Tag Archives: complex

Pacific Life

April 13, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The site of Omaha’s old Knights of Aksarben complex—acres of once-busy thoroughbred horse racing and concert space turned albatross—has blossomed anew as the live-work-play destination spot known as Aksarben Village.

The booming mixed-use development is home to popular eateries, a movie theater, health club, and two colleges. This is part of why Pacific Life Insurance Company moved its regional business operations office from downtown to a new five-story building there in late 2015. The company’s Omaha office has grown from 250 to 450 workers since the blue-gray motif structure’s 2014 groundbreaking.

The gleaming, glass-fronted Holland Basham Architects design offers many creature comforts and inhabits prime real estate at 6750 Mercy Road.

The new digs provide a branded presence after a low-key profile at downtown’s Landmark Center.

Angela Greisen, Pacific Life assistant vice president for human resources, says, “We couldn’t have our name on the previous building in any big, visible way. We’d been in Omaha 12-plus years and people still didn’t know we were here.” That’s changed, she says, as events “bring thousands of people to the village and our new building with our big branding and signage is right there in the middle of everything.”

“That’s been huge for us. It’s also given us higher applicant flow because people now know we’re here and here to stay and we’re growing.”

Where many employees had to use off-site parking downtown, they now have an 850-stall covered garage. A heated, enclosed skybridge connects the building to the garage.

Greisen was part of a project team drawn from each Pacific Life business unit that polled employees about their likes and dislikes.

“The three most important things employees said they wanted were parking, amenities, and a nearby location with easy access,” she says.

Aksarben was the clear site choice. Pacific Life partnered with Magnum Development on the $33 million new build. The company occupies the second through fifth floors. Eateries and shops fill the ground floor.

“Staff response has been great,” Greisen says. “They love the parking, the amenities, the bright, airy feel of the building with the wide-open layout, natural lighting, and clean, modern finishes. Though we added only about 10,000 square feet, it’s organized much more efficiently.”

Each floor plan incorporates cutting-edge work spaces to enhance communication, team-building, workflow, and group projects via huddle spaces, conference rooms, and commons areas. She says, “Staff can seamlessly interface in real time with colleagues at other locations through videoconferencing, teleconferencing, and webinar technology.”

There’s a Wall Street trading-room floor look to the third floor internal wholesaling area. Flat-screen panels stream motivational performance messages and live market conditions to the sales desk floor.

In multiple areas, adjustable, stand-up work stations are available. Employees can indulge their freshly brewed beverage cravings at several Keurig stations.

The in-house Park View Cafe is a grab-your-own, pay-with-your-phone Company Kitchen model. The spacious room converts into a meeting-reception space with audio-video connectivity. A covered balcony offers a panoramic overlook of Stinson Park.

Though not green certified, the structure integrates many conservation features, including energy efficient windows, LED lighting, HVAC that is programmed to shut off when areas are unoccupied, low water usage restroom fixtures, and motion-sensor lighting.

Greisen says employees appreciate Aksarben Village’s warm welcome and plethora of things to do. Proximity is a big plus, too, as Pacific Life is an employer partner of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, whose south campus is in the village. As an employer partner, company representatives promote their job opportunites and participate in career fairs; staffers also speak to classes and conduct mock interviews when asked. Greisen hopes this partnership will grow.

“We expect an increase because we have a partnership with UNO, and now we are literally on the edge of their campus,” she says. “It’s very convenient. Increased visibility.  It gives us even more opportunities to partner with the university.”

This visibility, along with the popular amenities, could mean an increase in sought-after employees at Pacific Life in the near future.  And that can help secure Pacific Life’s future.

Visit  aksarbenvillage.com for more information.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Karen Schnepf

December 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Karen Schnepf’s artist profile, published in Her magazine in 2009 (now HerFamily magazine), carried the subtitle “Coloring Outside the Lines.” Much has changed in Schnepf’s life and artwork since then, but her credo is still the same. Whether beginning a fresh painting, designing her home, or playing with a grandchild, she believes in following an idea wherever it may lead rather than let conventional boundaries define the shape of her explorations. Color and curiosity are the joint impetus for her paintings; they are the verve and rhythm that bring her work to life.

Schnepf’s painting signature is an immediately recognizable style, with abstract compositions whose bright colors are emphasized by the artist’s unique, high-gloss finish. Colors assume shape by either consolidating into an area on the canvas or by lines suggesting a perimeter. These contours—whether a thick brush stroke or a quick, gestural dash—are somehow incomplete, interrupted. They have the same energy as Navajo spirit lines—the break prevents the work’s creative spirit from being trapped and thus stifled. Schnepf’s lines exclaim, meander, circle, and drip; they both allude and elude.

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Her new paintings literally and figuratively bump up the arrangement. In her latest series, Whispers, Secrets, Reality, paper collaged onto the canvas adds a layer of mystery to one or more areas of a painting. Finished with her three-step glossing process, the dimensionality is subtle and ambiguous, especially in view of Schnepf’s tendency to overlap paint. Before you can wonder what’s been covered up you have to decide if something has actually been covered up.

“The series is inspired by the complexity of relationships that come into our lives and how those relationships can change our road map,” says Schnepf.

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Further exploring the enticement of playing with space in another current series, Colors Layered, she arranges strata of heavy watercolor paper, cut, painted on one or both sides, and layered like shingles. Many of these soak up her vivid hues like sundrenched tiles, but Schnepf is so attuned to color that she celebrates its range even in a neutral palette. This sensitivity allows color to remain strong, even with the added focuses of texture 
and dimension.

“I particularly love the smooth, sophisticated, shiny surfaces of Karen’s pieces. It brings a vibrancy to the work.”
— Judy Boelts, collector

Whether painting or constructing, Schnepf follows her instincts; she adds, subtracts, shifts, leaves, comes back, questions, listens.

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“There is a passion in me that requires me to go to the next level,” she says, “to never settle for the ordinary, to experiment until I find the right combination of elements.” When she senses that her ideas have coalesced into an articulate and aesthetic expression, “Then I feel the satisfaction of completion, and the only thing that I add is my signature.” Change can be dramatic, as in Whispers, Secrets, Reality 5. (Works in a series are typically identified by number.) A patchwork ground has been quieted by a scrim of lavender; the most intense of those colors integrated into a central column. Black circles take on physicality; one can imagine they buzz in conversation, while black and white riffs ripple the surrounding space.

Coloring outside the lines, it seems, is an invitation to improvisation.

Karen Schnepf is represented by the Dundee Gallery. A solo exhibition of her work is planned there in April.