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The CenturyLink Campus
Landscape Architecture by EDGE


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CenturyLink headquarters is on 77 acres in Monroe, Louisiana, which is bordered on the east side by the sweeping curve of Bayou DeSiard (also pictured in inset), which in turn is adjacent to the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (see p. 66), the bayou originally formed the lower end of a channel of the Arkansas River, however, construction of the Ouachita River Levee System in 1935 separated Bayou DeSiard from the Ouachita River. Bayou DeSiard is the primary source of water for the city of Monroe (pop. 48,815).
Photo Credits: Groove Jones/ View, Inc. (below) and (C) Brad Feinknopf/ OTTO (inset)


In a booming technology economy, recruiting and retaining the best available talent has become an indispensable corporate tool. When deciding where to continue their careers, today's tech workforce is looking for the right fit, which might include a corporate campus with a diverse set of employee amenities.

The corporate campus, a featured selling point for most tech companies, has evolved from the gardenesque landscape to a company environment offering a wide variety of opportunities for work ... and play.

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Custom cylindrical metal sculptures, abstract representations of bald cypress "knees" (a distinctive form above the roots of cypress trees in swamps), are placed in the bottom of the blue ceramic tiled pools. Vertical jet fountains emerge from inside the cylinders and are programmed to jump in random sequences and display variable light affects.
Credit: (C) Brad Feinknopf/ OTTO


CenturyLink is an S&P 500 telecommunications company providing broadband internet, television and telephone services in 37 states. The company headquarters is situated on 77 acres in Monroe, Louisiana, which includes an old pecan grove and frontage along Bayou Desiard, which is adjacent to Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge Black Bayou Lake. The area is surrounded by cypress and tupelo trees and swamps that transition to bottomland hardwoods and then into an upland mix of pines and hardwoods.

With CenturyLink experiencing significant growth, nearly 18 billion in revenue in 2015, the company needed to expand the campus and build new facilities. The goal was to create an inspiring world-class research and development hub, a kind of collaborative "work anywhere" campus, while preserving natural resources.

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Two promenades and 11 pools bordered by overhanging walkways intersect the courtyard. The green roof plantings are a mix of sedums, grasses and wildflowers.


The campus planners and landscape architects at EDGE worked with the architects at Moody Nolan and a diverse team of consultants to evaluate the spatial impacts of future growth and make recommendations for new construction that would minimize the environmental footprint of the new development. The final plan created a home for a new 300,000 square foot Technology Center of Excellence, a supporting parking structure and mechanical building, while preserving the natural features of the site and establishing a strong connection to the existing headquarters building.

Technology Center Courtyard
The focal point of the site is a new 2.2-acre courtyard situated between the office building and the new Technology Center. The design goals of the courtyard were to create a comfortable environment with a strong experiential quality, provide multiple spaces with varied character, and use the outdoor environment to help connect the two buildings.

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The landscape architect notes that while timber from the pecan forest (see page 70), which surrounds the facility, was used for some building interiors, it was cost prohibitive to use for the extensive boardwalks. Ipe was used instead to create the boardwalk connections between the two buildings and to link courtyard spaces. Southern Aquatics of Ponte Vedra, Fla., constructed the campus fountains. Bald cypress trees, a deciduous conifer that thrives in the humid and sodden soils of the bayou, are planted on the islands within the rectangular pools.
Photo Credit: (C) Brad Feinknopf/ OTTO


Elements or forms of the pecan grove, bayou and the radial Technology Center serve as converging themes that establish the framework and subspaces of the courtyard. The rhythmic form of the grove works its way across the courtyard, overlapping with the structural grid of the existing building and extending out to define the primary circulation and overall layout of the space. A ribbon of grasses, referred to as the "Bayou Band," weaves its way through the courtyard, interrupting the regular geometry of the grid to bring in the naturalized edge of the bayou. Finally, the broad curve of the Technology Center establishes an inviting edge to the semi-enclosed courtyard, and peels away to embrace the existing headquarters through a sloped canopy and architectural landform.

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The courtyard promenade is paved with 'Traditional Prest Brick' (Hanover) with a 3/16" beveled edge. A band of Bayou grasses weave along the edge of the turf and symbolically cross the walk, which is represented by a darker color paver band that interrupts the regular geometry of the paver grid. Shielded pole-top luminaires with metal halide lamps light the way.


