Centene’s East Coast Headquarters is, in a word, big. A million square feet of construction, in fact, on a 80-acre site. The company’s original plan for the project was to replicate a basic design prototype that had been used successfully for other company facilities, with buildings sitting atop a leveled plane. The terrain, however, was steeply sloped and heavily forested; working with the land instead of on top of it offered unparalleled opportunities to interact with the landscape and create a campus rooted in nature. Beginning with the interview stage of the project in February 2020, LS3P and Centene engaged in deep discussions about how to conform the buildings to the land instead of conforming the land to the buildings. The team committed to integrating the buildings and site with the least possible impact; the resulting design nestles the campus into the forest with buildings cascading down the hillside. The incredibly complex 3-dimensional footprint fits into the landscape with near surgical precision. The commitment to working in harmony with the nature of the site extended into all decisions moving forward from the master plan: materials selection, interior design, work environments, and amenities. The materials were informed and inspired by the existing natural context of forest, rocks, streams, earth, and sky. The exterior materials palette was determined early in the core and shell design process, and the skin was designed around a gradation of transparency analogous to filtered light through a tree canopy. The filigreed skin features phenolic panels with a wood grain finish to resonate with the site, and the wood grain repeats on the curtain wall, soffits, and mullions. The exposed board-form concrete also carries a wood grain texture. The team selected the clearest glass available to maximize visual connection between the workspaces and the forest. Ultimately, the materials that form the building exterior are remarkably similar to the texture of the natural elements found onsite. The interiors, likewise, were guided by the site, drawing from the concept of a tree house. The clustered workspaces are nests within a network of branches, serving as focal elements around which circulation flows. The movement through the space is fluid, with open escalators encouraging interaction and visual connection. Cantilevered meeting spaces perched at the corners offer expansive views of the forest beyond, preserved to the greatest extent possible to maintain the site’s ecology and habitat. The commitment to forging authentic connections with the natural environment went hand in hand with the new ways of thinking about work that were emerging in tandem with the design. Centene opted to create a completely wireless workplace- unusual for a campus of this size- to provide flexibility for its employees. The outdoor workspaces scattered throughout the campus, including three large landscaped terraces, function the same way as the workstations inside. The investment in technology and design coordination helps to further blur the lines between indoors and outdoors, allowing employees myriad options for work locations throughout the day. The design of the vast site also drew from the existing natural elements: three intermittent creeks, vegetation, trees, and rocks. Preserving trees was a key priority, but the site provided plenty of opportunities to interact with the environment. A campus greenway with three “mobility hubs” encourages activity and provides a place for employees to recharge. Water elements throughout the site provide visual interest and calming interludes in the site circulation. The campus design inverts the traditional corporate office paradigm, too often notable for a sense of “placeless space,” into a campus that grows from its environment. Buildings and landscape take equal precedence, working in harmony to deliver a unique workplace with a wellness-oriented culture. The campus is inseparable from its site, and the site is woven through every design. About Nathan, Paul, and Phil Principal Nathan Daniel, AIA, LEED AP serves as the firm’s Workplace Practice Leader. He excels developing and maintaining long, productive relationships with clients. He is responsible for the design of the overall project vision in multiple project sectors, including corporate commercial, faith, hospitality, and mixed-use developments. Nathan’s role is one of leadership and guidance, leading the project team from visioning through project completion. He is also a mediator, helping to foster trust and respect between the stakeholders. Nathan recently oversaw the completion of the new Elevation Church global headquarters in Ballantyne and AvidXchange’s new headquarters at the Music Factory just outside of uptown Charlotte. Nathan is the Principal in Charge for the new Centene East Coast Headquarters campus in Charlotte, NC. Associate Principal Paul Koska, AIA, LEED GA, offers a breadth of experience in corporate office, commercial mixed-use, and wellness projects. His projects are often complex in terms of design, coordination, and mix of uses and have diverse and extensive project teams. Paul is involved from the earliest phases of project development, producing visual imagery and modeling to convey project concepts. As an integral part of a project team, he carries out the work plan of the project leader and translates design intent into construction documentation. Paul also communicates and coordinates with subconsultants and jurisdictional authorities. His energetic and positive personality bring momentum to the team’s success. As a former member of a municipal planning and development department, Paul understands how to build a partnership to resolve issues during the review of development and construction plans. Paul is the Project Manager for the new Centene East Coast Headquarters in Charlotte, NC. Associate Principal and Senior Designer Phil Oliver, LEED AP, approaches each project with a wealth of experience in designing large-scale domestic and international urban projects. As the lead designer, Phil organizes and directs collaborative design teams across many disciplines to translate owner and user needs into an integrated project program. Using his knowledge of advanced building materials, intelligent building systems, and sustainability, he provides design solutions that yield lasting value for his clients. He believes the only constant in design is change and understands that each positive outcome is part of an evolutionary process which involves the client, the design team, and the community at large. Phil has worked in the Middle East and across the Pacific Rim, most notably in Korea, Vietnam, and China. In addition to his commercial mixed-use projects, he has extensive experience in corporate office, hospitality, sports and entertainment, aviation, and multifamily design. He has served as visiting design critic for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, University of Minnesota, and Iowa State University, and his projects have earned professional awards and international recognitions. Phil is one of the lead project designers for the new Centene East Coast Headquarters campus in Charlotte, NC.