Start with purpose, then create the place around it. This was Rayonier’s philosophy when they set out to create a unique mixed-use development on their own land just north of Jacksonville, Florida. Being the first building to open in the development, the Rayonier headquarter would set a precedent for this new village and define the vernacular style with its signature shed roof. With roots in forestry and owning and operating prime timberland real estate, Rayonier saw great potential in developing portions of their land into vibrant, community developments. This new building was an opportunity to drive a strategic shift in the company’s operating model by designing a workplace that connects employees together, celebrates the brand, and engages the greater community.
Previously fragmented in three separate buildings located in Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach, the Rayonier headquarter was intended to bring their people together. Employees felt disconnected from each other being in separate locations and often closed off in private offices and workstations with high panels. To address these issues, Rayonier desired a workplace that empowered associates with choice of work settings, increased collaboration, reinforced culture and community, and ultimately could be a strong recruiting tool for future talent.
A strong desire to connect to the community being developed led Rayonier to open their front door to the public. The impressive two-story lobby features a grandstand facing a large, vertically glass door that opens to an outdoor public park-like muse. Designed with the community in mind, Rayonier is encouraging public groups to use their lobby for community events, in addition to being a gathering space for their employees. Giving back to more than just their employees, Rayonier’s new headquarters also is a vital part of the emerging community.
Design ChallengeThe design needed to embody the One Rayonier Culture, with an inspiring environment celebrating the company’s heritage and bringing employees and departments together under one roof. The open atmosphere would represent a change in work culture—executives would be distributed throughout the floors while workstations and offices adopted a universal size. Employees would be empowered with choice of work setting and encouraged to collaborate with each other away from their desks at teamwork areas and social spaces distributed throughout the three-story workplace, including a covered outdoor deck.
Like warm sunlight through the pines, the lobby reflects the quality of Florida timberlands and the spirit of a development company that celebrates its stewardship of the natural environment. The visitor experience unfolds the story of timber refinement: from an installation of tree stumps at the front door, to the reception desk made of rough sawn beams, and the social stairs composed of milled planks. At the heart of the building, three iconic wood towers are the central focal point and anchor the design, bringing employees together in the meeting spaces contained within. They not only represent the heart of the community, but also express the soul of the company as each tower is clad in a different wood harvested from the Rayonier forests of the Southeast region. With their materiality and verticality, the towers nod to Rayonier’s heritage in the timber industry.
Physical ContextImproving the quality of life for employees and the community beyond was a core driver behind the new development. Details kept simple yet powerful, both inside and outside of the building, draw inspiration from the forests owned by the client and the simple low country lifestyle of the surrounding area.
The new headquarter is more than just a new office. It is the cornerstone of a new mixed-use community bringing employees from three locations into one signature building. The ever-present shed roof is exposed and celebrated on the interiors as a unifying symbol of the new One Rayonier culture. A continuous line of stairs on a central axis encourages movement through the building and leads from the third floor down to the gathering lobby. The two-story lobby features communal stairs and concealed AV capabilities designed for large townhall gatherings. This connected environment does not stop here, but extends to the plaza beyond through means of a large, operable glass door that opens up to the outside. Designed with the village in mind, community groups and organizations are encouraged to use this connected lobby for public events that would activate the plaza and celebrate this region’s strong connection to the outdoors.