A leading manufacturer of commercial trucks, buses, defense vehicles and engines selected Gresham Smith to design its 300,000-square-foot engine assembly plant in Alabama. Looking to create a sophisticated and memorable space to showcase its full-size trucks and vehicular components to visiting customers, the company reached out to Gresham Smith once again, this time to design a new customer center within its existing facility.
One of the client’s key goals was to create a distinctive entrance to the new customer center for visitors while maintaining access to the plant beyond for its employees. Gresham Smith’s innovative design achieves this by placing the customer center close to the building’s existing entry and security sequence, offering easy access for visitors. To segregate the center from the assembly plant, the design team created corridors around the entire customer center providing employees with separate, controlled access to the plant. To address the cavernous effect of the new corridors due to the plant’s 30-foot ceiling height, the team incorporated a drop ceiling and artwork along the corridor walls.
The customer center’s pre-function area was also a major programming element that presented the designers with a unique opportunity to define the company's brand. Serving as a pivotal display space as well as a casual meet-and-greet area, visitors can gather around displays in the pre-function area before entering into meetings and experience an up-close look at the smaller engines and truck components that the company is renowned for manufacturing. Accented by floating cubes that emphasize the individual displays, along with quartz countertops, inset rubber flooring and a distinguishing wood feature wall, this area also features flexible graphic displays that can be viewed from multiple angles. The lightweight banners and freestanding pylon displays can be easily changed out to represent the company's various subsidiary companies. In addition, the space includes a video display wall, adjustable track lighting, stands and casework to elevate smaller truck components, and acoustical wall panels to cut down on noise.
Another of the client's key objectives was to provide a multifunctional conference space within the new customer center. Gresham Smith’s design creates a versatile conference room that can easily be subdivided into separate meeting rooms (for various-sized meetings) via Skyfold partitions that fold down from the ceiling. The design also allows for each sub-meeting room to function independently from the other rooms. Additionally, the team incorporated a large glass wall between the conference space and the customer center’s truck viewing room which showcases the company's full-size trucks and engines. The loading and unloading of trucks in this large display area is shielded by motorized MechoShades that can be opened during presentations to create a “grand reveal” of the company's new trucks for visiting customers.
Merging the client's corporate identity with its industrial purpose, Gresham Smith’s leading-edge design successfully delivers an impressive and unique experience for visiting customers while updating the company’s image and emphasizing its distinctive brand. The 10,150-square-foot customer center also includes: men’s and women’s restrooms; a breakout meeting room (that allows visitors to make private phone calls or work on their laptops in between meetings); and a servery with refrigeration, storage, and space to serve food and beverages.