In 2018, Winter Construction, Inc., tied for Master Builder of the Year in Star Building System’s annual awards presentation. Halo Branded Solutions, located in Sterling, Illinois, won the honor for Winter Construction, by taking into consideration the use of materials, pre-engineered system design, and final outcome.
Combining two building locations onto a new site, the single-story Halo Branded Solutions headquarters houses approximately 500 employees in an open office environment separated by different ceiling heights and freestanding structures such as conference rooms. Using long bay truss purlins by Star Building Systems to create the structure, Winter Construction was able to complete the 157,000 square foot facility in twelve months.
Designing and building the structure on such a tight schedule came with plenty of complications. For one, Halo’s headquarters needed to house 90,000 square feet of warehoused products alongside staff amenities such as a cafeteria, conference rooms, over 30 private offices, and open cubicle seating to maximize efficient layout. On the original site, the warehouse and offices were housed in separate buildings. Integrating the two into a single building required unique detailing to accommodate the differing heights required by each.
“There is always careful detailing in [combining] the different systems together for water tightness,” said Scott Winter, AIA LEED AP, vice-president of Design Build Services for Winter Construction. “The larger warehouse used a standing seam metal roof and the office used a more conventional membrane flat roof. The transitions between the materials had to be carefully planned out, but it wasn’t a problem working with Star.”
Working with Star and Halo employees to design the headquarters, Winter Construction–a design build company that has been working with pre-fabricated structures since the early 1980s–was able to integrate multiple Star systems to create an all-in-one corporate office and warehouse. Carefully combining the systems to maintain an optimum environmental barrier, the result was an airy, comfortable space that was completed faster and more cost-effective than traditional construction.
When working on a project, Winter’s team takes speed and cost into consideration.
For the Halo headquarters, both were integral to the design and engineering alongside the specific needs of the space: integrating two uses, warehousing and administrative offices, into one locale.
“The sequencing of ordering a pre-engineered building lends itself to fast-tracking,” Winter explained. “You can do the site work and set the foundation while you’re still engineering the structure. [Pre-engineered] allows you to condense at least several months of design and engineering.”
He continued, “We’re a design-build company, so we’re always looking for ways that we can condense the schedule.”
Readying the site and working on the design simultaneously allowed Winter Construction to shave weeks off of the build time.
Speed of design and building is more than just a perk of pre-engineered buildings; however, lessening the man-hours on a project is cost effective as well. Speed and precision allowed the Halo headquarters to be designed and built using less billable hours on top of the savings produced by optimizing the structure via Star’s proprietary building software. In turn, fewer materials were needed to complete the building, saving tons of steel and detailing products.
Winter was quick to point out that the designing and engineering involved in the Halo headquarters was a team effort, combining the design-build capabilities of Winter Construction with the vision, needs, and branding of Halo and the technical know-how of Star Building Systems.
“For us, it’s a separation of duties,” he said. “The pre-engineered company [in this case, Star Building Systems] becomes an extension of our design team; they’re a partner in [the project].” As a design-builder, Winter contracts out aspects of the design, such as the structural engineering and mechanicals. Bringing Star into the project creates a partnership where Star’s expert engineers work as part of the team providing valuable and necessary insights into the best means of engineering a structure.
Nixing the Expected
When it came to the Halo headquarters, pre-engineered systems were vital for optimal speed, cost, and engineering, but there is always the concern pre-engineered means the building will end up looking cookie-cutter and industrial.
However, Winter says their designs end up looking as original and complex as traditional-construction builds for a variety of needs from car dealerships to credit unions and even a new brewery in Freeport, Illinois. “People get apprehensive about [pre-engineered], so we’re creative in how we clad the buildings.”
For the Halo headquarters, the exterior was clad in wood-tone and white metal panels from Longboard and Reynobond respectively.
Using pre-engineered systems to create the office and warehouse ensured the headquarters were protected against the elements and structurally sound while additional materials give the building a contemporary look.
Breaking out of the metal facade–despite being a popular aesthetic–was necessary as the Halo headquarters was designed with health and wellness in mind. In particular, the open office was built with plenty of natural light via skylights and solar tubes scattered throughout the ceiling 13 feet overhead. Perimeter windows, diminishing the amount of glare from overhead lights, which causes eye strain, provide employees with day-lighting when available.
“[The objective] was to make this big open room–because [open-office] is most cost-effective–feel comfortable to a single person sitting in their 7 [foot]-by-7 [foot] cubical.”
When asked what was the biggest surprise in the construction of the Halo Branded Solution headquarters was the outcome. For the 500 or so employees who have relocated to the new building, the headquarters has continued to make the individual feel comfortable in the open-office layout.
“It’s always expected to be a positive outcome,” explained Winter, “but [the positive reaction to the Halo headquarters] was really more than we could have imagined.”