Toyota’s Texan Architecture

When the official grand opening for the Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas, was held on July 7, 2017, TMNA president and CEO Jim Lentz explained how and why the company was now operating on 100 acres in seven buildings providing some 2.1-million square feet of space.

When the official grand opening for the Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas, was held on July 7, 2017, TMNA president and CEO Jim Lentz explained how and why the company was now operating on 100 acres in seven buildings providing some 2.1-million square feet of space.

Lentz:

“Some of you may be wondering, how on earth did a company like Toyota end up in Texas?

“Well, it all started with a conversation I had back in 2013 with our global president, Akio Toyoda. We were discussing the market, how our region was performing. You know, typical business updates.
 

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“Then Akio reminded me of his global vision for this company. He wants Toyota to lead the way to the future of mobility and to enrich lives around the world.

“Then he asked me: What is the one thing you need to change in order to sustain your business into the future?

 “I thought he meant for the next 3 to 5 years, but he actually meant for the next 50 years.

“Later, I told him in order to be prepared for the future and better serve our customers, we needed to unify the teams from across affiliates.

“With his full support, we devised a plan to move our headquarters offices in California, Kentucky and New York to Texas.

“Additionally, we’d gather our direct procurement staff into one Toyota Technical Center near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and bring our production engineering team to Georgetown, Kentucky. 

“While not everyone will be in one location, these moves help us create one unified company – One Toyota.

“This decision is helping us collaborate better, innovate faster, respond quickly to changes in the market, and most important, make more timely decisions in response to our customers.”

I recently had the opportunity to tour the campus with Carlos Soria, Toyota national facilities manager, who has essentially been with the project since the site north of Dallas was announced in April 2014.
 

Soria said that when developing the facility, they had five key principles that guided what they developed on what was then an empty site (the proverbial clean-sheet, although it is worth noting that there is a 100-year-old oak tree that was kept at what became the entrance to the campus, and that was just one of about 80 mature trees that were saved [some relocated on site]; and wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved):
1. Collaborative
2. Flexible for the future
3. Innovative
4. Inspiring
5. Sustainable

The collaborative part is predicated on many elements, like meeting areas located throughout the buildings and stairways for encounters with colleagues. The flexibility also is manifest in several ways, such as the ability to quickly change office space setups. The innovative and inspiring aspects are fundamentally associate-driven; the hope is that people will recognize that they’re working in a complex where innovation is encouraged and that they will be consequently inspired about the place they go to work every day.

And the sustainable story is one that is impressive and that has been acknowledged by the U.S. Green Building Council, as the campus has been awarded LEED Platinum—that’s as in “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”—and platinum is the top ranking. In order to achieve this they’ve done things ranging from installing an 8.79-megawatt solar power system to setting up a rainwater collection system to preserving or replanting trees on the site.

Toyota has made a big bet in moving to Texas—and not just the approximately $1-billion it spent on the facility. Know that when the company first setup a headquarters in the U.S. it was for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., in 1957, in a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood. It opened a complex in Torrance, California, 25 years later, and that has been where a large number of the people who moved to Plano came from. Let’s face it: Plano is about 300 miles from the Gulf of Mexico (at Galveston); Torrance Beach is on the Pacific. That was undoubtedly a consideration for a number of people who made the move.

But unquestionably, the company, architecturally, has made a huge effort to make it even more appealing.—GSV