The design of GKD-USA, Inc. corporate headquarters in rural Cambridge, MD was the result of an atypical collaboration between client and architect. While the construction of the new facility was precipitated by growth and the need for an additional workspace, the simplicity of design and use of the company’s own product resulted in a showcase of woven metal fabrics.
Internationally renowned architect, Dominique Perrault was selected for the project with Ziger/Snead as the architect of record. Perrault’s concept for the building was to create a democratic workspace that would foster a sense of community among the workforce. This was successfully accomplished by creating a cohesive workspace that did not segregate the plant from the office spaces. Without this division, employees in all capacities of the organization have the ability to easily communicate and interact with one another, which results in a more efficient workflow and a greater sense of teamwork. Every employee also has the benefit of natural light in his or her workspace through large floor-to-ceiling windows in the offices and skylights and windows in the production area. An onsite fitness facility and locker room were also incorporated to offer employees an opportunity to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.
Already having a familiarity with the company’s metal fabrics, Perrault enthusiastically incorporated the company’s own materials in the design of the building for aesthetics as well as function. From floor and ceiling treatments to the interior of the elevator cab, the building proudly displays its own product in very practical and pleasing applications. Even more importantly are the environmentally conscious aspects of the facility. The exterior use of sunscreens significantly reduces the company’s energy consumption while providing a comfortably controlled environment for the occupants. The practical and sustainable stainless steel material was preferred for its many green benefits. Maintaining the appearance of the product requires very little effort and it is a highly-durable, permanent choice in an increasingly disposable world.
Beyond the unique and striking visual appeal of the facility is the functionality of the workspace, which has produced measurable results. The expansion of the plant facility and addition of new equipment and increased efficiency have increased production capacity by 80%. Additionally, the company projected a metal fabric sales growth of 95% for the following year as a result of increased brand recognition and the attention to the use of stainless steel in architecture.