Gallery: Avon’s New LEED-Seeking Headquarters Showcase the Company’s Co...

Image © Amanda Silvana Coen for InHabitat
Most are familiar with Avon for their cosmetics but do you know the story behind company's long history of corporate citizenship? Since its founding in 1886, the company has created the largest social network for women and established programs to empower women economically. It has also contributed to pertinent female issues such as breast cancer and the effort to combat domestic violence. Now, adding an additional pillar to the company's sense of corporate responsibility, the new Avon New York Headquarters paves the way for sustainability as it heads toward LEED Gold certification.

An Avon design committee worked with HOK Architects to renovate the office’s original 1950s building and ensure that it be as energy efficient and “green” as possible. Indoor air quality, recycled materials, water consumption, energy efficiency, construction waste management and regional materials were all important considerations in the project.

Builders used low-VOC paints and sealants, CRI carpeting, and tough sheet rock to prevent molding. Several ceilings are made from recycled newspaper and manufactured within 500 miles of Manhattan. The KINON wall panelings in several rooms were also sourced locally from Hillside, New Jersey, and the Corian counter tops make for highly durable surfaces. The floors offer a variety of walking surfaces. In some areas you find wood floors engineered with a thin layer of plywood followed by a thick wear layer on top that is very durable even under stilettos. In the more lounge-like areas, rugs custom made of wool and silk cover the floor. The shinier, white floors in many of the dining spaces are made of fused glass by ASI and are very resistant to scratches and general wear.

Keeping sustainability in mind, the Avon committee requested the building emit a sense of femininity, beauty and timelessness while feeling very open. Several hints of the trademark Avon magenta coloring pop up throughout the interior, and the art consultant made a conscious effort to be sure all the artwork on display is by women.

Not only does the artwork animate the space, the natural light flowing in through the windows is another key success of the new design. While many tall office buildings face problems with natural light, the new headquarters will not be keeping anyone in the dark. Nearly 96 percent of seated spaces have external views, and large windows allow for well-lit common spaces. With the health of employees in mind, there is a stairwell between all floors making it possible to get exercise during the day and reduce elevator use. A bicycle storage unit and showers on site also encourage employees to lessen their carbon footprint in their daily commute and get exercise outside the workplace.

As Avon is largely concerned with women, one particular request was made during the construction process: that 15 percent of the subcontracted workforce be women. Louise Matthews, the Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities, said that working with NEW made it possible to reach 17 percent without a hassle — the highest on record in New York City.

Although only one company, Avon’s Green Building Promise has a far reach. The company’s offices and distribution facilities worldwide comprise over 20 million square feet! The largest distribution facility can be found in Cabreuva, Brazil, is LEED Gold certified and was designed by Brazilian architect, Roberto Loeb. In Colombia, Avon’s distribution facility is the first building in the country to achieve LEED Gold certification, paving the way for others, and in Shanghai, their center has achieved LEED Platinum certification. The application to gain official LEED Gold certification for the New York headquarters has been submitted and is currently  being reviewed.

+ Avon + HOK Architects

All images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat


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