The Children's Place Receives Business Week/Architecural Record Award
Secaucus, NJ, November 2, 2000 - Elimination of an "us" vs. "them" attitude in a corporate setting wins high accolades for The Children's Place. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), sponsor of the Business Week/Architectural Record Awards, on October 27, 2000 named The Children's Place (Nasdaq: PLCE) as one of ten international recipients of this prestigious award. The annual award honors architects and their clients who collaborate in utilizing good design to achieve strategic goals, and recognizes projects that best express the achievement of client goals through architecture.
The Children's Place, one of the fastest growing specialty retailers of apparel and accessories for children, designs, sources and markets products nationally. In 1996 the Company operated 108 stores, and now with over 390 stores in 42 states, the Company is positioned for continued growth and success in the 21st century. This rapid growth inspired Ezra Dabah, CEO of The Children's Place, to move the Company headquarters to Secaucus, New Jersey and retain New York architecture firm Davis Brody Bond, LLP and workplace strategy consultants DEGW North America LLC to design the new building.
The mission was to create a new headquarters that would support the need for additional space and staff while, at the same time, inspire ownership and creativity. The team developed a series of concept plans based on the findings of a workplace survey. The survey identified key work patterns and work styles characterized by the degree to which work is interactive or autonomous, individual or collaborative. The design of the individual workplace was a key driver of the project, and the team was challenged to create a space that incorporated both design and functionality.
The result is a work environment that increases communication and encourages teamwork. It's not just a place to design children's clothes, but it extends the design by bringing together all aspects of the business in an interactive setting. Development of an on-site store brings in what the public would see, and keeps the workforce always in touch with the reality of their customers' perspective. The design and attention to detail shows sensitivity to employee needs. A recent Merrill Lynch analyst report credited the new headquarters with high levels of employee retention (95%), improved recruitment and increased productivity.
Award jury members observed that the headquarters layout allows core teams from design to mesh with production and merchandising teams to support innovation and overall improvement in workflow. The facility provides a completely consistent environmental statement about the company's brand. The integration of most aspects of the retailer's process, including store mock-up is an ideal way to enable a company-wide team culture. Forget "location, location, location." When it comes to "getting it" about what talent needs and wants,The Children's Place is imagination, imagination, imagination!
Additional Jury Comments
Eric Richert, Vice President of Workplace Operations and Research Sun Microsystems
"I loved the project! It was an excellent example of bringing the real world into the workplace. What was fascinating was that it's not just a place to design children's clothes, but it extends the design by bringing in what the public would see in the setting where the design is sold. This keeps the company's workforce always in touch with the reality of their customers in the marketplace."
James O. Jonassen, FAIA, RAIC, managing partner NBBJ, Seattle
"This facility provides a completely consistent environmental statement about the company's brand. The integration of most aspects of the retailer's process, including store mock-up is an ideal way to enable company-wide team culture."
Wilson Pollock, FAIA, founder and president ADD Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
"This exceptionally comfortable, bright, and lovingly detailed workplace resulting from unusual care and collaboration, is also effective and productive and inspires employees and charms visitors."
Julie Eizenberg, president Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc., Santa Monica, Calif.
"A really well crafted, thoughtful place for people to work for, to keep the enthusiasm of people who love what they do and love what they sell. The demonstration store was really interesting. There are different ways to send messages to people that they are valued. And making the work environment a place where people feel valued by saying that it counts, I think, influences people's ideas of who they are and the organization they work for, makes people feel good."
Robin Ellerthorpe, FAIA, NCARB, senior associate director, Facilities Consulting O'Donnell Wicklund Pigozzi & Peterson Architects, Inc., Chicago
"The owner's respect for design showed in their apparel lines. The marriage, therefore, of architect and owner for this effort produced an exceptionally clean and intuitive space that clearly established the designer/retailer as a stable and vibrant business. The highly functional design becomes an employee amenity that increases retention, new hires and functional processes within the headquarters. Every element seems well designed and translates to a business that has its act together."
Yvonne Szeto, AIA, partner Pei Cobb Freed & Partners LLP, New York City
"An attractive work environment with a bright, spirited approach that reflects the merchandising style distinctive to the company. Though the primary driver for the design was to strengthen the connection between product design, production and retailing, the new offices also improved staff retention and recruitment. Considerable investment was made in staff amenities and in the work environment - e.g. flat screen technology throughout, top-of-the-line furniture systems, etc."
Edward Ciffone, senior vice president and director of facilities Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, New York City
"Very successful. The collaboration among the CEO, the employees and the architect was exceptional. The design was very employee-oriented, meaning warm, open and plenty of natural light. It's no wonder that 99 percent of the employees gladly made the move even though most now have a longer commute to a workplace that is less residential than the one they were used to. This CEO was phenomenal in considering his employees' welfare. But, not only did the employees get a beautiful, comfortable workplace, the CEO was able to lower the company's cost at the same time they were expanding. This was one of the highlights of my site visits."
Henry Cobb, FAIA, founding partner Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects LLP, New York City
"A lively and engaging environment for work."
Jane Weinzapfel, FAIA, principal Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Boston
"The Children's Place is exceedingly clever in creating a marvelous internal workplace which always keeps in mind the products, the customer, and their interface in the shopping experience. All the spaces are light, bright, crisp, upbeat, and varied, and contribute to creative design of new products."