GCCA Has a New Home

For years, GCCA headquarters was housed in a building that had once been a Coca Cola bottling plant. With investment diversification in mind, the association purchased the building in 2002 for $600,000. It proved to be a wise investment: The refurbished Coke plant is now valued at $1.4 million.

Location, Location, Location
GCCA President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch explains that with staff crowded into hallways, it had been clear for some time that the association had outgrown its space in Alexandria, Virginia, and it was time to move. At the same time, commercial real estate trends in the Washington, DC area had created a glut of office space in a very desirable business community near the Pentagon known as Crystal City. It was such an attractive renters’ market, Rosenbusch decided that rather than sell the GCCA building in Alexandria – which was all but paid off and appreciating at a healthy rate – they would use its future rental income to lease office space in Crystal City. “That’s when the fun began,” recalls Rosenbusch.“We settled on the fourth property we looked at because we were offered such an incredible deal and it met all of the objectives we were looking for in our new home.” Rosenbusch negotiated to double the association’s existing space from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet, receive an $80-per-square-foot allowance to build out the space according to GCCA specifications, and occupy the space free of charge for the first 12 months. “We found the perfect situation because we were able to double the amount of space for staff while barely increasing our financial outlay after rental income from our old property,” Rosenbusch explains. “And it puts us closer to lawmakers and the regulatory agencies we work with in Washington, DC, which was one of our top priorities because of the increased amount of advocacy work we’re doing.” Another benefit of the new space: It’s a great human resource recruiting and retention tool in a very tight job market. “Our old cramped building was just not an attractive space for our young staff to work in,” Rosenbusch says. “In our new space we adopted the open office plan made famous by high-tech companies to foster collaboration and creativity and that’s so popular with younger workers now. So most of the staff occupy a large centrally located space surrounded by windows and flooded by natural light with views of the Potomac River.” Adding to its appeal, the building is located close to a Metro train stop and features an underground mall just an elevator ride away from the GCCA office where staff can grab coffee or lunch. A section of the concrete apron that surrounds the building has been converted into a cafe-like indoor/outdoor meeting spot with tropical plants and cozy seating for the building’s tenants and their guests. Another positive aspect of the location for staff, many of who travel constantly on GCCA business, is that it is literally walking distance from the airport. “As it turns out, being located next to the airport is a plus for GCCA members as well,” Rosenbusch notes. “We hadn’t even unpacked when we were contacted by an IARW member who wanted to know if they could borrow our conference room as they had folks flying in from different locations for a strategy planning meeting and the airport doesn’t provide meeting space.”

Telling the Story
As you enter the new GCCA space, the first thing you notice is that the reception area does not look like your typical Washington trade association office. In fact, it looks more like a temperature-controlled storage facility. The front panel of the receptionist’s desk is lined with refrigeration coils, the wall behind the desk is constructed out of insulted thermal panels, and the door to the utility/ coat room around the corner is accessed through a replica of a 100-year-old wooden freezer door complete with a spring-loaded, walk-in freezer door handle. Tony Maher, a Partner in the architectural firm EMA, who designed the new headquarters, says, “You can’t work in 30 degrees below zero, but you can incorporate other elements typically encountered in cold space buildings. We took parts and pieces of iconic components and used them in an artistic way to showcase what GCCA is all about.” “We came up with this creative solution to ask members to donate temperature-controlled building materials that would help us tell our story and promote our industry,” Rosenbusch adds. “It’s more important than ever in our advocacy work, and we have an increasing number of visitors from international cold storage groups and partner associations. And, it saved us money.” In addition to the refrigeration coils donated by Evapco, Metl-Span supplied the insulated panels that appear not only in the reception area, but are used as office walls and to box in almost every corner of the office space, adding to the cutting-edge industrial vibe. Jamison donated its 100th anniversary replica wooden freezer door behind reception plus all the doors to offices, in the conference room they provided a custom high-speed fabric-and-steel roll-up door that separates a conference room from the kitchen. The 16-by-8-foot door had to be lifted up to the sixth floor offices by crane and brought in through a window. And finally, Frazier contributed wooden pallets and pallet racking that were modified to decoratively cover key walls from floor to ceiling. But perhaps the best feature that tells the story of cold storage was one of the last to be conceived and installed. “We created a giant 8.5 feet high by 65 feet long wall mural that winds its way through the space depicting the history of PRWs,” Maher says. “It begins with ice chopped out of frozen lakes to be stored all the way to depicting the interconnectivity of the modern global food supply chain and the worldwide influence that GCCA has today.” Maher says the ideas for the mural scenes came from GCCA’s vast photo archives with Rosenbusch in the role of creative director. "We are just thrilled with the whole project,” Maher says. “GCCA was a great client, very open to ideas with Corey playing a major role in all aspects of the design. He would push ideas further, and we’d say sure – he was definitely an inspiration.” “For me, after 13 years with GCCA, our new space makes me feel like I have a new job,” Rosenbusch declares. “We met our objectives of being fiscally responsible, facilitating our advocacy work, creating space to grow, telling our industry’s story, and it’s been a real boost for the staff. This is a space I’m so proud to share with our visitors.”