Conceived as an object in the landscape, surrounded by prairie grass and corn fields, this new 52,000-square-foot R&D laboratory and office building’s simple massing and color palette both compliment and create contrast with the environment in the summer and winter seasons. Oriented along the east-west axis to maximize daylight penetration into the workspace, the 70-foot wide second floor glass-box rests on and cantilevers over the deeper wood-clad first-floor box. Disconnecting the footprints of the first and second floors allowed the lab’s program to drive width and depth. Cantilevers at each end of the second level form protected building entries. A louvered sun-screen along the glass enclosed second story controls heat gain and direct sunlight without compromising views and daylighting along the south façade.
The design is transparent, connected, elegant, efficient, and responsive to its environment and program. Inspired by company leaderships’ desire for their new facility to reinforce their corporate mission of connectivity and collaboration, the design team’s vision coalesced around these dual guiding principles. A building that was an antithesis of their former interior space, where the labs were visually disconnected from the remainder of the building and innovation was stymied by physical barriers. Central to this vision is a bright, day-lit two-story lobby that serves as a social connector and meeting space for employees and visitors. Unexpected views into the lab space challenge convention, connecting researchers to the flow of people through the lobby, and offer a symbolic reminder of the company’s mission to inspire innovative collaboration between lab and office. A yellow-fritted conference room suspended above the lobby is a cue to the work taking place on the floor above as well as the company’s vibrant culture.
At the top of the open staircase, a bottle wall forms a threshold. Constructed out of more than 1,300 glass vaccine bottles, the wall is both a branding statement and a visual punctuation between the public and private areas of the second floor. The core of the building, most typically located at the center of the office, is positioned in the corner opposite the café and multi-purpose room. This allows uninterrupted views to most of the second floor. A series of three additional yellow-fritted glass collaboration cubes animate the open office. Café seating extends onto a patio area and green roof, reinforcing the building’s connection to its setting.
As an embodiment of the company’s mission, the building is a meaningful tool for recruitment and retention, bolstering both the company and community.