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121 Financial Credit Union - Corporate Headquarters

Founded in 1935, 121 Financial Credit Union is one of the first credit unions established in the United States. When the company sought to redefine the traditional banking office environment with a fresh, new building concept, they selected GS&P to provide professional services for a 25,000-square-foot, three-story renovation project that relocated the organization’s corporate headquarters from the suburbs to the artsy Five Points district in Jacksonville’s Riverside area. Consolidating three separate office locations into a single, open-office floor plan, the new facility would house administration, customer service, accounting, business services, finance and loans, risk management, human resources, information technology and marketing, as well as open executive suites, team spaces, shared conference spaces, training rooms, a work café and employee-friendly amenities such as a 24-hour fitness center. 

To help the company through this major transition, GS&P hosted workplace strategy sessions for executive leadership that included two separate visioning sessions. The first session focused on global trends and how workplaces around the world are transforming to help reinforce the kinds of work processes that are designed to support future success. In the second session, GS&P and 121 Financial leadership reviewed the results of a workplace interest survey conducted with the entire workforce, which allowed staff to voice their opinions and concerns anonymously. This valuable feedback ultimately allowed GS&P and the client to determine how the new workplace could best align to meet the goals of 121 Financial’s new vision for the business while supporting employee satisfaction.

GS&P also conducted an observational analysis of 121 Financial’s current workplace environment together with a technology assessment to further develop the vision, strategy and principal objectives that would drive design decisions. Primary goals for the new corporate headquarters included: improved collaboration between departments; internal and external transparency; on-site flexibility of workspaces to improve employee satisfaction; and formal and informal spaces for interaction. 

To create a new impression of the corporate banking atmosphere—and to help facilitate improved interaction between departmental groups—company leadership opted to remove the physical and psychological barriers created by an existing workplace that was largely comprised of dedicated offices situated along extended, dark corridors. Responding to the client’s ideals of transparency, collaboration and workplace flexibility, GS&P’s new open-office arrangement design features low workstation panels, social gathering spaces and collaboration spaces, both formal and informal, for teammate interaction. 

The design also incorporates various styles of meeting spaces that range from traditional conference rooms to bar-height touchdown spaces, small team and focus rooms and conversational groupings. Design elements such as movable felt screens and open-slat walls allow for impromptu meetings to occur in the open without the feeling of being on display. Other key features such as exposed, white ceilings and a larger, more open breakroom/work café space also enhance the sense of openness for employees. 

Adhering to another of the client’s primary goals, GS&P’s branding effort reaches across generations, accommodating the established tastes of 121 Financial’s existing customer base while appealing to a growing millennial market—a key factor in attracting and retaining talent. 

Enhancing organizational integration, GS&P’s open-office design delivers on the client’s vision to break down the silos between departments and executive staff and provide a more flexible, mobile and collaborative workspace. The new corporate headquarters design is being used to inform the design of future 121 Financial Credit Union branches. 


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Project Info

  • Client: 121 Financial Credit Union
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL, USA
  • Market: Corporate + Urban Design
  • Services: Architecture, Engineering, Interior Design, Workplace Strategy, Environmental Graphics and Wayfinding, Branded Environments
  • Team:
    • Trevor S. Lee, AIA, NCARB PIC
    • Mary C. Couch , NCIDQ, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C PM
    • Erik J. Higgins, AIA, NCARB PP
    • Chandra Clonan
    • James Perrin
    • Phillip Petty
    • Joel C. Ratekin, MBA
    • Edward M. Stinnett, P.E., CEM
    • Bridge Wenrich, IIDA
    • Johnathan C. Woodside, P.E., LEED AP O+M, C.E.M., GBE
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