Choice Hotels International will close the doors for good at its circa-1970s headquarters in Silver Spring as it prepares to move into its new digs in Rockville.
On Monday, 400 employees will start their first day of work at the Fortune 500 company’s Town Center headquarters.
"What you like, I picked," said President and CEO Stephen P. Joyce, jokingly, as he helped lead a tour of the new building on Thursday.
The company will occupy more than 130,000 square feet of office space in the building, owned and built by Foulger-Pratt. Joyce said the new building reflected the company’s new direction.
“We have always been a major hotel company for folks who are on the way to go someplace. Now we're trying to be a company that also is a place where people are going to,” Joyce said.
On Thursday, Joyce talked up the company’s latest ventures in IT—The Washington Post recently reported on how Choice moved its property management system to the cloud and is offering the software to competitors.
Choice has also expanded two of its higher-end chains, Cambria Suites and Ascend.
Any recent visitor to Town Center would have noticed the massive construction site across from Tara Thai—the future home of a new Cambria Suites. The new hotel is expected to open in 2015, according to Steve Stoycos, Managing Director of Choice Hotels International.
The concept behind the Rockville headquarters was to get workers to interact—a feat encouraged by airy common areas and a bright, open staircase that seams through the building’s workspaces, according to Pablo Quintana, associate principal at VOA, the architecture firm involved with the design.
“We wanted to get people to interact with people in a setting that didn’t feel contrived,” Quintana said.
The fourth floor—the part of the building that’s accessible to the public—looked like an upscale hotel lobby, with angular chairs and benches and round silver light fixtures that looked like metallic air bubbles.
The seating area bled into an assembly space with high tables and chairs, as you’d find at a modern bar. It’s the only place in the building workers will find a microwave—another way to encourage interaction and collaboration.
There’s also an outdoor terrace with fire pits and WiFi, a design Quntana said was inspired by the outdoor culture of Phoenix, where the company’s IT headquarters is located.
According to The Washington Post, governors from three states tried to lure Choice away when it came time for the company to end its 30-year lease in Silver Spring.
When asked Thursday why he picked the site at Rockville, Joyce, a New Carrollton, MD native, said it was an easy decision to make.
“Mass transit was a must,” Joyce said. The new headquarters is less than two blocks from Rockville’s stop on the Red Line. The Silver Spring site was off Columbia Pike, outside the beltway and far from Metro.
Joyce said the company also wanted to go somewhere where they were wanted. He said the City of Rockville welcomed Choice “with open arms.”
The city, county and state provided a $4.3 million subsidy package to enable the Rockville move, Patch reported in October.
“We wanted a place where people would feel part of the community and they would not just work here but they would also socialize, get together for a bite after work, they would have lunch together at a place that was convenient, and have lots of different options.”
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