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ORLANDO-Construction of Darden Restaurants’ new three-story, 469,000-square-foot headquarters is now complete, developer Trammell Crow Co. announced last week. The suburban building along John Young Parkway is expected to become Florida’s largest LEED Gold certified building once it receives certification by the US Green Building Council.

“This is one of the most advanced, state-of-the-art headquarter facilities anywhere in the country,” says Bob Abberger, Trammell Crow’s senior managing director in Tampa who supervised the $152-million project. “Bringing Darden’s vision to reality was a huge accomplishment for the entire team. Their commitment to sustainability made them the perfect client for TCC to showcase our leadership in sustainable design and development.”

Darden’s new restaurant support center on its 57-acre campus will accommodate 1,300 employees that had been spread out among 12 different buildings in a two-mile radius. The new facility will support nearly 1,800 restaurants throughout North America, encompassing several different brands: Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.

Clarence Otis, Darden chairman and CEO, says the building signifies a new era in the company’s history. “Our new home is the embodiment of our goal to create a great company, a winning company financially and a special place to be,” Otis says.

Among the project’s green elements are recycling of at least 90% of construction waste, a 114,000-square-foot glass curtainwall exterior allowing increased natural light, and an air-conditioning and lighting system designed to adjust to the amount of sunlight entering the building and reduce energy use by 16%. Also, use of reclaimed water in restrooms and irrigation systems should save nearly two million gallons of water each year.

Darden’s workers should also benefit from multiple staircases within the building, along with their own 5,000-square-foot fitness center and half-mile walking trail. Development kitchens for various restaurant brands are also adjacent to each other, allowing for improved interaction and idea sharing.

“We were committed to ensuring our employees had input and involvement in shaping the development of this project,” says Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Darden. The company worked with architecture firm Perkins+Will and Hardin Construction Co. in designing and building the new headquarters.

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