Epstein | Metter Studio — This 90,000-square-foot corporate headquarters for mattress manufacturer Serta International occupies a 17-acre parcel adjacent to a protected wetland in a suburban Chicago office park. The low-slung building snakes along the edge of the wetlands, seeming to hover in the prairie grass, and concrete shelves along the top and bottom of the curtain wall reinforce the building’s horizontality. Projecting bays differentiate the façade and provide additional square footage for conference rooms and executive offices—the largest, extending 14 feet, houses a training room. An attached steel-framed, high-bay structure houses R&D space and a public showroom. Clad in channel glass, the R&D volume incorporates a metal-grate awning that shades a roof deck outside the second-floor cafeteria.
Jurors admired the quality of interior light afforded by the narrow floor plate and agreed that the building was well-executed, but some questioned whether it really breaks new ground. Ralph Johnson defended the project, calling it “a gem in the desert of suburban sprawl.” Carlos Jimenez agreed, complimenting the lightness of the structure and the design team’s success at advancing the client’s agenda. “Knowing how difficult it is to achieve that level of quality in those environments, it sends a message of optimism,” Jimenez said.