Emerging Development in Farmington Hills is Set in a Forest, Offers Green Features

Novi-based Cunningham-Limp, a full-service construction management organization, has unveiled the details of a 10-acre, six-building complex being constructed for Japan Solderless Terminals (JST), a global leader in the connection industry.
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Aerial view of construction site
Japan Solderless Terminals’ new headquarters in Farmington Hills, developed by Cunningham-Limp, will include a variety of sustainable features. // Photo courtesy of JST and Cunningham-Limp

Novi-based Cunningham-Limp, a full-service construction management organization, has unveiled the details of a 10-acre, six-building complex being constructed for Japan Solderless Terminals (JST), a global leader in the connection industry.

The sprawling parcel at 35917 12 Mile Road in Farmington Hills, which began development in 2019 after several years of planning, is slated to welcome the first completed building — the Test Lab — in fall 2023.

An homage to the forest and Japanese culture and design, the chief elements of the development will portray the idea of harmony: between people and the ecosystem, Japanese and American cultures, and the preservation of nature in a built environment.

All materials will be naturally sourced as part of the fundamental theme of the project. In contrast to traditional construction methods and materials, there will be no drywall, paint, structured steel, catch basins, storm pipes, carpet, or other synthetic products used, according to Cunningham-Limp project manager Jake Gardner.

“This project completely flips the traditional method of construction. It’s a craftsman approach on a commercial scale,” Gardner says. “The project is about using natural products to tell a story of cohabitation with the ecosystem. It just happens to be unfolding in a corporate setting.”

The JST development first came to the attention of Cunningham-Limp through its president, Samuel J. Ashley Jr., who was immediately intrigued by the opportunity to be a part of a project in a commercial corridor using a sustainable methodology that will have a positive impact on the community.

“Years ago, I was invited to an introductory meeting to learn about the strategy and vision for this development. Given what was shared, my first reaction was disbelief. I couldn’t imagine that something of this thought, vision, and investment would ever be undertaken in our region,” Ashley says. “After a couple more introductory meetings, we began building relationships with the collective organizations participating in the project, which followed with a proposal for Cunningham-Limp to assist in the early planning stages.

“Little did I know that those first few meetings would turn into six years of strategic and thoughtful planning and preparation to activate the project physically on the site.”

JST, which manufactures a variety of connectors, terminals, and splices, is currently located in Farmington Hills, near the new site. According to Mark Rei, executive manager and global sales and business development leader at JST, the development’s efforts to be in harmony with nature and prevent disruptions to the site’s ecosystem and biodiversity will also benefit JST team members.

“Beyond the infrastructure, we want our employees to find harmony with the natural environment as well,” Rei says. “JST will be a place where our people are encouraged to spend time outdoors and appreciate the surrounding forest throughout their workday.

“It is certainly the prominent aspect of this whole design, and it’ll be a unique experience compared to typical corporate culture in America.”

Critical to the project is the preservation of the forested land and the ecosystem, with the ultimate goal of optimal coexistence with humans and nature. Examples of the project’s sustainable efforts include the following:

  • The construction team harvested an estimated 90 trees that were tagged and removed to clear space for the project and will be repurposed in building construction and furniture.
  • Saplings from the 2019 groundbreaking were taken to a farm in Williamston, where they can grow and ultimately be replanted on the property. The replanting is projected to begin in spring 2024.
  • A geothermal field was created throughout the campus by installing 72 wells 450 feet below the ground to regulate the building temperatures.
  • Efforts to rid the area of invasive species have been deployed in order to restore its original ecosystem.
  • A detailed study of migration patterns of species native to the area was undertaken prior to the beginning of construction.
  • Numerous workarounds for wetlands have been deployed so as not to disturb the natural habitat.
  • Only approximately 4 acres of the 10-acre site have been disturbed.
  • Features include thatched and green roofs, naturally harvested stone, and bonderized metal.

Completion of the full project, which includes approximately 79,000 square feet of building space, is anticipated in 2025. Costs associated with the project were not disclosed.