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Assurity Center

The Assurity Center grand staircase on the main floor is seen on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (ROBERT BECKER/Lincoln Journal Star)

It's bright, modern and sustainable -- and it's certainly not what you'd expect an insurance office to look like.

The new five-story, 175,000 square-foot, $53 million Assurity Life Insurance building at 20th and Q streets features bright colors, flexible floor plans, wide-open windows and ergonomic work spaces, and it pays special attention to health and wellness.

President and CEO Tom Henning said no one wanted to design a stodgy insurance office, and he can tell employees are taking to it nicely.

"They're excited. How can you not be?" Henning said just outside his non-traditional CEO office space. "It's cheerful.

"I feel we all do our best when we have a great environment to work in -- and if you're going to build a building, why wouldn't you build one you're excited to be in?"

There are no mahogany desks here -- it's oranges, yellows, purples and light-colored woods in Henning's place, which isn't a built-in office.

About 400 employees moved into the new building, 2000 Q St., in Antelope Valley in December, but public officials and others got to see it for the first time at a ribbon-cutting event Thursday. Assurity has four floors of the building, while The Physician Network leases out the top floor.

It's a welcome change for the company that previously had three offices scattered across Lincoln.

While customers most likely won't have to venture to the building, the people they're talking to on the other side of the phone line are basking in natural sunlight.

Employee wellness and happiness was a main objective, Henning said.

Each employee has an ergonomic, adjustable desk that allows him or her to either sit or stand.

"It helps keeps you awake," one woman said.

Henning said the corporate objectives were to build an architecturally interesting structure, create a flexible space to expand and contract as business needs change, use the latest technology, promote health and wellness and be sustainable all while being cost effective.

The large office space was designed to meet standards for Gold LEED certification.

Native grasses and other plants occupy roof space and collect rainwater and transfer it to a cistern.

Bioswales and pervious pavement in the parking lot help with storm water management.

The cafeteria is stocked with healthy foods, and each floor has two "pantries" for casual meetings and eating areas.

Henning said he also wanted to promote commuting by bike because the building is right next to a trail, so Assurity built locker rooms and showers in the basement.

Raised floors provide access to power, data, heating and cooling systems, enhancing the ability to reconfigure according to need or adapt to new technologies.

The open floor plan with a 25,000-square-foot floor plate creates open spaces that foster collaboration.

Clark Enersen designed and Sampson Construction built the building.

Not quite everything about the building is modern. The first floor has a wall of historical photos and artifacts detailing the three companies' 120-plus years of history in Lincoln.

Terraces and balconies overlook the still-to-be-completed Union Plaza, part of the Antelope Valley project, which began in 2001.

The redevelopment aimed to fix the flood plain, provide another major roadway through east downtown and create a vibrant park area.

Mayor Chris Beutler said Assurity's building provided the fourth part of the plan: a group of private sector entrepreneurs to revitalize the area.

"They are leaders for development ... and this building will have an enormous beneficial effect to the surrounding area," Beutler said.

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Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him @LJSPascale.

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