Norfolk Southern Corporation Headquarters Conference Center

Norfolk Southern is a national leader in rail transportation with a rich history in Virginia and the Southern US. After consolidating the Roanoke office and some functions from Atlanta into their downtown Norfolk Headquarters, the need arose to build a world class conference center for employees and visitors. It was crucial to provide for both formal and informal meeting spaces that would help develop comradery and collaboration to support the new organizational structure. The project requirements were to provide a variety of spaces that allow for different types and sizes of meetings, to provide state-of-the-art conferencing technology in all rooms, to provide a café, and to brand the space as uniquely Norfolk Southern.

The conference center occupies over 8,900 square feet on the 11th floor of the McKinnon building, accessible to all employees. Twelve conference rooms, a large café, catering prep, a copy center, and storage are provided. Each conference room was designed to meet the varied meeting needs of a large corporation. Some offer casual furniture, such as lounge chairs with tablets arms, allowing for informal collaboration. Others offer a traditional table and chair layout, though a few rooms have a modern spin with a round table or standing height furniture. The rooms vary in size, accommodating 2-30 people.

All rooms offer interactive touch screen displays that have been recessed into the wall and have technology integrated into the furniture. Larger conference rooms offer the ability to hold video-conferencing. Employees can reserve the rooms through an electronic scheduling system. Displays outside each door indicate the room’s schedule and can be used to reserve a room via touch screen.

Norfolk Southern’s rich heritage is used to brand the space. Each conference room is named after a Predecessor Railway, with the two large executive rooms named after the eponymous Norfolk & Western and Southern Railways. In both of these rooms custom digital wallcoverings are composed of line maps and advertisements from the respective railroad. Another digital wallcovering of Norfolk Southern’s “family portrait”, showing engines from each of the Predecessor Railways, unifies the space in the waiting area.

The wall and furniture finishes of each conference room coordinate with the heritage unit, or locomotive, colors of its namesake railroad. Art, photographs, ads, and other memorabilia from each railway were pulled from archives and adorn the walls of their respective room. Frosted logos of each predecessor railway are found on their rooms’ glass doors. The corridor outside of the executive conference rooms is dedicated to the past chairmen of Norfolk Southern, the first time in company history that all of the portraits have been hung together.

The Depot, the large café also located on the floor, serves the building as a place to take lunch, grab a cup of coffee, or hold an informal meeting. A self-serve micro market stocked with fresh locally sourced meals and traditional vending items and a Starbucks coffee machine are accessible to employees during working hours. Items are paid for with the swipe of a vendor supplied card. The structure supporting the market was designed to mimic the lines of the casework in the café, and the signage is unique to The Depot.

A variety of booths and tables allow for individual and group seating. The furniture finishes are all black and white, Norfolk Southern’s colors. The Depot’s logo is found on custom table tops and a custom textile emblazoned with Norfolk Southern’s speed lines and rearing thoroughbred upholster a set of booth backs.

Finishes and fixtures throughout the space create a modern aesthetic and recall the company’s heritage. Different flooring patterns are used to delineate spaces, while gray hues unify. Each conference room type is defined by a different carpet pattern. The executive rooms are finished with a warm-toned plush carpet to elevate the spaces. Blue and gold planks run through the elevator lobby and waiting area mimicking railroad ties. The linear lighting above conference tables recall the shape of a rail track, and the fixtures in The Depot are inspired by old lanterns and industrial lights. A logo wall in the elevator lobby was added to matches other floors, creating a cohesive look throughout the building. The finishes, branding, and technology work together to provide Norfolk Southern a contemporary conference center they will utilize for years to come.