Raising the bar: Zurich North American Headquarters

Silver Award: Forgoing a typical center-core design, the Zurich North America Headquarters rises 11 stories across three stacked bars.

June 08, 2017 |

The top bar of Zurich North America’s headquarters building (right) spans 180 feet and runs along an outdoor terrace that staff and visitors can use to move between the two bottom bars. James Steinkamp Photography.

Like a giant arrow pointing toward downtown Chicago, the top bar of the Zurich North America Headquarters building cantilevers 60 feet to the east and rests atop two other bars. Not only is this stacked, three-bar design striking to look at, it also provides occupants with unique collaboration spaces, open views of the surrounding landscape, and programmatic flexibility that typical center-core buildings cannot offer.

The top bar is 500 feet long and spans 180 feet between the bottom two bars, which each rise five stories.

Sustainability played a key role in the development of the headquarters building, which is the largest building of its kind to reach LEED Platinum certification. When compared to similar buildings, the structure saved 62% in energy costs and 39% in domestic water use. The façade includes exterior shading and interior automated shades with daylight sensors. A double wall mitigates the interior/exterior temperature difference. Floor-to-ceiling glass provides natural light to the shallow office plates. Design-builder Clayco also diverted 99% of construction and demolition waste from landfills.

The complex’s 3,000 employees can enjoy a fitness center, cafeteria, conference center, and outdoor terraces that are all connected via walking trails through the fully landscaped estate. 

The Building Team received more than 1,300 responses from employee surveys that were used to create a truly collaborative environment.


James Steinkamp Photography.


Building Team – Submitting firm, design-builder Clayco, Inc. Owner Zurich North America Developer CRG Real Estate Solutions Architect Goettsch Partners Interior architect CannonDesign Structural engineer Halvorson and Partners, Desman Inc. Mechanical engineer Icon Mechanical 

General Information – Size 783,000 sf Cost $400 million Construction time June 2014 to September 2016 Delivery method Design-build


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