Located on a 40-acre expressway site in suburban Chicago, the North American headquarters of Swiss-based Zurich Insurance Group is designed to reflect the company’s global reach and world-class stature. The formal architectural resolution strives to represent both strength and stability, which are core values of the Zurich business model. Composed of three primary “bars” that are offset and stacked, the arrangement creates unique spaces for collaboration, opens views of the surrounding landscape, optimizes solar orientation for amenities, and provides programmatic flexibility not found in typical center-core office buildings. The top “bar” of the complex soars 11 stories and cantilevers toward downtown Chicago, providing visual identity along the interstate while projecting the strength and future focus of the company.
Home to roughly 3,000 employees and contractors, the headquarters is designed as a campus-like environment with a variety of spaces. Unique interior layouts feature an emphasis on views, sunlight and flexible programming options. Employee feedback on pilot office layouts helped drive decisions to include a number of social hubs such as a dining area, fitness center and a performance auditorium; private enclaves for individual, focused work; and sit-stand desks for all employees.
Certified LEED Platinum, the 783,800-square-foot complex reinforces Zurich’s commitment to environmental stewardship. A network of horizontal sunshades clads the perimeter of the complex, with the sunshades varying in depth depending on orientation, while floor-to-ceiling glass offers extensive natural light for the shallow office plates. A soaring three-story double wall faces south toward the multi-level plazas, showcasing an architecture that responds to the changing Chicago climate. In the end, a timeless material palette married to a bold, clear form creates a unique identity for the Zurich headquarters that embodies the core values of the company.
Key sustainability highlights that contributed to LEED Platinum certification include:
• 62% Energy Cost Reduction
o Cogeneration facility uses a natural gas-fueled engine to generate electricity, as well as produce waste heat for other uses in the building
• 39% Domestic Water Use Reduction
o Installed water-efficient fixtures that reduce the water use (low-flow toilets and sinks)
o Rainwater harvest and reuse
• High-Performance Enclosure
o Tuning of façade for shading and orientation, including exterior shading and interior automated shades with daylight sensors
o Double wall mitigates the interior/exterior temperature difference, specifically on the south wall
o Great access to daylight
• 99% of Construction and Demolition Waste Diverted From Landfill
• 8 Electric-Vehicle Charging Stations
o Additional prioritized parking provided for low-emitting and carpool vehicles
• Open Space and Native Landscaping
o Nearly 40-acre site with more than 70% open/softscape
o Includes more than 1 acre of green roof, 637 trees and 13+ acres of native savannah plantings
• Green Building Education
o Zurich employees were an integral participant to the goals and process of the project. Multiple charrettes and education sessions were held in order to understand their wants and needs for the new campus.
Goettsch Partners (GP) is an architecture firm with a global perspective. Based in Chicago, with additional offices in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, the firm brings a singular approach to design that combines seasoned experience with a passion for exploration and innovation. Completed projects span five continents and represent a diverse range of types and sizes. Every project design begins with multiple concepts that are evaluated for intrinsic value, constructability and environmental impact. GP projects share a consistent visual language of bold clarity that celebrates highly crafted technical solutions delivering optimal performance.