Whirlpool Corporation hired O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates, Inc. in the early 1990’s to develop a landscape master plan for its Administrative Center Campus to improve the appearance of site and landscape elements, with a goal of increasing landscape maintenance efficiency. The master plan involved the analysis of existing conditions and the development of landscape improvement recommendations that would serve as a framework for future work. The landscape improvement recommendations identified priorities and phases of landscape development and redevelopment, and were structured to describe a variety of levels of investment and management.
Whirlpool Corporation chose to work with OCBA again in 2014 when their site improvement goals included leveraging the site as an employee engagement tool, improving the connectivity of the buildings, and increasing the sustainability of the site to reduce maintenance.
OCBA partnered with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) on the campus master plan. The location of Whirlpool’s campus along the Lake Michigan shoreline and at the mouth of the Paw Paw River rivershed makes it a key stopping point for many bird and butterfly species. SWMLC’s role was to evaluate the existing natural systems and recommend improvements to increase biodiversity.
The master plan proposes clearing the dense vegetation surrounding a small stream that runs between buildings, and creating a variety of spaces for informal seating on tables and chairs, benches and boulders, as well as organized meetings in several shelters of varying sizes. Sweeping, well-lit bike and walking trails connect the buildings, and a large parking lot is relocated to provide a level space in the “Commons” for event tent set-up.
The plan was developed using a two-day charrette process that involved key Whirlpool team members in the design and decision-making. Marlies Manning of Manning Design was part of OCBA’s team for the charrette.
OCBA continues to work with Whirlpool to implement the improvements depicted in the master plan; currently collaborating with Epstein Architects and Abonmarche Civil Engineers on final design for site improvements at the Global Headquarters building.