The Corporate Financial Center Building (GE Building) was developed by the Big Sky Economic Development Authority (EDA) on 7.5 acres of EDA-owned land adjacent to the Transtech Center in southwest Billings. The facility is fully-occupied by GE Financial under the provisions of a 12-year lease with one 8-year and one 5-year option.
The building and the site were designed to accommodate the immediate and future needs of GE while being easily adaptable for other uses, including a multi-tenant occupancy. The initial phase of development includes a single-story building of 44,289 sf with a mechanical mezzanine of approximately 4,200 sf. The building is designed to accommodate a total staff of 225. A future phase of development may occur at GE’s request which would expand the building to approximately 75,000 sf and a total staff level of 400.
Site Development: Access to the site is from two drive approaches along Hesper Road to the south and a single drive approach off Conrad Road to the north. Hesper Road is currently a two-lane paved road scheduled for future widening and full City street improvements. However, because of funding limitations at the City level, it has been determined that these improvements will not occur before this building is occupied. As a result of this delay, EDA in conjunction with the City of Billings has agreed to develop the existing Conrad Road right-of-way into a 600’ cul-de-sac road at the north side of the property. These road improvements will include (1) an extension of a storm sewer line from the corner of Gabel Road and 32nd Street down 32nd to the south and turning west along Conrad Road, (2) extension of water and sanitary sewer mains from 32nd Street, (3) extension of private power and gas utilities, and (4) paving, curbs and gutters, and sidewalks.
The parking lot has been extended from Hesper to Conrad and provides good access and circulation from north and south and for the ability to direct service traffic through the “rear” entrance off Conrad. GE requested that we aim for a 1:1 parking ratio, or an ultimate capability for 380- 400 cars. With the availability of Federal EDA funding match for on-site improvements, the parking lot may be fully developed as part of the Phase I building construction. In contrast, the Billings Zoning Ordinance requires 1 space per 300 sf of building for office occupancy. This translates into 44,289/300, or 148 spaces.
The parking lot was positioned along the east side of the lot for two primary reasons: (1) GE and EDA requested that a landscape buffer be developed to screen the industrial property the adjacent property to the east and the parking lot provides an additional buffer zone, and (2) an east-facing orientation for entry and patio elements is a more desirable to shelter prevailing winds and afternoon sun.
Drainage for the parking lot was directed into bio-swales located between the parking isles to provide retention and cleansing of the surface water before discharge into the storm sewer under Conrad. Similarly, roof drainage will be collected through interior roof drains and discharge into a bio-swale landscape feature along the west side of the building.
The balance of the site that is not being used for building, parking, or access will be landscaped with both hardscape and softscape elements to enhance the appearance of the property and to provide attractive amenities for the staff to enjoy. Landscaping will be consistent with and meet or exceed the stringent standards established by the Transtech Center.
Building Design: Conceptually, the building shape and massing was developed as a series of east/west oriented modules bisected by a raised north/south spine which serves as a public circulation zone, a core element housing fixed rooms on the main level, and a linear mechanical mezzanine above.
The building is founded on a conventional concrete spread footing and pad design over a prepared sub-base of engineered fill as recommended by the Geotechnical Investigation Report. The main floor is a 4” slab-on-grade over the east half of the building and 4” recessed slab-ongrade recessed 18” over the west half of the building.
The wall and roof structure is all steel, with steel columns at approximately 30’ centers, steelbeams and steel joists forming the roof structure and steel decking over the entire roof. Above the roof decking is 6” of polyiso insulation (R=42) and a single-ply membrane, all mechanically attached. Slopes are built into the roof structure to direct water to internal roof drains. Internal
roof drains will drain into a bio-swale system along the west side of the building.
The perimeter walls are steel studs at 16” on center, with full batt insulation, vapor barrier, and Thermax exterior sheathing for continuous thermal protection. These will be pre-fabricated offsite at Langlas’ nearby pre-fab shop, brought the site, and
erected into place. The exterior walls will be clad in a 4” veneer of Arriscraft manufactured stone panel, 12” high and 24” wide, laid in a running bond. The proposed finish is a beige/tan color with a smooth mat finish. The central spine element will be clad in a cementitious, composite panel material with an integral full-depth color. This material is called Swiss Pearl and the proposed color is charcoal. These panels are mounted to horizontal furring channels over top of the exterior Thermax sheathing and air
infiltration barrier and function as a rain screen.
All exterior doors and windows are clear anodized aluminum, with double-glazed insulated window units with a low-e coating. The large openings at the west wall are Kalwall panels, a translucent, insulated panel that promotes interior daylighting while eliminating direct west sun and glare in the building.
All exterior materials are integrally colored, factory finished, very low maintenance.
Interior Design: As reflected in the exterior massing of the building, the interior spaces are grouped into three primary components: the central spine, the area east of the spine, and the area west of the spine.
On the east side of the spine are the common use areas including the main entry, administration offices, food service, shower/locker rooms, central IT storage and distribution, and receiving. The central core area contains conference rooms, a training room, small meeting rooms, offices, a secure workroom for Department of Motor Vehicles transactions, restrooms, tele/data rooms, and stairs to the mechanical mezzanine.
On the west side of the spine are the open office work area and file vault. The entire open office work area utilizes a raised, pedestal-mounted access floor system over a recessed slab, creating a flexible and convenient flooring system that allows for ease of reconfiguration and technology upgrades with only minor disruption. In addition, the HVAC is supplied through the floor via low volume diffusers, allowing each employee the ability to adjust their air supply to their own comfort level.
The open work areas will have an exposed structure of steel components, painted a light color for high reflectance, and lit with direct/indirect pendant-mounted fixtures with high-efficiency fluorescent lamps.
The open office work area incorporates principles of daylighting to offset artificial lighting requirements while creating a pleasant working environment. The perimeter wall have a continuous band of windows for viewing while the west walls will have large expanses of Kalwall, an insulated and translucent wall panel system designed to supplement natural light to the interiors while reducing direct glare. The “notched” recesses in the west wall serve to reduce the massing of the exterior wall while bring the natural light deeper into the work area.
LEED Certification: At the request of GE and with the concurrence of EDA, this facility was designed in accordance with the US Green Building Council’s guidelines for LEED Certification. The stated goal for the project was LEED Certified, requiring a minimum of 26 points as outlined in the LEED Version 2.1 Registered Project Checklist.
Project narrative provided by Jason McGimpsey, A&E Architects