By Anne Cosgrove
Published in the January/February 2014 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
As senior director of facilities for Novo Nordisk, Ted Bielicky, CFM helped guide a project team through the thousands of decisions needed to bring his company’s new North American headquarters site to fruition. Located in Plainsboro, NJ, the 730,000 square foot facility was transformed inside and out to become a place where employees have the tools they need to excel in their work.
Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company focused on diabetes care, moved into its new headquarters in April 2013. The grand opening was the culmination of close to two years of construction that transformed a 1980s era office building into a state-of the-art facility that provides its 1,200 employees at the site a dynamic workplace. The building represents the latest strategies in planning, technology, and construction ultimately to deliver resources required for varied types of work—quiet concentration, small informal meetings, large formal meetings, and spaces for longer term projects.
Given the opportunity to create a new headquarters, Bielicky says, “A primary driver for me was to provide the opportunity for our employees to work in different environments. I’m also concerned with the younger and future generations and how they work; they don’t typically work in a structured environment.”
Meanwhile, the company’s triple bottom line philosophy to balance social contribution, environmental impact, and fiscal responsibility was integral to the project. As part of this, the project pursued LEED Silver for New Construction vs2.2 as well as Silver for Commercial Interiors v2009 (certification is pending). “We would have pursued many of the environmentally friendly strategies we used even if we weren’t pursuing LEED,” says Bielicky. “The three [aspects of triple bottom line] need to work in unison, and we worked very hard with this building to balance those things, especially as it relates to the environment,”
Bielicky joined Novo Nordisk in 2002, in his current position. As part of the human resources department, he leads all corporate strategic occupancy planning initiatives and facility operations and services in the United States. In addition to the Plainsboro facility, he is responsible for the company’s sales offices throughout the country.
Before joining Novo Nordisk, Bielicky had worked in facility management positions that included corporate strategic occupancy planning as well as overseeing administrative services, security, and property management. Many of his years of experience have been working in the pharmaceutical industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire’s Belknap College.
For his work on the Novo Nordisk headquarters facility, and for the impact his work has made on this company over the past decade, Bielicky is recognized as TFM’s 2014 Facility Executive of the Year.
Real Estate Realities
In 2011, Novo Nordisk occupied close to 400,000 square feet in four buildings around the Princeton, NJ area (several miles from Plainsboro). Bielicky worked with his real estate consultant and design firm to develop a strategy to consolidate the company’s office space. Their findings projected a need of nearly 800,000 square feet by 2020.
An initial consideration was to plan for new construction, but it was eventually determined this wasn’t the best course of action. A search began for suitable existing buildings, and ultimately the company embarked on a complete overhaul of the building it now occupies.
Bielicky negotiated lease terms with the property’s owners, resulting in a 15 year lease agreement with a 15 year renewal option. Novo Nordisk currently occupies 500,000 square feet, with the option to expand into the remaining 230,000 square feet as needed. “This allows us as a company to grow,” says Bielicky. “It allows us to focus on our business.”
Already Bielicky is planning to expand into another 70,000 square feet in the building. “We will probably fully occupy this facility in the next three years,” he says. “We’ve been growing since I’ve been with the company. So I’m constantly trying to make sure we have a seat for every employee, and I need to forecast that.”
Transforming the new facility began in earnest in July 2011. Completion was slated for April 2013, and to meet this deadline the team was designing and building concurrently. Acting as the project lead/manager, Bielicky and his facilities team collaborated with the IT, finance, and communications departments to ensure that all perspectives were considered and that employees were kept informed.
Granum A/I, based in Philadelphia, PA, was hired to provide architectural and interior design services. The firm (architect of record on the project) had worked with Bielicky previously. “They understand the Novo Nordisk way of doing business, and their insight was invaluable,” he notes.
The facility that the team envisioned was bright and modern, and its appearance in 2011 left much to be desired. Initially the company had even dismissed the building because of its outdated appearance. The exterior featured precast concrete panels and small darkened windows, and bold and dramatic changes were required.
The façade was completely removed and replaced with a new enclosure that combined glazed curtainwall with spandrel glass detailing at the floor and roof lines and metal panels with a zinc-like finish for a contemporary exterior. The new building envelope features 40% more glass than before, transforming dark hallways into interior balconies where occupants can look out to views of nature.
At the main entrance, a two story lobby was created by removing an existing mezzanine and moving the exterior wall out. Full height glass walls at both front and back define the new lobby, which houses live greenery, company literature, and various seating areas. Meanwhile, the entry drive was reconfigured to include a new turnaround and water feature.
Leading The Charge
Drawing on his knowledge of the company culture and employee needs, Bielicky challenged the status quo for office planning. The office wings are organized around multiple neighborhoods; this was a radical departure from plans in the company’s previous facilities, which had interior private offices and open space around the perimeter. “I looked for opportunities for our employees to work in different ways,” he explains.
