Letting the Good Times Roll at the new Kawasaki HQ

CoreNet’s Winner for REmmy’s (50,000 K SF or less category) is the new Kawasaki headquarters. We learned about the project from the design team leaders from H. Hendy.

CoreNet: Tell me about their new location and how it was found.

H. Hendy team: Prior to their move Kawasaki resided in a building which they had built over 30 years ago in Irvine so this was a learning process for them. Ultimately their goal was to consolidate their space by finding a new location that could accommodate their various real estate needs of an office, R&D space, mock-dealer showroom, and a museum. This proved to be a difficult task for their broker, but eventually they signed a lease in a large former retail space in Foothill Ranch. Being that it’s across from a busy shopping center on the corner of Bake Parkway and Portola in Foothill Ranch, the location has great visibility.

CoreNet: How did H. Hendy initially get involved?

H. Hendy: Not having worked with Kawasaki in the past, our team interviewed for the project back in early 2015 and we were shortlisted then selected in Spring of that year. Back in May we did visioning and programming and we got more into concept in July.

CoreNet: Who was on your core team for the project?

H. Hendy: Our internal team of six consisted of Jennifer Walton, Principal; Jennifer Bartelt, Project Manager; Todd Shumaker, Senior Designer; Jeep Pringsulaka, Designer; Kate Mills, Project Coordinator; and Sahar Kamalhedayat, Project Coordinator. Initially we met with the executive team from Kawasaki but Tom Porter, Director of Human Resources & Administration, was as the main point of contact running the project from the client side. He recently retired, but saw them through the entirety of the transition.

CoreNet: Since this was a multi-faceted project, can you detail the various goals for success and tell a bit about how you reached them?

H. Hendy: As mentioned earlier it was important to find a large enough space for their multi-disciplinary use which was also located in an area central to their current employees. Within Kawasaki they have an incredible employee retention, many having been inducted into the “Shogun Club,” a tradition within their company that applauds decades of service.

To describe the project from the outside looking in it was important for Kawasaki to have a branded space. You can see this branded element from afar but getting this new façade wasn’t easy since they are on a 30-year lease, but didn’t own the building. We rebuilt the entire front of the building and created and internal staircase also branded in their signature green color.

This new exterior entryway lead into another area that was a big goal for Kawasaki: a mock-showroom, a new concept for them which was coordinated with their local dealerships. Now their dealers have a space to conduct training sessions and visually experience that design and standard Kawasaki expects from their showrooms.

CoreNet: How did their “drivers for success” influence their desires for the office space?

H. Hendy: Of their new roughly 210,000 K SF space, almost 100K of which is now dedicated to their office space. Technology came up many times throughout the planning and design for this space and this was not lost on the office side. Their desire for a modernized space that could attract new employees, efficiently use the space, but also retain “a nice modest feel” to align with the company’s Japanese heritage was all important.

In the end Kawasaki reduced headcount and square footage by consolidating workers into a more open-plan environment. We outfitted this area with adjustable-height workstations and ergonomic task seating. They also now boast wifi throughout allowing their workers to be untethered from their workstations. Room schedulers were added to keep their conference room space orderly.

A lot about collaboration and having this space be something they were proud of. Bring the energy of the brand and have woven it into the environment.

CoreNet: Additionally, you provided incredible amenities.

H. Hendy: Yes! We They have a full-service cafeteria which has a subsidized breakfast and lunch service, a fitness studio complete with showers and locker room. Notably, since so much of the design of their space revolved around their heritage as a company, Kawasaki also incorporated a beautiful museum of their products like their first jetski and examples of their earliest motorbikes. These pieces were in the old space but not as celebrated as the needed to be, now they’re part of a more interactive space.

Of the remaining 73K SF, most is occupied by their warehouse as well as their R&D shops which they support their dealers and racing team.

CoreNet: Any big hurdles during the project?

H. Hendy: Their prior location was sold which created a hard date for move-out which crunched our construction timeframe by a few months. By the end of June of 2016, their building wasn’t 100% complete, their electrical wasn’t complete and we still had a bit of construction underway but we wound up only finishing less than a month behind schedule. In the end, Kawasaki is genuinely happy with this build out that allows for their ongoing growth but lays tribute to their legacy