Located on a sloping wetlands site in the Prairie Stone Office Park near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Serta headquarters is a suitably Midwestern exercise in horizontality—along the historical lines of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. The bulk of the building is an S-shaped, single-story, post-tensioned concrete volume that seems to float on its recessed base. The south end of the building rests on piers to maintain the horizontal baseline where the site slopes sharply down to a water detention pond.
The building façade is demarcated by a projecting lip of concrete at the top and another at the base; both run the length of the structure. The area within these “brows” is glazed to allow maximum views out and daylight in. Interrupting the glass expanse are five projecting bays, which add texture to the façade and create additional space within the narrow floor plate for executive offices and conference rooms. The largest bay houses a training room and cantilevers out 14 feet from the building’s base.
A two-story steel-framed structure on the east side of the building houses the R&D facility. Clad in channel glass to obscure the industrial interior, the structure features a roof canopy that covers the sole second-story element on the main building—a cafeteria and sunshaded roof deck.
The main building’s interior is split into two zones—public and private—by a frosted glass interior wall along the eastern edge. Most enclosed spaces are ganged up along the wall, leaving the rest of the floor for open office space. And open it is—post-tensioned concrete beams allowed for 47-foot clear spans, limiting the number of columns in the space. The finishes show a hyper-attention to detail, with Metter designing some of the drawer hardware himself to maintain the minimalist aesthetic.
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