom he started Design Atlanta.
Hendrick left Design Atlanta to found the firm that bears his name. Just four years later, however, his interests turned to furniture design, and while remaining owner of Hendrick Inc., he moved to Michigan to partner with another company, leaving the Atlanta operation in the capable hands of then 29-year-old Marsha Cook.
“Listen, do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, but find out the answer,” summed up her way of doing business, and upon assuming ownership of Hendrick Inc. with Jim Ferguson, the firm’s growth accompanied Greater Atlanta’s robust development.
In the 1980s, the hires included Heard and another Auburn grad who would become co-principal, Jennifer Treter. From modest beginnings, Hendrick Inc. is now a thriving firm with annual revenues of $7 million and a staff of 42.
Hendrick’s interior design approach and philosophy for overall success is not limited to just physical structures. The corporate culture itself is fashioned in a way to ensure efficiency and creativity.
As Heard explains, there’s an extensive incubation period for the new hires. A fluid mentality—one in which they draw from the many backgrounds and places where they’ve trained—certainly is an asset. So too, is an affiliation with One Global Design, a network of entrepreneurial, owner-led design firms in the United States, Mexico and Canada, that share their creativity. Treter is a key leader within the network’s five-person executive committee.
So the pieces are in place for Hendrick Inc. to grow, but Heard cautions that it must be a well thought-out growth. Professional relationships are all-important in design and architecture, with extensive meetings often preceding any physical work. The firm values its impressive clientele and takes pride in the strength of those relationships— not the number of projects completed—and will not allow any compromise to the quality of its work by overextending its bounds.
Though long retired, Cook’s words remind one of the need for humility, and Heard is ever ready to expand on her message.
“One of our core values is we listen and really execute our client’s vision, not ours,” he says. “We don’t come in with any preconceived notions or egos; we’re out to deliver what our clients want, and we’ll find out through the listening process.”
They obviously listened well to InterContinental Hotels Group, and the results are seen in the incredible projects and, more importantly, in the long-standing relationship built on mutual respect and unwavering trust.
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