Architect: Epstein | Metter Studio
Location: Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA
Principal Designer: Andrew Metter, FAIA
Design Architect: Daesun Park, AIA|LEED AP
Interiors: Epstein Interiors
Landscape Architect: Jacobs/Ryan
Engineer: Epstein Engineering
General Contractor: G.A. Johnson
Constructed Area: 8,360 sqm
Project year: 2009
Photographs: Mark Ballogg
This project is a 90,000 s.f. Corporate Headquarters for Serta International Mattress Co. located in the Prairie Stone Development of Hoffman Estates, IL. The program includes 65,000 square feet of office, wholesale showroom, and presentation areas plus a 25,000 square foot research & development center. The selected site borders a protected wetlands area, resulting in all work spaces having sweeping views of the natural landscape.
Serta’s priorities have resulted in a design which respects and promotes an employee’s right to work in an environment enriched by a connection to the natural world, through the extensive use of natural light, natural ventilation, outdoor work spaces and terraces. Serta has blazed a trail which redefines the nature of “work” for employees in the 21st century by commissioning a work of architecture which is not only functional, but also considers the mental and physical health of their workers as a main design priority. The building is located on a 20 acre parcel, situated on the edge of a natural wetlands system. Serta has developed the site to include natural prairie landscaping, overland drainage bioswales, previous paving, and other features which reinforce Serta’s deep commitment to preserving and protecting the site’s natural features. In fact, Serta chose to build less than 10% of the area allowed on the site and less then 50% of the required parking, in order to minimize the building’s impact on the surrounding landscape.
The architectural composition of the building has been developed to express the two main programmatic functions: Research & Development and office work space. Each of these functions is distinctly articulated in the building massing. Located at the heart of the building are the public spaces such as showrooms, lunch room, and training Auditorium.
The building (700′ long x 67′ wide) has been designed to facilitate equal access to natural light, ventilation, and views of the wetlands for all employees. As a result, the building is expressed as a horizontal bar, generating a strong horizontal datum line.
To maintain this strong horizontal line, while accommodating excess program, finely detailed, projecting cantilevered bays have been developed which hover over the prairie landscape. The structural and architectural detailing has been designed to allow each bay to slide into the building, incorporating reveals between multiple wall layers, and sandwiched between the upper and lower concrete brows. This allows the program to grow organically, while reflecting the natural contours of the site.
In addition, the floor plan has been designed to facilitate natural light penetration. The plan has been layered from a glass edged public circulation path on the east, defined by a translucent core zone, to an open office area on the west toward the wetlands. All private offices and conference rooms are clear or translucent glass to preserve the views, with a second level glass pavilion lunchroom, outdoor wood deck, and terrace with trellis.
Serta expressed an interest in creating a work of architecture which would exhibit their unique approach to their business and craft. Textiles, fabrics and textures are a critical and integral part of the “craft” aspect of the products Serta produces. Toward that end, the design takes advantage of the variations in the topography of the site, to weave together the building and landscape into a strong holistic composition. The design intent of the building is to float lightly on the landscape, reinforcing the notion of environmental sustainability and echoing the lines of the prairie landscape.
Through a collaborative client/architect design process, Serta has realized an appropriate expression for its corporate priorities, environmental responsibility, and employee enrichment.