Henkel’s U.S. corporate headquarters sits on the northernmost edge of sprawling Scottsdale, Ariz., on a site bracketed by the State Route 101 and 120 acres of ripped-up ground awaiting construction. Where the grading machines stopped, the Sonoran Desert stretches out to the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Phoenix-based architect Will Bruder with CH2M Hill designed the four-story office and laboratory building to be a signature cornerstone for One Scottsdale, a ritzy planned mixed-use development with retail, residential, office, and entertainment. Right now, with construction of the overall project stalled until potentially 2014, Henkel’s headquarters building is a flagship moored on the banks of what Bruder refers to as a “Michael Heizer earthwork.”

Despite its marooning, the structure fits comfortably in its context. Stands of mesquite and ironwood trees and saguaro cactuses were salvaged from the rest of the One Scottsdale site and replanted around the building. “[The building] almost looks like it grows from the desert,” Bruder says. “The landscape acts as a buffer between the freeway and the façade.”

Commuters see that 200-foot-long façade from the roadway at 65 mph; it goes by in a 7.5-second streak of fritted glass and aluminum mullions. The opposite side, designed to front the streets of the forthcoming development, takes a slower pace. Attention is given to texture: Terra-cotta bricks and gray Mexican plaster contrast with the sleek curtain wall, which masks interior offices, labs, and a “cafetorium.” Folds and bends in the façade allow for a covered port-cochere and accommodate access to below-grade parking. At the front entry, fiberglass column covers glow in the desert light with a brightness that matches an array of red, green, and amber neon signs advertising the Henkel brands.

Typical of suburban office employees, Henkel’s begin their day in the 900-car parking garage. Bruder used graphics and both artificial and natural light to turn the three subterranean floors into memorable, functional places. “We made [the parking garage] into an art piece. It’s not a forgotten space,” he explains. Channeling the work of artist Dan Flavin, fluorescent strip lights are wrapped in colored gels.

Life in the 348,000-square-foot headquarters centers around two key spaces: the atrium and the cafetorium, a grand room on the second floor, which, as the name implies, doubles as both cafeteria and assembly area. (It comfortably can hold the entire staff.) Bruder calls the 82-foot-high atrium a “vessel of light,” as the skylit volume carries daylight into the surrounding office floors. An open stairwell floats in the space; with generous landings and a comfortable rise-to-run ratio, it’s designed to give Henkel employees a spot to stop and chat.

The desert reasserts itself on the third floor in the form of a grand roof garden designed by landscape architect Christy Ten Eyck. Adjacent to the fitness center and cafetorium mezzanine, it provides nearly an acre and a half of outdoor space. Native shrubs and trees foreground a distant view of the McDowell Mountains. It’s a powerful visual trick: From the elevated perspective the One Scottsdale construction site disappears, leaving only undisturbed desert.

Project Credits

Project Henkel Headquarters
Client Henkel North America
Architect and Interior Designer Will Bruder+Partners, Phoenix—Will Bruder, Ben Nesbeitt, Ron Deitrick, Dan Olic, Marjorie Whitton, Joaquin Roesch, Fernando Da Col, Anthony Yozipovic, Anthony Tumminello, Dominique Price, Chris Balzano, Claudia Saunders (project team)
Architect CH2M Hill, Tempe, Ariz.—Steve Waite, Tim Allen, Thane Joyce, Ed Hemrick (project team)
Structural Engineer Paragon Structural Design
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer CH2M Hill
Landscape Architect Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
Lighting Design Francis Krahe Associates
Acoustical Consulting Tony Sola
Size 348,000 square feet

Texlon ETFE Atrium Skylight System
The atrium, or “vessel of light,” as Bruder calls it, is topped with an 18-foot-wide by 180-foot-long multicell inflated membrane skylight. A three-layer system with shade patterns on upper and middle layers, the skylight lets in a flood of natural light while minimizing solar heat gain.

Curtain Wall and Cladding Systems
KT Fabrication
phone 480.497.3140
An aluminum curtain wall system wraps the Henkel headquarters. Spandrel glass and aluminum panels vary across the façade. Bruder specified custom mullion cap profiles. Deeper than standard, the design exploits visual phenomena, so that the metal takes on color: The topside reflects the blue sky, while the underside reflects earth brown.

Fritted Glass
Frit patterns appear on all of the building’s exterior glazing. More than simple ornament, the custom patterns aid in daylight control. To counter heavy sun exposure, the west and south façades employ high-density fritting, while the east and north use medium-density patterning. Opaque fritting stops heat gain before it enters the cavity of the insulated glass, while translucent white fritting diffuses daylight farther into the floorplate.

Translucent Colored Fiberglass
American Fiberglass
Red and amber-colored translucent column jackets greet visitors on arrival to the headquarters and mark the entry to the employee cafetorium. Jewel-toned and sculptural, the column covers are composed of glass fiber-reinforced pigmented resin over custom forms.