A DOSE OF “VITAMIN N” AT TAUCK TOURS’ NEW HQ
The year was 1925, when entrepreneur Arthur Tauck took a group of friends on a tour of the back roads of New England. More than 90 years later and his commitment to helping people experience the outdoors continues, both through Tauck Tours’ business and now its new corporate headquarters.
A natural connection
Nestled within 60 wooded acres in Wilton, Connecticut, the 55,000sf office centers on what Tauck considers the most nourishing ingredient to a healthy workplace: “Vitamin N” (aka, nature). With its lodge-like setting—complete with large stone fireplaces and wood features at every turn—the building gives employees the feeling that they are actually in a vacation property, conveying the sense of calm and comfort they bring to their customers.
The “Lodge” offers views of the surrounding woodsy campus
Designed by Perkins Eastman, the space draws from the values Tauck has embraced since the company’s founding: wellness, collaboration, heritage and nature. The glass exterior and office walls allow light to fill the working spaces, and the interior design elements focus on the colors of autumn leaves and earthy textures. With eight different terraces and access to nature trails, employees are encouraged to take in all the “Vitamin N” they can. In fact, to celebrate the new space, the company bought each employee a new pair of trail running shoes and built a special cubby into each desk to store them.
Leaving no trace
While the new office certainly radiates the history and legacy of the Tauck brand, modern comfort and functionality was still central to the office design. As such, integrating the needs of a modern office into this serene, natural setting—without disrupting it—did come with some challenges.
“There were a lot of systems to fit into very limited space,’’ says Robert Jaus, Pavarini Northeast’s superintendent for the project. “The space above the ceiling is packed with MEP equipment, so we needed to have some very detailed coordination drawings to ensure everything would fit together.”
Jaus and his team started with the HVAC contractor. The existing steel beams had slotted holes that drove the locations for where the ductwork had to be installed. They sent those drawings to the sprinkler fitter, who fit that system in around the HVAC. Then came the electrician, and finally the plumber. “The penetrations in the structural steel really drove where everything could go. So it was important that we took a very organized approach to both locating and phasing the addition of each service.”
Even the conference rooms offer a glimpse of the outdoors
Dealing with data
Building out the office’s data center and UPS room posed a similar space crunch. Given the specialized use of that space, the data center’s design included both a pre-action sprinkler system and a gaseous fire suppression system, meaning twice the amount of fire suppression equipment occupied utility corridor spaces. What’s more, as construction began, the team realized the electrical panels were much larger than anticipated and wouldn’t fit into the UPS room and data center as designed. “We had to work hand-in-hand with our electrician and the engineer in almost a design/build situation to redesign the UPS room so that all the gear would fit,” says Jaus.
The limited space options for data center services also affected the role of the central double-sided fireplace in the office’s “living room” area. The fireplace is just above the data center, making it an ideal chase for the data conduit that feeds the entire office. However, the fireplace’s free-floating design left little room on either side, making adding the conduit a tight fit. “There really wasn’t any other space we could sacrifice for the conduit, so we worked with Tauck’s IT team to drill some pilot holes within the fireplace and test this solution—and it worked,” says Jaus.
Now with all systems go, Tauck employees are getting their daily dose of “Vitamin N” in a modern work environment that reflects exactly what a travel company strives for. “It really does make you feel like you are in a different place,” says Jaus.
Client: Tauck Tours
Architect: Perkins Eastman
Engineer: Southport Engineering
STO Services: Construction Management
Completion: January 2016
Photography by Connie Zhou.