Leslie's new, pool-themed building was once an old Sam's Club

Laurie Merrill, The Republic | azcentral.com  2:13 p.m. MST May 16, 2014

Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies has converted an empty big box eyesore into a light, bright state-of-the-art office space complete with splashy blue walls and the sounds of the sea. 

Architect Anne Sneed, of Del Mar, Calif., stands in the foyer of the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies headquarters. It is an innovative use of a former Sam's Club.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Architect Anne Sneed, of Del Mar, Calif., stands in the foyer of the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies headquarters. It is an innovative use of a former Sam's Club.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Architect Anne Sneed was in charge of converting a Sam's Club into a huge, sparkling work space with work neighbhoods. The Leslie's pool building is at 2005 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Architect Anne Sneed was in charge of converting a Sam's Club into a huge, sparkling work space with work neighbhoods. The Leslie's pool building is at 2005 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

The new age lobby complete with blue pool tile sets the theme for the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies building on 2005 E. Indian School Rd. (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

The new age lobby complete with blue pool tile sets the theme for the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies building on 2005 E. Indian School Rd. (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

Architect Anne Sneed with Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies Executive Vice President Steve Ortega in one of many huge, uncluttered, blue-accented express hallways at the new space.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Architect Anne Sneed with Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies Executive Vice President Steve Ortega in one of many huge, uncluttered, blue-accented express hallways at the new space.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Another innovation in the upscale, high-tech new Leslie's pool customer support center is a nurse practitioner on the site.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Another innovation in the upscale, high-tech new Leslie's pool customer support center is a nurse practitioner on the site.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Architect Anne Sneed stands in one of the pool-themed corners in the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies headquarters and customer service center at 20th Street and Indian School Road.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Architect Anne Sneed stands in one of the pool-themed corners in the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies headquarters and customer service center at 20th Street and Indian School Road.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

One of the work neighborhoods in the Sam's Club-turned-Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies headquarters, complete with pool-themed sayings.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

One of the work neighborhoods in the Sam's Club-turned-Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies headquarters, complete with pool-themed sayings.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies' building features community gathering spaces, such as this large table in a work neighborhood, ficus trees, high ceilings, exposed duct work, huge fans and a wooden trellis more typically seen at backyard pools.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies' building features community gathering spaces, such as this large table in a work neighborhood, ficus trees, high ceilings, exposed duct work, huge fans and a wooden trellis more typically seen at backyard pools.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

One of several work neighborhoods showing the sense of space, ficus trees, high ceilings, pool-like trellis, and a community gathering space at the new Leslie pool's building.  (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

One of several work neighborhoods showing the sense of space, ficus trees, high ceilings, pool-like trellis, and a community gathering space at the new Leslie pool's building.  (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

Even the sinks in the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies building seem to have a wave-like appearance.  (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

Even the sinks in the new Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies building seem to have a wave-like appearance.  (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

An executive conference room with reused furniture is featured in the newly opened Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies building.  (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

An executive conference room with reused furniture is featured in the newly opened Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies building.  (Photo: Dino Tonn Photography)

The lunch room at the new Leslie's pool headquarters has a ping pong table, roll-up garage doors for an outside space, free fruit and plenty of places to sit and relax.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

The lunch room at the new Leslie's pool headquarters has a ping pong table, roll-up garage doors for an outside space, free fruit and plenty of places to sit and relax.  (Photo: Laurie Merrill/The Arizona Republic)

The 91,500 square-foot customer service center, at 2005 E. Indian School Rd., is unusual not only because it blossomed from the guts of a mothballed warehouse, but also because it is a visually stunning place with soaring ceilings, exposed duct work, work neighborhoods and express hallways.

 

It has a huge gym, bikes, a ping pong table in the lunch room, and its own nurse practitioner on premises.

 

"The space is open airy and very employee focused," said Tom Siebert, a spokesman for Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors. "You feel like you could be at Google or Facebook."

 

But you're not. You're in the Camelback corridor, a part of Phoenix that is basking in the economic glow of the nearby Arcadia neighborhood.

And you're in an enormous building that was once a visual menace, a shuttered Sam's Club.

 

"It's an adaptive reuse," said Sneed, the Del Mar, Calif.-based architect who was in charge of the project. Sneed said the idea was to keep the character of the warehouse while reusing it in a better and creative way.

 

The original concrete floors were retained, but polished to a high sheen. Used desks, chairs and furniture were purchased. Ceiling pipes and ducts were painted a uniform white. Enormous fans were hung from the ceiling, while wide sky lights allow the sun to pour in.

 

Steven Ortega, Leslie's executive vice president, said after the company outgrew its office on Broadway and 40th Street, company managers opted to renovate the old warehouse.

 

"We decided to take a bolder move," Ortega said.

 

The idea was to create a space that was comfortable, open, conducive to new lifestyles and filled with natural light, he said.

"It was really trying to create a new environment that will drive productivity," Ortega said.

On a tour of the 91,500 square-foot building, which opened in February, Sneed and Ortega showed off the massive hallways, 30-foot ceilings, and splashy blue pool-themed accent walls.

Sayings are spread in huge letters across the blue walls.

 

"Caution, do not breathe under water," one says.

"Home is where the pool is," says another.

 

The long hallways are "expressways" that bypass "work neighborhoods" that Sneed created. Each center has its neighborhood with individual work stations as well as community gathering spaces.

 

"At large urban community tables with high chairs, team members can sit, think, meet and spread out. The goal: to inspire collaborative work and give people another space away from their desks," Leslie's says in a brochure.

 

"The spaces are defined overhead by stained wooden lattices that soften the industrial edge. Throughout the business, there are similar inviting areas with benches, lounge chairs in corridors and a lunchroom that feels like a fun bistro."

 

The lunch room has a ping pong table, free fresh fruit, and rolling garage doors that open to an outdoor patio. Bicycles are available for employees to ride.

 

The pool theme runs throughout. Pool lights just a few feet off the floor illuminate hallways. A white noise that sounds like the surf fills the air. Blue pool tiles cover several wall spaces. Some bathroom sinks rest on wave-shaped pedestals.

 

The company has 250 employees in the building, 650 in Arizona and 4,000 in the United States, said Ortega, the executive vice president. It has 850 stores in 35 states.

 

"Our main business is serving the swimming pool supply needs for the residential pool owner," Ortega said.

 

To that end, what will be the flagship Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies store is now under construction on the same site.

 

It too will be innovative and unique, Ortega said. How? Ortega said to wait until it opens this fall, and find out.

 

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The 91,500 square-foot customer service center, at 2005 E. Indian School Rd., is unusual not only because it blossomed from the guts of a mothballed warehouse, but also because it is a visually stunning place with soaring ceilings, exposed duct work, work neighborhoods and express hallways.
  • The idea was to create a space that was comfortable, open, conducive to new lifestyles and filled with natural lightaid.
  • The pool theme runs throughout. Pool lights just a few feet off the floor illuminate hallways. A white noise that sounds like the surf fills the air. Blue pool tiles cover several wall spaces. Some bathroom sinks rest on wave-shaped pedestals.