Gensler builds Allsteel a new home in Iowa's farm country.
Abby Bussel -- Interior Design, 11/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Flying to Muscatine, Iowa, to design Allsteel's new headquarters, members of Gensler's San Francisco team were inspired by the patchwork of fields below their prop plane, and the agricultural landscape accordingly found its way into the formal and functional elements of Gensler's final design for the contract furniture company. This iconography is not simply a contextual response, but a nod to Allsteel's Midwestern roots, says Gensler design director Collin Burry, who headed a team of Sophie Custer, Bridget Mahoney, Stephen Katz, Lamar Johnson, Dian Duvall, Nao Etsuki, Janice Natchek, Elizabeth Uhlig, Masateru Yoshida, and Beth Novitsky.
Like the kitchen in many farmhouses, the hub of activity at Allsteel's 65,000-sq.-ft. prefab shed is the "community center" just inside the entrance, where a café, reception area, and meeting space invite clients, staff, and trainees to mix—parties are held here, too. Armchairs, rocking chairs, and a slipcovered sofa gather congenially around a fireplace, and a glazed curtain wall frames the view.
Beyond the community center is an open work space where hierarchy is flattened and interaction encouraged. There are no private offices but many conference rooms, including a large central one whose cylindrical shape pays homage to Iowa's water towers and grain silos. The cylindrical structure, clad in sheets of galvanized steel, breaks through the roofline, a beacon amid the farmland for miles around.