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Building or Billboard? How a well-designed space can speak for itself.
Acxiom builds and maintains some of the largest databases in the world. As the global leader in real-time customer data integration, this Little Rock giant processes more than one billion records a day. Acxiom is integral partners with nearly all the top credit card issuers, retail banks, insurers and automakers-yet it maintains an uncharacteristic low profile for a corporation with such influence. And while its corporate customers like it that way, Acxiom decided it was time to step up its home town presence. Touted by Fortune as one of the best places to work, Acxiom has always believed that a good work environment translates into better production. Its new building in the River Market District is no exception.
When Acxiom decided to "see and be seen," the corporation hired architecture firm Polk, Stanley, Rowland and Yeary. Reese Rowland was the lead architect. The goal was to establish an awareness of Acxiom's presence-its desire to participate as a key player in the renaissance of downtown Little Rock. The new 12-story building at the main entrance to downtown uses the building as a "message board." Its prominent location visually asserts the corporation's leadership and displays "Acxiom at work" through an unconventional blend of interior and exterior design.
Reese explains his approach: "Outside you have the movement of the river, the trees, the traffic, and the people on the street,. Inside you see the literal movement of information through the action of the employees. The dynamic nature of the company is on display for all to see."
Meeting rooms were purposely placed on lower floors with the conference center at street level. Offices, break rooms and corridors were given the upper decks for visibility both inside and out.
It was important for Reese to have both the exterior and interiors complement each other through the use of similar architectural elements-natural wood, stone, aluminum and glass. He envisioned a style that was contemporary, yet warm. The furniture needed to be an aesthetic match, but also an integral part of expressing Acxiom's core business. When technology changes, Acxiom changes, and so does its furniture. So, to Reese, it was necessary that any investment made in furniture be "future proof."
Although Today's Office had built a strong relationship with Acxiom for many years, the size of the project dictated a bid and mock up process between four manufacturers. Key criteria included products delivering both form and function, particularly as it related to data. An efficient footprint was mandatory in order for Acxiom to maximize their space. Services-especially the ability to aid Acxiom with asset management-gave Today's Office an advantage since its team was currently managing established standards and inventory. An attractive leasing package through Steelcase Financial helped Acxiom minimize the effect on its balance sheet. Ultimately, Today's Office won the contract.
Desi Beers is the account representative for Today's Office, and she feels that proven reliability was a big part of Acxiom's decision.
"We are very familiar with the expectations of this client," she said. "We know their needs. We also have a successful history of managing their projects. Blending existing product with new product is complex and Acxiom knew we would perform."
Weekly construction meetings were held throughout the project time line to assure clear communication. Product and finish binders were assembled for every area. As a result, there were few speed bumps. Reese appreciated the approach Today's Office took when dealing with his firm.
"They bent over backwards to be sure our design statement was supported with their products," he said. "They massaged our block plan and made it work. Today's was as critical as I was when it came to image and fit with the architecture."
In the summer of 2003, the new Acxiom location opened its doors. Its distinctive design is a testimony to great architecture-an expression captured. A true reflection of corporate identity. A display of the dynamic nature of Acxiom's business. A building that speaks volumes.