Few architectural projects can boast of a floating helix of chainsaws. But for STIHL Inc., the design of a new $32 million corporate headquarters was heavily inspired by their signature product. In between the trademark orange and white accents, the new 80,000 square foot administration building has a beautifully understated design that calls to the lush wooded allure of Virginia Beach. The landmark structure is a study in green building techniques, employee and customer comfort and the versatility of metal composite materials.
BUILDING A MANUFACTURING REGION IN COASTAL VIRGINIA
When STIHL first began US operations in Virginia Beach, VA in 1974, it worked out of a rented warehouse with only 50 employees. Today, STIHL Inc., makers of the number one selling brand of chainsaws worldwide, employs over 1,900 and operates from a 150-acre campus at their American headquarters. Their spectacular growth required an expansion of their facilities and, in 2017, they set to the task with Hampton Roads-based HBA Architecture and Hourigan Construction as the lead architect and general contractor.
The new building was to combine numerous administrative departments and encompass a new customer welcome center, outdoor demonstration area and provide brand experiences for customers and partners. Significant attention was paid to sustainable building practices, environmental stewardship and quality of life. Beautiful metal composite materials from ALPOLIC helped accentuate the natural beauty of the surroundings and brought the hallmark STIHL brand colors across the entire design. Highly recyclable metal composite materials (MCM) are designed, manufactured and supplied with sustainability in mind for companies, like STIHL Inc., looking to reduce their environmental footprint.
The standout element of the new administration building is the green roof, designed by another Hampton Roads-based company, Beck Roofing. This “living roof” features 56,000 sedum plants and is the largest privately funded green roof in Virginia. Green roofs provide visual appeal, contribute to nature, and lower the carbon footprint by reducing energy consumption because the vegetation retains heat in the winter and cools in the summer. Particularly helpful in Virginia Beach, the vegetated roof adds extra sound insulation to mitigate the passing fighter jet noise from local navy bases. The green roof, along with a retention pond, also helps to manage stormwater runoff.
Maintaining as much of the native landscape was an important criteria for the company. To minimize the construction’s footprint, the original 21,000 square foot administration building was razed. “We had to have a site survey done and hired an arborist,” said Mariusz Mijal, Associate Principal at HBA Architecture & Interior Design, Inc, who noted the company looked to accommodate employee needs, while at the same time focusing on tree preservation.
For better quality of life for the employees, the perimeter offices and cubicles were designed with glass partitions to allow natural light to penetrate the interior spaces which were supported with soundproofing and white noise machines; particularly helpful when conducting training or product demonstrations.
ALPOLIC DELIVERS LASTING PERFORMANCE
Mijal explains the choice of metal composite materials from ALPOLIC came down to performance. “Metal panels gave us the high-tech look we were going for, and ALPOLIC gave us the longevity of performance. With the size of the panels, we needed materials that stayed flat and gave us the company-matched colors. They need to perform.”
Roof Services, another Virginia Beach-based company, was selected to deliver a cladding system that met both the performance and aesthetic needs of the client. After seeing the finished fabrication, Mijal was delighted. “The product is great.” ALPOLIC maintains a full technical service support staff to help design and build professionals on MCM use from ideation to installation. Mijal indicated that installation details found on ALPOLIC’s resources page helped form the basis of the rainscreen application.
In total, over 32,000 square feet of ALPOLIC MCM in orange, MZG Mica Grey and BSX Silver Metallic were used on the three-story main building, guardhouse, and outdoor demonstration center. The STIHL campus boasts one million square feet of building space, the administration building being one of nine on the sprawling wooded property, nestled discretely beside retail spaces with the quintessential Virginia Beach jet noise above.
STIHL Inc has grown considerably since its early days, and now produces in a single day what they made in that first year in Virginia Beach. And the company continues to invest in its facilities in southeast Virginia. Virginia Beach and the greater Hampton Roads have been great for manufacturing because of its proximity to ports, the region's affordability, and the access to a skilled and diverse workforce. Similarly, ALPOLIC’s American headquarters has made its home in Hampton Roads for the last 30 years. Together they, and other companies, have invested in the local communities and committed to good corporate stewardship, building a brighter outlook for the region.