Zurich defies center-core office archetype with stacked, cantilevered HQ

The top bar is 500 feet long, spans 180 feet between the bottom two bars, and cantilevers out 60 feet to the east.

February 03, 2017 |

©James Steinkamp Photography

Spanning 783,800 sf across its 11 stories, Zurich’s new North American headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., houses almost 3,000 employees and contractors in a “stacked bars” office complex. Designed by Goettsch Partners, with Clayco as the developer and design-builder, the LEED Platinum-certified building breaks free from the typical center-core suburban office form with a trio of rectangular boxes that are offset and stacked. The top bar is 500 feet long, spans 180 feet between the bottom two bars, and cantilevers out 60 feet to the east, directly on axis with downtown Chicago, 28 miles to the southeast. 

The HQ’s unusual arrangement offers numerous benefits, including optimal views of the surrounding landscape, improved solar orientation for amenities, and programmatic flexibility for Zurich. It also creates multiple spaces and amenities to encourage collaboration and wellness among employees, including green roofs, outdoor terraces, and a system of walking trails. 

The project’s interior designer and workplace strategist, CannonDesign, led an extensive workplace pilot program and employee survey project (1,300 responses were recorded) to optimize the design scheme. More than 150 employees spent three weeks testing four uniquely configured office neighborhoods, each with different styles of desks, chairs, enclaves, conference rooms, and informal meeting spaces. The final design, which incorporates adjustable sit/stand desks, a variety of formal and informal meeting spaces, and decentralized break areas, was selected based on performance and feedback, including increased interaction among teams, decreased waiting times, and more flexibility.   

Also on the Building Team: JLL (client’s rep.), WSP/Halvorson and Partners (SE), V3 Companies (CE), Thornton Tomasetti (sustainability consultant), and Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects.


©James Steinkamp Photography


​©James Steinkamp Photography

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