Courtyard Subspaces
Promenades and Boardwalks
Two promenade walkways establish the primary pedestrian circulation through the courtyard. These unit paver walks provide a link between major corridors of the two buildings and connect the Technology Center lobby to the courtyard and bayou. Hardwood boardwalks create secondary connections between the two buildings, and link spaces within the courtyard.

Pools and Fountains
Eleven pools deliver a striking entry experience and expand out through the heart of the courtyard. Designed as a visual reference to the nearby bayou, the pools follow the regular geometry of the grid in order to merge the structured corporate vocabulary with the natural element of water. The pools are bordered by overhanging walkways to produce a user experience reminiscent of floating over or passing through the visually interconnected features. In addition to the dark bottomed reflective pools, the water basins include features that respond to their adjacent functional spaces. At the main vestibule of the Technology Center, a series of low cascading jet fountains spray a constant flow of water and provide white noise for visitors entering the facility. Marching down the center of the courtyard, islands of bald cypress trees humanize the scale of the space and reference the plant palette of the bayou. Along the connecting promenade, plume jet fountains jump horizontally along the path, following pedestrians as they traverse between the two buildings. Finally, the Bayou Band creates moments of interaction as it crosses through the north courtyard pools. Within these zones, custom cylindrical metal sculptures are placed as an abstracted reference to bald cypress knees found within the bayou. Blue ceramic tile delineates the Bayou Band at the pool bottoms, and vertical jet fountains emerge from inside the cypress knee cylinders. The fountains are programmed to jump around in random sequences, with variable light displays that highlight the features during the morning and evening hours.

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Old pecan groves surround the company headquarters. To make room for the new facility, 80 trees were felled, but milled into 20,000 sq. ft. of lumber and used for paneling, flooring and counter tops in the building. A new tree was planted for each one removed.


The Plaza
The main plaza functions as the primary pedestrian space of the courtyard. Designed to accommodate events, collaborative group meetings, outdoor dining and mobile work stations, the granite-infused paver surface matches the pattern and scale of the adjacent interior space, and follows the curve of the Technology Center along its main atrium to the building's cafeteria. The band of feather reed grass defines the interior courtyard edge of the plaza, creating intimate pockets for seating. Speakers, Wi-Fi access and a variety of furniture options are located throughout the courtyard to make a functional employee workspace and encourage daily interaction.

Elm Grove and Architectural Landform
While the active zones of the courtyard are strategically located adjacent to the new Technology Center, the opposite half includes passive-use opportunities. A grove of Princeton elms produces a shady micro-climate along the connector promenade. Sculptural wood benches and fiber-optic-inspired light bollards are positioned throughout the canopied space to provide casual seating and visual interest during non-daylight hours. The architectural landform, planted with sedum, conceals the fountain equipment room and visually grounds the radial Technology Center canopy into the site. Precast concrete curbing emphasizes the mound's form and a wood slat bench wraps around its northeast corner to create additional seating opportunities near the pools and the courtyard's main open lawn.

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An arching row of illuminated bollards line the walk to the Technology Center's main vestibule, mimicking the curving symmetry of the low jet fountains, which spray a constant flow of water to provide white noise.


Sustainability Highlights:
• Accredited LEED Silver by USGBC
• Preserved over 10 acres of the pecan grove
• Removed pecan trees were harvested and locally milled to produce paneling and flooring for the Technology Center • Stormwater management features that went above and beyond regulatory requirements, including a biodetention basin that filters run-off from most of the courtyard and Technology Center and gravel filtration drains underneath all boardwalk walkways
• Vegetated roof along Technology Center canopy roof
• Minimized parking footprint (garage) and low SRI values for all paving materials
• Maximized pervious open space

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About EDGE
Established in 2003, EDGE is an integrated team of planners, landscape architects and development consultants with offices in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee. EDGE provides economically, socially, and environmentally impactful solutions for corporate and academic campuses across the country.

Project Team
Client: CenturyLink
Landscape Architects: EDGE
Architects: Moody Nolan
(CenturyLink Technology Center of Excellence)
Civil Engineers: Morphy Makofsky
Lighting Consultant: Tec Studio
Pool/Fountain Consultant: SAI Fountains
Construction Manager: Yates Construction
Landscape Contractor: RCI: Garden Design

Manufacturers
Promenade pavers: Hanover Traditional Prest Brick
Bayou Band: Unilock Courtstone paver
Plaza paver: Wausau Tile Tectura granite UG-10
Plaza tables: Janus et Cie



As seen in LASN magazine, June 2017.






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Last Updated 08-16-17