United Way of the Midlands


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United Way of the Midlands

Nonprofit Headquarters, Columbia, SC

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United Way of the Midlands McWaters Professional Office RelocationUnited Way of the Midlands

United Way of the Midlands
Nonprofit Headquarters
Columbia, SC

Service-Lines: Furniture, Relocation

Products Used: Steelcase, Turnstone, JSI, Designtex, ERG International

"Working on this project has been a great experience for McWaters," said Whitney McMakin, McWaters' Director of Design. "Not only has it given us a chance to work with some fantastic industry partners, it was also a way we could help support the United Way of the Midlands and everything they do for our community." 

The McWaters team and their partners worked together to convert and renovate a series of three old buildings into a unified space to serve as the new headquarters for the United Way of the Midlands. The challenges included addressing the lack of natural light within the new space, creating spaces that supported individual work while also fostering collaboration between different departments, and designing a space that would serve the needs of the community.  

"The partnership between McWaters, 1x1 Design, and LCK has been great," said Mac Bennett, CEO at United Way. "McWaters has a knowledgeable, friendly staff and everyone worked well as a team."

High ceilingElective Elements Desking by SteelcasePost & Beam by Steelcase

Project Scope

Design: McWaters worked with 1x1 Design and LCK to help turn three buildings on Blanding Street in Columbia, SC into a single, cohesive building. The new space provided the United Way with personalized yet well-connected department areas, multiple conference rooms, collaboration spaces, and a meeting space that is open to the public. 

The United Way staff played a large role in the furniture selection, with each team discussing their group's needs, preferences, and work styles. McWaters incorporated that feedback into the furniture selection so that each group got a space that worked for them and met the design challenges.

McWaters flooring specialists were also able to recommend and install a raised flooring system that helped bridge the varying floor heights throughout three different spaces, making it more efficient to move from space to space and easy to distribute power in the floor.  

Schedule:  Project completed August 2016.

Answer Systems Furniture by SteelcaseTopo Chairs by Coalesse and Alight Ottomans by TurnstoneFrameOne Benching by Steelcase



McWaters tailored each department's area to their specific needs. The communications department utilized the Steelcase Answer system with lower separation panels to help facilitate collaboration while the finance and human resources departments have more separation between workspaces and the common areas to help protect privacy and sensitive documents, and the executive suites are outfitted with more traditional style to keep the executive feel.

This approach meant McWaters could recognize different work styles and habits and give each employee what they truly needed to support their day-to-day work. Each department area was designed with their own collaboration space that was tailored to their needs. 

Steelcase Post and Beam, Turnstone Campfire Big tables, and Coalesse Topo Lounge seating were just some of the products used. 

Private offices were created with Steelcase Privacy Walls and Steelcase Elective Elements desking systems. The glass fronts of the offices not only created an open feel, but allowed natural light from the exterior windows to filter into the interior spaces.

"There's a great diversity of appearances and functions among different departments while retaining consistency throughout the building," said Mac Bennett, CEO at United Way. "It's something we really appreciate as an organization."


The design team addressed the issue of lighting by recommending a non-negotiable budget line for Symmetry Float desk lamps. For each workstation, the design team also took color into careful consideration when selecting finishes for the work surfaces. 

They chose to go with white finishes so that the light would reflect back and make the space brighter. The pops of yellow throughout the space not only provided a way to incorporate the United Way brand, but they also added a bright, cheery feeling to the space. 

Raised Flooring

McWaters worked with the design team to decide whether raised flooring throughout was the best option or whether they would create ramps down to each level. Eventually the teams decided that ramps would take away too much space from workstations and collaboration areas.

The raised floors also had the added benefit of being a better fit for the budget by allowing electrical wiring to run underneath, creating a more flexible space that didn't depend on existing electrical outlets or expensive trenching in the subfloor. 


McWaters professional relocation team coordinated with the design team to create a plan of action that would allow the United Way to efficiently move their employees with minimal interruption in the day-to-day operations. A system of crates for each employee's files and personal office equipment was used to move from the existing space to the new space.

We can address any number of challenges from lighting to relocating. See what the McWaters team can do for you. 

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McWaters Account Managers and Designers:
Brittany Burnett
Whitney McMakin
Jessica Koumas 
Joey Mixson

McWaters Relocation: Robert Myers
McWaters Flooring: Chip Salak
Architectural Partner: 1x1 Design
Project Management Partner: LCK