Meanwhile, the sheer size of the building (a central hallway that runs the length of the building is a quarter mile long) spurred the creation of numerous gathering spaces throughout the facility. “We needed places where it would be convenient for employees to meet, but not necessarily in a traditional conference room,” explains Bielicky. “I was really looking to provide the opportunity to work in different ways. We even built a rooftop terrace with a barbecue and sinks, and this can be used for meetings, lunches, or simply to get some work done.”
To take advantage of the ample natural light that comes into the building, the interior space was organized for maximum access to windows and views. The workstations are low-horizon with glazed speech privacy panels at the top.
Three employee entrances are another highlight of the facility, one that Bielicky calls special attention to. Each entrance is central to a “pod”; each pod includes huddle rooms, project rooms, touch down spaces, and hoteling spaces. Just inside each of these entrances are a three story atrium and stairwell, which not only provide employees quick access to their workspaces but also serves as a gathering space. On each level, there is seating and technology to accommodate group work.
Says Bielicky, “Those atriums are spectacular. Previously those spaces were closed in and dark. Granum [A/I] was able to open those areas to bring in daylight. And the finishes we chose absorb enough sound that you are able to have a meeting in these areas. And we installed revolving doors in the employee entrances, so we don’t have a lot of heating or cooling loss as employees use their ID cards to enter.”
In his decision making process, Bielicky worked with the company’s global guidelines. These standards, not surprising for a company the size of Novo Nordisk, serve to simplify the procurement process for facility projects. Bielicky, who is part of the committee that creates the global guidelines, referred to the standards. However, ever mindful of providing the best environment for occupants, he didn’t shy away from straying from the guidelines if he saw a better option. One instance is the carpet used throughout the headquarters.
“The [global guidelines] indicated we should install a single color carpet throughout the building,” explains Bielicky. “I wanted the carpet to be a bit more interesting, visually, than what the existing spec said, so I presented a textured pattern to my COO, and he agreed that it would be a good fit. The carpet I chose does mask any dirt and debris that people track in, and it’s a more appealing design.”
Triple Bottom Line
The company’s drive to reduce environmental impact along with the pursuit of LEED certification was put into practice in numerous areas, from construction through operations. “Throughout this project, we were consciously and continually looking for opportunities,” says Bielicky.
During construction 95% of building materials was recycled. Carpet removed from the building was recycled, and materials from furniture installation was also recycled.
In selecting items to be installed in the facility, Bielicky specified natural fabrics, granite, and sustainable wood. Low flow toilets and sinks are installed in restrooms as well as water saving showers in the fitness center. And all equipment is Energy Star Rated.
Energy efficient fluorescent lighting operates in a majority of the facility, but Bielicky has made a foray into the use of LED lighting. “We used LEDs a lot, especially in the hallways where the lights are on all the time,” he says. “We also installed them in the lower level of our parking garage. I paid a lot of money to have that done, but I paid it off it four months. Now that the price of LEDs are coming down, we’re doing more.”
The facility is powered by wind power through the purchase of renewable energy credits. On the horizon is the installation of a solar photovoltaic array over the entire parking lot. “Once complete, it will be the largest parking lot solar field in North America,” says Bielicky. The project is expected to be in place in about a year and half. The company will then use the solar array as its main source of energy.
In his role, Bielicky’s main focus is employee productivity and satisfaction. Reflecting on the project, a mammoth undertaking considering the less than two year timeline, Bielicky is proud to share the numerous and diverse resources now available to his fellow employees. “Novo Nordisk is very employee centric, and this gives me the opportunity to be creative in addressing their needs. I’m lucky to be working for a human resources department that understands the impact of providing employees an environment where they can succeed.”
As all facility managers know, promoting this type of success involves ensuring a building operates smoothly behind the scenes as well. “Yes, my team and I also are responsible for making sure the lights are on, the HVAC is working, and the building is clean. We also oversee security and our fleet of 5,000 cars. I can’t say that I do it all. Mike Wade, my associate director, and the rest of the facilities staff help me. I’m the guy looking ahead… what’s the next step?” He notes that trade publications, industry conferences, and suppliers (especially furniture companies) are helpful resources.
Whether working on a once in a lifetime project like a new headquarters facility or choosing a supplier for the next lighting retrofit, Ted Bielicky has his finger on the pulse of his customers, the employees of Novo Nordisk.
This article was based on Bielicky’s nomination form and supplemented with an on-site interview with Bielicky. To see a sample entry from a past winner, click this link to download a pdf.
The nominations are open for next year’s Facility Executive of the Year award. For more details and to view the nomination form, visit this link.
Read about other FEY winners here:
2013: J.B. Messer
2012: Robert Wengel
2011: Todd Finders
2010: David Lenart
2009: Jim Driessen
2008: Neal Angrisano
2007: William Coleman
2006: Stu Carron
2005: Ward Komorowski
2004: Charles “Chuck” Ayoub
2003: Kelly Olds