Orlando, Fla. Darden Restaurants celebrated the opening of its new Restaurant Support Center, which was designed to achieve Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction (NC) from the United States Green Building Council. Upon final certification, it will become the largest LEED Gold NC building in Florida.
Darden’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in the many sustainable design and construction elements found throughout the three-story, 469,000-sq.-ft. facility. Among them:
Darden partnered with developer Trammell Crow Co., architectural firm Perkins+Will and general contractor Hardin Construction to create an open environment that promotes greater collaboration, idea sharing and innovation.
For instance, the building was designed not to exceed three stories in height to allow employees to move easily between floors using multiple staircases. The staircases were also widened to allow for impromptu conversations without blocking the movement of others. And each of the development kitchens for Darden’s six restaurant brands is located adjacent to one another, allowing culinary staff to easily interact and share ideas.
“Beyond creating an environment that allows our employees to develop stronger working relationships and deliver even higher levels of support to our restaurants, we were committed to ensuring our employees had input and involvement in shaping the development of this project,” said Drew Madsen, president and COO of Darden. “We’re proud of the fact that many of the amenities found in our new home were the ones most requested by our employees.”
Amenities include a 5,000-sq.-ft. fitness center and a wellness center, both staffed by Florida Hospital; an on-campus dining facility; a 1/2-mile walking trail; and an on-site financial services center operated by Wachovia.
The facility, situated on a 57-acre campus, will house 1,300 employees who provide support to nearly 1,800 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 restaurants throughout North America. Within its new RSC, Darden will bring together all of its support-center personnel under one roof for the first time. Previously, employees worked in 12 different buildings spread across a two-mile radius