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Ghafari and Northpointe Bank Unveil a Cutting-Edge Workplace Transformation for New Operations Center

Ghafari and Northpointe Bank Unveil a Cutting-Edge Workplace Transformation for New Operations Center

Grand Rapids, Michigan – Ghafari Associates (Ghafari), a global architecture and engineering firm, and Northpointe Bank (Northpointe), a nationwide leader in offering innovative and high-value banking products, are proud to announce the opening of the innovative Northpointe Bank Operations Center. This cutting-edge facility assumes the role of the national operations hub for Northpointe’s growing residential lending and servicing groups. As a dynamic and forward-thinking workplace, this facility will continue to elevate Northpointe’s mission “to be the best bank in America by bringing value and innovation to the people and communities they serve while delivering real value through a collaborative, high-performance and diverse company culture.”

Northpointe’s continued growth in its residential lending offerings drove the demand for a new kind of space, now realized in its new Operations Center. In the fall of 2019, Ghafari began the process of working with Northpointe’s leadership to conceive a creative, flexible workplace that anticipates the needs of a growing company while also accommodating a variety of groups, departments, and workstyles. Together, Ghafari and Northpointe master-planned a multi-tenant and expansive transformation to the former Cascade Commons building, an aging, nearly vacant 91,000 square foot big box and former design showcase center on Grand Rapids’ southeast side.

Ghafari gave us tremendous insight and drive into designing a productive environment. Beyond just brick and mortar, Ghafari delivered a smart office layout that is flexible, collaborative and a place where people want to work.

Chuck Williams

President + CEO | Northpointe Bank

“At Northpointe, people are the center of everything we do – and our workspace is a direct reflection of the trusted life-long relationships we build with our customers, employees and communities,” said Northpointe’s President and CEO Chuck Williams. “Ghafari gave us tremendous insight and drive into designing a productive environment. Beyond just brick and mortar, Ghafari delivered a smart office layout that is flexible, collaborative and a place where people want to work.”

Prior to putting pen to paper, Ghafari developed a strategic roadmap as a deep understanding of Northpointe’s key business drivers that have a direct impact on the functionality of a workplace and the effectiveness of the people working within. The roadmap offers a holistic understanding of Northpointe’s real estate, people, culture, technology, and well-being. With this in mind, Ghafari designed an immersive interior and exterior user experience that balances diverse workstyles and high-tech meeting spaces with engaging and expansive social spaces. Key to the design’s success is the introduction of vast amounts of natural light, coupled with a design vision that mimics Michigan’s natural beauty and seasonal change. Ghafari drew upon the renovation of a massive interior skylight that spans the entire depth of the building – a key feature that is a major element of the building’s past, now a renewed driver and symbol of Northpointe’s future.

According to Michael Lubbers, AIA, Director of Design at Ghafari, “The design transcends the functional parameters of program and budget, much like how Northpointe transcends typical banking. Northpointe gets that people want to be part of something that is genuine, exhibits trust, provides freedom, and promotes well-being. In the end, we created an environment that offers serious focus – while also offering choices and fun, reflective of users’ daily lives and surroundings.”

In addition to early strategic thinking, a key success story of the project was the early introduction of the General Contractor, Visser Brothers Inc. (Visser). Visser was also the contractor for the original Cascade Commons facility, offering a wealth of history and understanding of the original Cascade Commons design and construction methods. Visser’s budgeting and management expertise provided the overall teams’ home base in navigating a very successful project through the entirety of 2020.

“We all know the challenges of 2020 and navigating a major project for Northpointe was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Jeff Schut, Project Manager for Visser. “We’re thrilled with the end result and we’re proud to offer our expertise in a time of so much unknown – but with a great client and great team, we proved together is always better.”

The Northpointe Operations Center is a stunning, flexible, and creative transformation of an undiscovered Grand Rapids treasure. Now complete, it boasts human-focused qualities while simultaneously raising the bar and forging a path for authentic workplace offerings in West Michigan. “Given the circumstances of 2020, naturally we had to re-think how this project fits our strategic business plans,” added Ashley Moser, Vice President of Administration for Northpointe. “However, we immediately confirmed that our early designs of a full functioning, collaborative workspace is very important now and in our future. Northpointe doesn’t do anything half-way – we hold to being the best at everything we do and the Operations Center is example of just that.”

About Ghafari Associates

An innovator since 1982, Ghafari embraces an integrated approach to deliver design solutions that synergize building operations, systems, and people. This approach is made possible by the firm’s full complement of capabilities, including architecture, interior design, civil + structural engineering, MEP, ICT + security, and operations + systems engineering. Ghafari supports the automotive, aviation, commercial, education, government + institutional, healthcare, industrial + manufacturing, and workplace sectors through 11 offices across the globe.

About Northpointe Bank

Northpointe Bank works to be a different kind of bank, putting “you” at the center of everything they do. Northpointe offers innovative and high-value banking products nationwide, including custom-tailored home loans and deposit savings rates that are among the best rates in America. Northpointe empowers their employees to exceed expectations and enrich the communities in which they serve. For each of the past six years, Independent Community Bankers of America® has ranked Northpointe Bank as a top-performing bank in the nation out of approximately 5,000 ICBA member banks.*To learn more about Northpointe, visit

Media Contacts:

Kendra Achenbach-Warner | Marketing Coordinator | Ghafari | | +1.616.771.0909
Ashley Moser | Vice President of Administration | | +1.616.974.8427