Like anything it does, when The Connor Group decided to build a new Central Support Office building, it set clear expectations. And it set them high.
“We told all the architects that we met with that this project would win awards and be something nobody’s ever done before,” said VP of capital Chris Mullins. “The ones that said ‘we’ll try,’ they didn’t make the cut.”
Even before ground was broken on the new building, Goal No. 1 was accomplished. In August of 2012 the Chicago Athenaeum awarded it an American Architecture Award. The winners – which came from across the U.S., China, India, Saudi Arabia, France and Switzerland, among others – became part of a traveling international exhibition.
The building, designed in partnership between Mullins, managing partner Larry Connor and nationally-renowned architecture firm Moody-Nolan, will be a one-of-a-kind structure. In both form and function it will be — like the company that occupies it — totally unique.
“We want it to be a place that makes people excited to come to work,” Larry said. “Like everything else, we want it to be the best and we want it to be innovative. The building has to represent that.”
The two-story building is being constructed on a 10-acre piece of land at Wright Brothers Airport in Miami Township, Ohio. It will cost approximately $17 million, consist of 39,000 square feet — about two-and-a-half times the size of the current central office — and should be completed in 2014 by Messer Construction. The building will utilize the newest green technology. Its exterior will feature a brushed aluminum façade. Instead of traditional glass and shades, all exterior openings (5,741 square feet of windows and a 2,740-square-foot skylight) will consist of Soladigm’s Dynamic Glass, which switches from clear to several tint levels based on the amount of sunlight. All offices will have at least two walls made entirely of glass.
The two-story atrium measures 3,495 square feet. It was designed to serve as a large gathering space and to increase access to natural light.
The building will feature state-of-the-art offices and meeting spaces. Other amenities include an outdoor running/walking trail and workout and training facilities.
At the September groundbreaking ceremony, Dayton mayor Gary Leitzell said the building represented “history being made.”
Moody-Nolan CEO Curt Moody called it an “iconic statement” and “a jewel for all of Ohio.” Before planning began, there was a chance the company’s new home wasn’t even going to be in the Buckeye State. Larry said he contemplated a move out-of-state, possibly to North Carolina. But after talking to associates, he decided to invest in the Dayton area.
“Quite frankly, the area could use a win,” he said. “And we’re going to prove that Dayton can be a center for innovation and technology.”
Larry said although he’s wanted to build this kind of office for years, now was the right time. When the piece of land, owned by the city of Dayton, became available for lease, we made a proposal that resulted in a 40-year lease with a 10-year renewal option.
“Right now, building costs are very good; financing is very good,” Larry said. That meant design meetings were free-thinking brainstorming sessions. No idea was too outrageous.
Mullins said the process has been incredibly rewarding.
“It’s the coolest project I’ve ever been involved in,” he said. “I’m going to get to drive by one of the most innovative buildings in the Midwest and know I was involved in it from beginning to end.”