True North Companies, an international insurance and financial services firm, chose OPN Architects to design its new headquarters in downtown Cedar Rapids.
The project is an addition and renovation to an existing building that previously served as the main branch location of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The existing one story structure was designed to accommodate a second floor, so to minimize the impact of future floods. The majority of the building office space was incorporated into a new addition on top of the original building. Only a few critical functions remain on first floor such as the reception lobby and a handful of offices requiring frequent client access.
The existing auditorium was also restored back to original condition and will be opened for community gatherings and large company functions. The remainder of the first floor has been converted into an indoor, climate controlled parking ramp holding up to 88 employee vehicles. Critical mechanical and electrical equipment have been elevated above the 2008 flood line.
The programmatic needs of True North were clear and logical: individual offices, open office space, conference rooms for collaboration and training, and a break room for employees with a roof terrace. The light-filled and glass-clad office environment offers a stark contrast to the solid stone box of the existing structure and further distinguishes the new life and purpose of the building from the old environment. Cement board panels form an overlapping connection to the existing stone where the new and old intersect while providing a very affordable modern aesthetic.