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Working Together to Create a Better Michigan at the New HQ

Words by Abbie Dyer on Sep 29, 2015 11:00:00 AM

With the construction of our new headquarters complete, we're all settled in and excited for the change of scenery. For the first time, all of our administrative employees will be together under one roof, making it easier for communication and collaboration. The completion of the building marks a new beginning in the Lake Trust story. And chapter one begins with the story of the building itself.

Before we even broke ground at what would become our new headquarters in Brighton, MI, we sat down and decided what factors were most important to us in the new building. We wanted to create a place that promoted health, inspiration and innovation. These ideas played a big role in the selection of our building site, the planning process and the construction of our new home.

  • Refurbished wood accent wall
    Accentuating Our Look. Refurbished wood from demolished buildings in Detroit create accent walls at HQ.
  • Grand Staircase at HQ
    Walk This Way. The grand staircase encourages employees to exercise and skip the elevator.
  • Living Wall
    It's Alive! The living wall will house greenery and help the building blend in with the surrounding woodland.

LEED-ing the Way


Lake Trust HQ is working toward a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which means that we're doing our part to be energy efficient and minimize our impact on the environment. One way we did this was by creating a living wall. This showpiece near the entrance of the building will help us reduce our energy consumption and it'll purify the air. Plus it's a cool way to blend natural elements into our home. Our concern for the environment is just one of the many ways we're paying tribute to our state.


"This building site is life in Michigan," Chris, Facilities Manager at Lake Trust, explains during a tour of the grounds. "You have a body of water and several types of trees and wildlife native to Michigan."


During construction, time was spent staking out "significant trees" on the lot, or trees that are native to the area and/or significant in age. These trees are marked and will be preserved on the property. Extra care was taken to protect the ecosystem of the nearby pond by creating a natural water filtration system for runoff water from the parking lot.


If Walls Could Talk


As part of our efforts to reuse materials and as a way to tip our hats to the state of Michigan, we decided to use refurbished wood paneling on some of the accent walls in the building. The planks of wood that make up the paneling are actually salvaged pieces from demolished buildings in Detroit.


In the entrance and on the back patio, large timbers tower next to the building. These art pieces are our way of paying homage to Mother Nature and it's a reminder of the beauty that surrounds the building site. In the cafeteria, canoe paddles hang from the ceiling, another art piece that was inspired by the various outdoor activities available in Michigan.


Inspiration From Nature


HQ embraces the architectural concept of taking the outdoors and inviting it indoors. We worked with SmithGroup JJR, our lead architect for design, and Christman Company, our construction managers, to create a building made mostly of glass. Not only will this allow us to blend in to the environment and reduce any visual pollution, but it symbolizes the transparency of our company. 


"We're not a typical credit union and we didn't want to look like one," says Chris. 


Inside HQ, you won't find any cubicle walls. This physical barrier can inhibit collaboration because it puts an emphasis on individual work. The purpose of HQ is to bring employees together to make communication between different departments easier. An open workplace will help us understand the different perspectives and insights that our coworkers in other areas can offer. This encourages the innovation we need to become a stronger organization. And this might not happen if we worked in a traditional office layout. 


Improving Our Health


Not only does LEED promote a healthy environment, but it promotes employee and community wellness too. 


"To be LEED-certified means that you're building a site that's friendly to the occupants, the business, the neighborhood and the environment," Chris explains. 


Walking trails line the surrounding forest for employees who want to enjoy some fresh air in the middle of the day. Being thoughtful of the natural habitat, mulch, instead of concrete, was put down to mark the trails and cut down on maintenance. 


Our new home is a welcome place for visitors, guests and employees. We're looking forward to the great things that we're going to create and do as we continue to write the Lake Trust story.


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