Steelcase Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan

superkül was one of four invited teams to submit a proposal to expand and reconfigure a portion of Steelcase’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A leader in the contract furniture industry, Steelcase required additional space in one of two primary buildings on its campus in a suburban industrial park. In its desire to better integrate its leadership community of executives with other departments and employees, the decision was made to shift the group from the top of the five-storey Global Headquarters building to the ground floor of the adjacent Innovation Center.

In response to the competition brief, superkül proposed a non-hierarchical and wholly democratic space to facilitate collaboration and openness amongst all departments. Incorporating and reconfiguring existing interior space, the new zone establishes a soft organic edge that continues beyond the perimeter of the existing building, expressing itself as a gently curving form that in essence becomes a bright and welcoming entry foyer for the building. Contrasting geometries are skillfully integrated with this fresh, modern insertion whose structure and appearance take cues from the many trees on site: vertical steel fins provide a cadence and rhythm to the façade, and the interspersed floor-to-ceiling glazing allows for the provision of natural daylight, views, and a relationship to the site.

Critical to the scheme is the central courtyard that enhances the new addition’s function as a hub of activity and communion. Glazed on all sides, the softly triangulated courtyard becomes a natural meeting place: simultaneously an indoor and outdoor space, the transparent connection to light, air and seasonal variation exerts a gravitational pull on staff and visitors.

While the executives’ offices occupy primarily the south end of the hub, surrounding the courtyard and radiating outward are vessels and spaces for individual or small group work. Here, the circulation is fluid and continuous, encouraged by the design’s softly rounded contours. This easy flow of movement, along with the principal qualities of lightness and transparency, engender collaborative discourse and a sense of community amongst Steelcase staff.

photo: superkül