The design begins with a sketch by one of the clients. It is a plan. A sock shape that has three distinct parts: a foot, a heel and a leg. This sketch represents the areas of software development (foot), business functions (leg) and the common areas of shared ideas and culture (heel). The sketch would represent to basis of all design decisions.
The building begins with its users; a technology company producing and selling software to universities for on-line course catalogs - the most successful and prolific company of its kind. With a steady forecast of growth, the company seeks a headquarters that will support their business activities and reinforce and celebrate their culture. The company is led by a dynamic trio of technology savvy entrepreneurs who have an affinity for a partially wooded site, a respect for the individuals they employ and a pride in who they have become.
The building is an extrusion of this parti. The form emphasizes the importance of the software developers (devs) through the inclusion of a foil that delineates where the building “becomes” theirs. The foil is literally a metallic insertion that is read from outside to inside. The building changes languages from an open and inviting envelope to punched openings into a cloister of private offices. The designers were told the windows coverings would likely always be drawn because the “devs” as a group were reclusive.
The envelope’s differing inclusions are obvious through the fenestration, but what is common on both sides of the foil is representation of the owner’s love of the site and the wish to have a 40,000-square foot building speak to the nature around it. The use of wood in the composition and the seemingly random (natural) rhythm of windows with wood punctuation aids the building in belonging to its site.
It is an office building…shaped like a sock.
Location: Coralville, Iowa
Area: 41,577 SF
Client: Leepfrog Technologies
Photo Credits: Timothy Hursley