When Great America Leasing approached OPN Architects with a plan for the first floor of the company’s headquarters in Cedar Rapids, there wasn’t a program for the space. What did they have, though, was a goal that could be summed up in one word: oasis. Company leadership wanted a place for its 475 staff to recharge during the day.
The final piece of what has been a multi-floor phased renovation of the building — originally designed by OPN Architects in the late ’90s — the employee entertainment area is intentionally divorced from the individual work stations, conference rooms, and coffee alcoves on each of the six floors above.
Presented with options that ranged between a more traditional corporate break-room to the equivalent of an adult jungle gym, the client opted for varied entertainment zones and activities. In the main space, there’s a pool table, shuffleboard, and, a key feature, a five-hole putting green with undulating terrain to make play challenging from all angles. Another area includes a video game console, television, and comfortable seating. Two additional televisions fill a wall faced by an accommodating sofa with seating for a dozen or more, with a bar-height counter behind the sofa.
Café tables and chairs face windows that open to views of the Cedar River. Booths offer a semi-private space for impromptu or informal meetings. Throughout, bright colors keep the energy level high. An enclosed room with wingback chairs, warmer hues, and a digital fireplace is intended for quiet reading or reflection. A lactation suite with lockers, a fridge, and private rooms offers privacy and much-needed silence for new mothers.
For a company that pushed the boundaries of workplace environments decades before its peers, this space demonstrates a continued understanding that employee health and well-being are integral to recruitment and retention.
For the space to be successful, company leadership understands cultural change is crucial. Employees must feel comfortable using the space during work hours as it was intended: an oasis to recenter, refocus, and reengage.