2009 Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Central States Region
2008 Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
2008 Best of Show, International Interior Design Association, Great Plains Chapter
OPN Architects’ office is located on the upper level of what was once a dairy warehouse in downtown Cedar Rapids. The space provides an open, collaborative environment that promotes a free exchange of ideas, while reinforcing connections within the design studio.
The warehouse’s original masonry walls and the steel and heavy timber structure were all exposed to create a framework for the insertion of contemporary elements. New minimalist spaces were created within the historic structure. The juxtaposition of these new spaces with the rough texture provided by the brick and timber gives the office structure and depth. Physical connections between the new elements and the historic envelope of the building were intentionally left as light as possible, with no connections to the original ceiling plane and minimal connections to the original walls.
A red folded plane engages visitors at the street level and guides them up to the office lobby and defines the public space. A series of over-sized walnut pivot doors at the end of the lobby reveal a large conference room that can be opened completely to create an extension of the public space as needed for events, or can be closed to provide a private meeting area.
Flanking the lobby, the teaming room cubes serve as a transparent screen that visually connect the public space of the lobby with the open office work space beyond. Carefully placed cut-outs in the sides of the cubes create a continuous axis that tie the series of spaces together and draw you from one end of the office to the other. This slender glass enfilade also creates visual interaction with groups working in the cubes and passers by. The direct exposure and openness of these rooms to the office work space promotes overflow of conversation and interactive dialogue.
Where original timber posts form a structural bay system along an interior wall, private offices have been inserted within a rectangular box enclosure that has a full glass frontal exposure to the working space of the office. An obscured light-well added along the back wall of these rooms provides natural light that washes down the surface of the exposed masonry and emphasizes the contrasting textures.
The result of this thoughtful transformation is an open and transparent work environment that is conducive to the philosophy and culture of OPN Architects.