Tag Archives: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

TD Ameritrade

August 25, 2014 by
Photography by Scottdrickey.com

Mike Burns cycles two miles every morning to his corporate job off the Papio Trail. The 51-year-old e-commerce director arrives by 8:15 a.m. (weather permitting).Then, he tucks his bike into an employee locker and
heads upstairs.

Thirteen hundred employees at TD Ameritrade’s new headquarters are trickling into the building. Anyone driving a low-emission vehicle can park at preferential spots. Other employees with electric cars charge their batteries for free.

TD Ameritrade’s turquoise-green façade looms over the Dodge Street/I-680 interchange. The building’s design features random dark squares, resembling the old-fashioned stock ticker tapes once sent by telegraph, a tribute to the leading online brokerage’s forbearers.

Green splashes the company logo. Its website claims that green is “not just our company color.” A variety of eco-friendly amenities are helping the headquarters achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest level of certification, LEED Platinum. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”

The 12-story, 530,000-square-foot Omaha facility broke ground in July of 2010. Three years later, TD Ameritrade began relocating employees from five offices scattered across Omaha.

“We were looking for an opportunity to bring all of our Omaha employees into one location,” says spokeswoman Kim Hillyer, a healthy-looking communications executive dressed in green tones. 

Concentrating workers allowed the company to offer perks—a basketball court, sand volleyball court, gym, and cafeteria—and to experiment with design. Architectural firm HOK designed the headquarters, TD Ameritrade’s first custom-build despite locations across the country.

Sunlight pours from enormous southward windows. The entire building was oriented to maximize natural sunlight and cut energy consumption by 45-46 percent.

Hillyer begins a campus tour from the cavernous lobby. A “smart” elevator without buttons takes guests down to the garage (generating electricity en route).

“When we first moved in, two staffers drove electric cars; now we have 10,” she says, standing beside one of five charging stations in the car park.

Up the tower, employees are typing from low cubicles facing a wall of windows. Fritted glass controls light and heat exchange. A shelf above the window helps reflect light to the back, where a slanted white ceiling and white walls reflects it across workers.

Meeting rooms occupy the back of each floor. Electronic sensors detect movement to activate/deactivate lights. Bamboo wood and linoleum from linseed oil were common construction materials, due to their rapidly renewable nature.

A rooftop garden pavilion hosts a team meeting in the sun, and nearby solar devices generate heat for the building. Meanwhile, rooftop drains gather rainwater for toilet flushing. Lawn drains also collect runoff to irrigate an expansive field of drought-resistant native vegetation, buffalo grass, and junipers.

“Part of the LEED requirement is education,” Hillyer says, pointing at the information labels posted throughout the facility. Public tours are available once every quarter.

Four wind turbines twirl on poles above the parking lot. They only generate a kilowatt per day. But there’s room for 20 more turbines. The management is thinking green, Hillyer insists, for the long-term.


Nature-Inspired Office Space

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Tom Kressler

The four elements—earth, fire, wind, and water—connote strength, simplicity, and timelessness andwere the source of inspiration for the design of the Pinnacle Bank Headquarters at 180th & Dodge streets in Omaha.

Pinnacle Bank, a Nebraska-based institution now in eight states, worked closely with the team at Avant Architecture to make the building essentially a piece of modern art. Rising from the horizon, the stone, steel, and glass structure suggests strength and elegance, simplicity and beauty.

“We’re really all about Nebraska and the Nebraska way,” says Chris Wendlandt, Senior Vice President of Marketing/Retail. Having previously worked with Avant, Wendlandt says the architecture firm knew their philosophy well. “Avant worked to match the building with the brand, and I think they did a great job.”

Wendlandt says that the goal was to create a space that would be simple, warm, and inviting, and something that both employees and their customers would be proud of.


Since their grand opening in June 2011, the response of employees and clients has been overwhelmingly positive.

The overall design of the building is sleek, yet elegant. “The emphasis is on light, openness, and views [of the exterior landscape],” says Wendlandt. Italian tile runs throughout the approximately 82,000-square-foot building. Other materials carried throughout the building’s design are the dark, German wood veneer, Oberflex, used in cabinets and doors, as well as a Gage Cast bronze metal that can be found near the teller line, in the elevator, and in other parts of the building.

Glass plays a prominent role in the overall design as well. Running through the lobby is a green-tinted channel glass wall, hinting at the element of water and providing light, as well as privacy, to first-floor offices and conference rooms. Large glass-panel walls on both exterior and interior walls keep with the open and airy feeling.

“The consistency throughout the whole building gives it that warm feeling, but then the artwork really brings [to life] what our brand is,” says Wendlandt. While the design of the space is minimalist, the artwork is what captures the attention of the viewer.

Board Room.psd

Aided by Holly Hackwith of Corporate Art Co., the art in the building was commissioned especially for the Pinnacle Bank project. With the majority of the artists being from Nebraska and the surrounding area, their work conveys the feel of Pinnacle’s home state. “We went through and identified artists we thought worked for the building,” says Wendlandt. Some of the more prominently featured artists are Jorn Olsen, Helene Quigley, and Matt Jones.

Then, in what Hackwith calls an extraordinary gesture, the Pinnacle executives allowed their employees to select which pieces would go into their personal offices. The result is an art collection that is a healthy mix of traditional and modern, serene and vibrant.

“Their employees really felt like they were a part of the process,” says Hackwith. Each work of art includes a plaque detailing the name of the piece, the name of the artist, and a brief description of the piece and artistic process involved.

The executive offices on the upper floors have glass-panel walls that look into the hallways and common areas. Employee cubicles have lower walls with glass panes imbedded, giving nearly every employee access to natural light and breathtaking views.

Roof Deck.psd

A community meeting room was created so that many of Pinnacle’s nonprofit clients can reserve it for their own use. “Community is…very important to us,” says Wendlandt. She says that they made a conscious effort to include a conference room with community access to it. All conference rooms are equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology

The top floor houses a green roof as well as a meeting area surrounded by glass-paneled walls that can slide open and be used to entertain clients or hold business meetings.

The building has achieved its sought-after LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification. To earn this distinction, the building must meet green building standards regarding energy performance, water efficiency and several other aspects. In September 2012, the Pinnacle Bank project was also honored for its superior design with a silver award in the Corporate-Healthcare category by the Nebraska-Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

President Sid Dinsdale and the executives at Pinnacle Bank have created a new work space that reflects their values as a company. In doing so, they have also built a monument to where they came from and the clients they serve.