A Tour of the Corporate Canterbury

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Wilcox People

The Chicago headquarters of Wilcox Communities blends so seamlessly into its surroundings that you would never suspect it was there. But don’t look for it in Chicago; it is actually located in Plainfield in the Wilcox community of Villas at Fox Run. There, tucked into a Canterbury home that from the outside looks just like every other Canterbury in the community, is the office of one of the fastest growing builders in the Midwest.

In 2009, company president Jamie Wilcox moved his staff from traditional office space in Burr Ridge to the Canterbury in Villas at Fox Run. It made sense, after all, to be in a community he was building, close to the residents and potential buyers.

Jamie’s office director and employee of 10 years, Sharon Erickson, remembers going to the empty Canterbury to take measurements and plan out the space. At the time, fitting six employees into the 1800-plus square-foot home was manageable. But now, with the company expanding rapidly, the number of workspaces has increased to 13, and things have gotten quite interesting.

I’ve been curious about this one-of-a-kind office since I heard about it last year. Finally, a few days ago, I grabbed my camera and went to see the Corporate Canterbury for myself.

Wilcox marketing manager Ember Ferrantino offered to meet me at the clubhouse and walk me over to “Corporate,” as the staff refers to it. I was happy for her help. Without her, it would have been hard to find the right Canterbury. With no signage to identify it, the only hint would have been the extra cars parked in the vicinity. The entrance, at the back of the building, looks like this.

entrance

When you open the door and walk in, here is what you see. I found it disorienting because it was so different from the Canterbury homes my friends live in.

view from door

The living room is partitioned into a number of office spaces, many of them quite cozy. Here, for example, is Julie Murphy, an accounting assistant, at work at her desk.

julie murphy

Continuing down a hallway formed by dividers, you turn left to enter Sharon’s office. Here she is at her well-organized desk. If you’re trying to get your bearings, Sharon’s portion of the living room contains the fireplace.

sharon erickson

Jamie’s office is in the master bedroom. Here he is at his desk, conferring with Ember.

jamie & ember

The Canterbury’s den serves as the office for George Bullard, purchasing manager. Chief Financial Officer John Connelly, one of several Connellys on the staff, is located in the guest bedroom. Here he is.

john connelly

There are two shared spaces in the office. One, the sunroom, makes a good conference room. The other is the kitchen, which is a multi-purpose combination of kitchen, break room, and office workroom.

kitchen

Not an inch of space is wasted. One office space was even created from a converted closet. Then, after the Canterbury was filled to capacity, the office overflowed into the garage. It was divided in half by a temporary wall and was modified to make it more comfortable. Half of the garage is additional work spaces, and the remaining half is for storage. Here is Ember’s garage office.

ember office

This wraps up the tour, but there is still more I would like you to know. First, I didn’t photograph all of the staff members present at the time of my visit. This post doesn’t give a true picture of how many people work in close proximity and of their comings and goings. Yet they all looked cheerful and unstressed. In fact, I think their setup would be conducive to collaboration and camaraderie.

The big question for me is how long this Corporate Canterbury can accommodate the growing staff. And what happens when the community is finished? Fox Run is already 70 percent built out. Does the office stay? Probably not, I would guess.

Wherever the Wilcox staff lands in the future—be it traditional office space or another unique home—I’m sure they will have fond memories of the good old days in the Corporate Canterbury.

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