From Food to Filming, Atria’s Headquarters is a Full-Service Shop

Imagine hosting a rooftop business meeting, then popping into a state-of-the-art test kitchen to help shoot a culinary training video, followed by viewing senior living-related pieces from a renowned photographer.

All that lies under one roof for the corporate employees of Atria Senior Living, a Louisville, Kentucky-based operator with nearly 200 senior housing communities nationwide. Atria’s downtown headquarters houses roughly 325 workers and includes a test kitchen, film and photography studio, a bistro open to the public and a bevy of meeting and work spaces.

The goal of the all-in-one workplace is to lend the large operator flexibility to try new concepts on the fly, according to Regan Atkinson, senior vice president of creative for Atria.

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“We are in an industry that is changing really quickly,” Atkinson told Senior Housing News. “Us being able to have a place and having vertically integrated capabilities allow us to run a smarter and more efficient senior housing management company.”

Atria is not the only senior living company to create a next-gen corporate headquarters to keep pace with the fast-changing industry. Senior Housing News is shining a light on some of these HQs in the coming weeks. Check out our previous coverage here.

Staying nimble

Atria moved into its downtown Louisville headquarters in 2014. The space, which was expanded this year, now spans about 100,000 square feet across multiple floors. Though Atria would only say the HQ was a “multi-million dollar” project, it’s clear the provider spent a good deal outfitting it with the latest bells and whistles, such as an in-house film and photo studio.

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Before Atria had its own production studio, it did a good amount of filming inside its communities, which was a complicated process that required jumping through some hoops. With a production studio, however, Atria can take photos and produce professional training videos or updates for its communities at the drop of a hat.

“We are able to…communicate in a way that is connecting people-to-people, versus the feared five-paragraph email,” Atkinson said. “The video studio allows us to stay in touch and have ongoing communication from leadership out to the field.”

The video setup also extends to the provider’s newly built test kitchen. There, chefs and other staffers can test the equipment, recipes and other products used in Atria’s communities—and even stream demonstrations live to the outside world.

“[The kitchen] includes state of the art equipment that you’d find in really upscale restaurants,” explained Sanela Graziose, Atria’s vice president of strategic project management. “It allows us to show our culinary staff in the field how to do a new plating, how to make a specific recipe or incorporate a new food program into their menu offering at the community.”

On the other side of the test kitchen is the Haymarket Bistro, a public restaurant that mirrors one of the 30 bistros Atria operates at its communities.

Designing for wellness

Much of Atria’s headquarters is tailored to the kind of employees that might work there.

For example, the provider’s creative, marketing and IT teams work in a multipurpose space with polished concrete floors and exposed ceilings. The space is also bedecked in a material called Walltalker, which turns ordinary walls into magnetic dry erase boards.

The innovative design isn’t limited to creative or startup types, however. Though Atria’s accounting and administrative employees work in a more traditional carpeted space with cubicles, similar to what they would find at a public accounting firm, that space includes a “giant living room,” file cabinets that double as countertops and a lounge area for large lunches or celebrations.

The idea is to design the spaces for the types of employees Atria hopes to attract—and to foster collaboration throughout the company.

“We really spent a lot of time studying and spending time with different teams before we built our new space,” Graziose said. “[Creating] a type of work environment that appeals to a lot of different types of people has been one of the great accomplishments of what we’ve designed here.”

Other design elements include meeting rooms that can be adjusted in size by opening or closing garage door partitions, ambient sound masking technology, LED lighting, large glass walls and windows that let in natural light, and a rooftop garden cared for by a local arboretum. The provider’s conference rooms are also named after some of its residents, whose photos—taken by Mark Seliger, former chief photographer for Rolling Stone magazine—are scattered throughout the office.

Atria employees also have access to a number of wellness initiatives, such as yoga classes, ergonomic work chairs and a fitness center with the same equipment found in the provider’s communities.

“It all comes back to the fact that everything we created in our support center is tied to our communities,” Atkinson said. “We maximize quality of life for the older people we serve, but we also want a wellbeing framework for our employees.”

Written by Tim Regan

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