Case Study: Weaving Past Success into Future Progress

Founders Federal Credit Union

Lancaster, South Carolina


The Founders Federal Credit Union Headquarters (FFCU) was designed with a single intent: to celebrate and honor the past textile industry in the community it serves while creating an innovative and collaborative workspace. While much has changed in the more than 60 years since the credit union was established to serve the workers of the local textile industry, they have remained a vital stitch in the local community.

With an understanding that the new corporate headquarters was vital to weaving past success with future progress, the “mill” became the design inspiration and metaphor for the new corporate headquarters.

The “Mill”

Much like the warp and weft of a woven fabric, the headquarters is visually linked both vertically and horizontally. A feature wall and stair extends 3 levels to stitch a series of sustainable work environments together into a symbolic cloth. Held taught by stainless steel cables, this cloth becomes the framework that bonds the physical and cultural workplace. Significant artifacts of Founders’ past are on display, recalling the organization’s roots while maintaining a keen eye towards the future. The stair and feature wall serve as a “spool” of social and cultural enlightenment, and create an environment for increased collaboration and connectivity.

“The stair and feature wall serve as a ‘spool’ of social and cultural enlightenment. It is here that collaboration and connectivity is increased for the entire staff. By tearing down the walls both internally and externally all employees are able to survey the natural and cultural landscape around them.”
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The absence of walls, both internally and externally, and a 360 degree panoramic view from every workstation allows all employees to interact with the natural and cultural landscape around them. Low partition workspaces encourage the sharing of ideas and a feeling of trust. A “hub” in each department allows for comfortable collaboration and forms a consistent thread of circulation around the exterior courtyard, which is organized around an existing pond where large office gatherings can be held. The connection between the exterior courtyard and interior workspace is enhanced by the all glass façade. A more social encounter is available by pivoting the glass walls open, blurring the line between interior and exterior space. This engagement between building and site serves to promote and reinforce a sense of workplace community.

Features and Design Elements

The building façade can be understood as a series of fabric patterns visible in the deployment of stone wall, metal fins and terracotta screens. Landscape “threads” help tie the outdoors to the community within, and the integration of recycled brick from the historic Lancaster textile mill creates a series of connected experiences to welcome visitors to this new community landmark.

  1. Corporate Office
  2. Conference Center
  3. Entry Lobby
  4. “Family” Room
  5. Atrium and “Fabric” Feature Wall
  6. Communal Courtyard
  7. Terracotta Sunshade
  8. Stage

Community Landmark

From the beginning, the focus was on blurring the line between interior and exterior. This promotes a positive response environmentally as it roots the project to the physical context, and plays an integral role in linking the headquarters to the local cultural fabric. Incorporating an existing pond into the courtyard of the building establishes a connection to the landscape and provides passive cooling to the building.

Results Beyond Architecture

“The professional and meticulous approach Little has taken is nothing short of amazing. From interviewing our employees, listening to their needs, integrating our textile background into the building and site design, and assisting in the bid process – I couldn’t be happier. I cannot imagine beginning this journey without Little’s knowledge and assistance.” Bruce Brumfield, CEO, Founders Federal Credit Union

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