Among the Trees

As LPL Financial builds its stunning regional headquarters in a particularly verdant sector of Fort Mill, SC, employee health and well-being will be at the core of its design

When some of LPL Financial’s workers move into the company’s new campus in Fort Mill, South Carolina, in 2016, the incurious among them might simply feel they’ve stepped into a standard workplace surrounded by a pleasant, natural environment. But, the employees and guests who stop for even a moment to contemplate what’s going on outside and in the campus buildings will realize that the office development is an incisively planned, multidimensional interplay of people, history, habitat, sunshine, building mechanicals, and clean resources.

Overhangs, shelves, and building orientation will minimize solar radiation in the site’s humid, subtropical climate, where morethan-80-degree Fahrenheit temperatures are the norm five months out of the year.
Overhangs, shelves, and building orientation will minimize solar radiation in the site’s humid, subtropical climate, where morethan-80-degree Fahrenheit temperatures are the norm five months out of the year.
A network of trails, sports facilities, and other active sites (including one for outdoor yoga) will greatly expand the concept of corporate health.
A network of trails, sports facilities, and other active sites (including one for outdoor yoga) will greatly expand the concept of corporate health.
Office workers will have a 10-minutes-or-less walk to the Anne Springs Close Greenway, Kingsley Town Center, and Lake Patricia. These sites form a triangle, inside which the new campus will be located.
Office workers will have a 10-minutes-or-less walk to the Anne Springs Close Greenway, Kingsley Town Center, and Lake Patricia. These sites form a triangle, inside which the new campus will be located.

In the realm of modern workplaces, Boston-based LPL Financial has already begun establishing itself as a green company that also provides a great deal of amenities to its employees. The company’s 13-story, 415,000-square-foot regional headquarters in San Diego, opened in 2014, is thought to be the largest net-zero commercial building in the United States. Housing more than 1,600 employees, it has some of the most sophisticated green technologies and practices found in contemporary American workplaces: fuel-cell biogas-conversion electricity, on-site recycled water, and employee-focused sustainability programs that involve recycling and carpooling. The San Diego facility also places an emphasis on employee health and satisfaction through the use of ergonomic furniture and underfloor air distribution with per-workstation comfort controls.

This same attention to employee well-being has strongly influenced preliminary planning for the Fort Mill campus, which might be able to one-up its sister office on the West Coast thanks to its prime natural location. “We selected this [Fort Mill] site because the landowner and developer understood and supported our concerns for sustainability,” says Sara Nomellini, senior vice president of corporate real estate for LPL Financial. “I actually had to sell them on how we would be a worthy organization to move into the neighborhood.”

And what a neighborhood it is. LPL Financial’s new buildings will sit between a 2,100-acre nature preserve and recreational facility and a village commons-style commercial area called Kingsley Town Center, which will have approximately 200,000–250,000 square feet of mixed-use retail space..

When LPL Financial’s employees move in, they’ll be able to take a 600-foot walking path to grab lunch and complete other errands. Others, those seeking a moment’s respite from the world of high-tech finance, can just as easily walk to the nature preserve, the Anne Springs Close Greenway, on the other side of the campus. The greenway is held by a land trust under a conservation easement, and it’s a mecca of environmental stewardship. Leroy Springs & Company, a textile manufacturer formerly located in the area, created the recreational and educational facility as a perk for its 20,000-person workforce. The company eventually moved offshore, but the greenway remains intact and operating.

It’s land with a legacy, Nomellini explains. “We want our employees to appreciate [that] they are in a special place,” she says. Given the wealth of greenery that will envelop them, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t.