The United Way for Southeastern Michigan Headquarters / SmithGroupJJR

  • 15 Jan 2013
  • Institutional Architecture Selected Works
Courtesy of

Architects: SmithGroupJJR
Location: Detroit, MI, USA
Area: 4,366 sqm
Year: 2009
Photographs: Courtesy of SmithGroupJJR

Courtesy of SmithGroupJJR

The United Way for Southeastern relocated its Detroit headquarters into the historic 1st National Building in downtown Detroit. In its desire to provide a fresh workplace experience for its 130 employees, SmithGroupJJR worked with UWSEM to create a new home that resulted in the ultimate flexible, creative and collaborative workplace environment. Unlike any other office space in the area, the UWSEM headquarters more closely resembles your local Starbucks than a traditional corporate facility.

Courtesy of SmithGroupJJR

Due in part to the high percentage of time that personnel spend outside the office combined with a desire to pursue LEED certification and reduce unneeded material usage, UWSEM concluded that permanently assigned workstations did not need to be provided for all staff. During the programming process, we determined that the original space requirement could be reduced by roughly 25% through the introduction of “hotel” and “touch down” spaces in concert with traditional “embedded” work spaces. Given that a great deal of staff time was spent working in a team setting, the program included a wide array of collaborative work spaces. Given the amount of time spent in these settings, the team concluded that the traditional workstation could be reduced in size by approximately 30%, resulting in further space reductions.

Courtesy of SmithGroupJJR

Now complete, the 47,000 gsf headquarters does not contain enclosed offices and establishes a completely new paradigm for the corporate headquarters.


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Cite: "The United Way for Southeastern Michigan Headquarters / SmithGroupJJR" 15 Jan 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • jpk

    love the floor on the first pic..what ist it?

  • Ashley

    The floor is the original concrete. Due to a tight budget, many of the existing finishes/building materials were reused. It’s really a great space.

  • http://RS RS

    Doesn’t look much like my local Starbucks, good thing too!