2016 Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
Rapid growth and a desire to unite all functions under one roof prompted Delta Dental of Iowa to expand its Johnston offices. The original OPN-designed 25,000-square-foot building was completed in 2010 with eastern expansion in mind. The recently completed addition doubled the building’s size.
In 2009, when a site fronting a major interstate was selected for the original structure, the owner was interested in maximizing the company’s brand identity and building’s presence for the millions of motorists that travel this stretch of interstate each week. Other client objectives included incorporating sustainable building strategies, collaboration, and plentiful access to daylight. When the company outgrew the original space, those principles were the impetus behind the design of the office addition.
Oriented along the north-south axis, the two-story addition is situated on the east side of the existing building with eastern and western exposure to maximize views of the surrounding landscape. A brise soliel on the glazed east façade mitigates glare and shades the glass, with another sunshading system on the west wall forming a “screened porch” for exterior gathering. The expansion is a linear, open office bar with stair towers protruding from the east and west sides; the west stair serves as a link between the original and new building. Each stair is accented with a terra cotta feature wall, aesthetically connecting the exterior material with the interior space.
To create a cohesive interior environment and help mitigate the original building’s over-story ceiling height, two-story spaces along the east and west glass walls of the first floor offer open collaboration seating for employees to interact in a conversational space. These collaboration areas flank the open office space. Bookending the open office space are mechanical rooms wrapped in wood and capped with glass panels on the ends facing the workspace, which serve as a writeable wall surface for additional staff collaboration.
On the exterior, terra cotta rainscreen plane walls mask conference rooms and support spaces. Mounted to a plane wall on the south end, the company logo is prominently displayed across a “billboard wall” facing the Interstate. The opaque plane walls are contrasted by the large expanses of glass that provide views out during the day, appearing ethereal with the scrims shading the glass, and at night glow to reveal the interior functions for passersby.