PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | It’s lunch time as commissioner Jay Monahan, dressed down for casual Friday, walks through the airy atrium of the PGA Tour’s new 187,000 square-foot headquarters building and heads toward the cafe that specializes in smoothies and coffee.
Not far away, soon-to-be-retired executive vice president Ty Votaw is chatting with a group of people as the Florida sun beams through the building that is designed to let the sun shine in.
Upstairs, former commissioner Tim Finchem, also wearing jeans and sneakers, is in a glass office, just days from his induction in the World Golf Hall of Fame, which will be held in the new building’s spacious atrium.
Around them, in glass-walled offices, on the outdoor terraces and in the dining area where chefs prepare fresh entrees daily, the business of the tour goes on in the new building that is home to approximately 700 employees, with room for more.
After years of spreading its headquarters among 17 buildings, the PGA Tour opens a new $65 million home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The sleek, striking facility is bordered on three sides by water, a subtle nod to the famous par-3 17th hole at the TPC Stadium Course located just a short walk away.
“The goal here was to create something different. … There are no goofy things that you would associate with something very avant garde, but it is a unique building and it is different from anything else.” – Jim Triola
The goal, aside from bringing the tour’s expanding workforce under one new skylight-dominated roof, was to create a building that serves as a business office without feeling like just another workplace.
The idea began coming to life in 2014.
“We started looking at the land that we had and whether or not it made sense to have one structure where we could put everybody and make it large enough to accommodate some potential future growth,” said Jim Triola, the tour’s chief of operations for golf course properties and the man largely responsible for bringing the building to life.
After considering other potential sites in the north Florida area, the tour decided to build on what had been used as tournament parking on the southern boundary of the Stadium Course.
The architects were hired in 2016, work on the site began a couple of years later and, after a delay induced by COVID-19, the building opened fully to employees in February. Because the bulk of the materials had been ordered and delivered before the pandemic, construction was never significantly delayed.
The building has been compared to something that might be found in Silicon Valley with its three-story design that features straight lines and is described by its designers Foster + Partners as having “a pair of parallel three-story bays flanking a collaborative atrium. The glazed façades and atrium fill the building with natural light, also allowing for axial views out to the surrounding landscape throughout.”
It’s like nothing else, especially in north Florida.
“The goal here was to create something different. We didn’t want it to be recreating what we have at the clubhouse with that sort of St. Augustine look. The lines are very straight,” Triola said. “There are no goofy things that you would associate with something very avant garde, but it is a unique building and it is different from anything else.”
Even before entering the building, its impact is dramatic. Two walkways lead in, taking visitors across water and into an entryway that leads to a wide staircase providing access to the upper floors.
The atrium was designed to have the flexibility of hosting big groups, which it will do Wednesday night when the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are held there. It’s also a place where staff meetings can be held with employees gathering along what feel like balconies overlooking the atrium.
“What (the architects) came up with was a plan that had a mix of very open spaces to allow the light to come through,” Triola said. “They built in the different ways so that you can get privacy so people can take phone calls and things like that.”
The design creates a more interactive environment for employees.
“One of the things that we talked about in the goal of this building was activity,” said Kirsten Sabia, vice president of communications for the Tour. “So you’re meeting these people who work for the tour that you never would have met before because they were in a totally different building.
“It’s creating more relationships, which is really neat. Before we would go to all-employee meetings in the clubhouse and sit in these uncomfortable chairs and you’d be like, ‘Oh gosh, I don’t think I’ve never seen that person before,’ but now you’re seeing them on a daily basis.”
There is a first-floor meeting room that features a golf simulator. There is an expansive fitness center with a pilates room and a support staff. There is the tour’s version of a genius bar where tech issues can be sorted out, a wellness center and approximately 150 display screens throughout the building.
It’s not a museum. There are images of players and moments, but the walls aren’t covered in a visual history of the tour.
The large café features a pizza oven, fresh salads, sandwiches and daily entrees, all with a focus on healthy eating. Feel like rice noodles with ahi tuna and edamame? It’s there.
“There’s no reason to leave the office,” Sabia said.
While everyone has their own workspace, they are not confined to one area.
Meetings can be held outside on the trail that meanders through some of the 800 trees that were planted around the building. There is also a patio and large green space behind the building, big enough to host parties, in addition to more than 50,000 square feet of covered outdoor space.
“You are free to go anywhere in this building to do your work,” Triola said. “We have people that go out on the balconies and take their computer, and a couple of them may have a meeting or someone may go out there and work on their computer and read or generate material.
“Depending on your feelings that day or the kind of day it is, you can do your work in any sort of setting you would like.”
Given the chance to create something new and lasting, designers talked with employees about the functionality and feelings they wanted from a new building. The result is a reflection of the tour and what it represents.
“This is a multifaceted business that the design itself speaks to,” Triola said. “There was a big emphasis with Jay (Monahan) on making sure that we took into account fostering collaboration, and I think that speaks for the organization.
“The whole palette and what the designers had in mind to still pay homage to the sort of the baseline of this business with the golf. When you come through the front, we have some water features up front. They were purposely designed to look like water features on a golf course. You’ll notice the colors of the building are sand, obviously there’s a lot of green around, so I do think there was almost like an evolutionary piece of this of taking this from just a golf organization to a multifaceted company. And I think that’s reflected in this building.”
Photos: Courtesy Chuck Choi, Foster + Partners
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