Project Design

When it was still a working farm in the nineteenth century, the Brooks Farm existed as a wholly self-sufficient place that used the surrounding prairie's renewable resources to produce its harvest. Now, as home to the Kresge Foundation, the farm's structures have been preserved and connected to a new twenty-first-century building. This approach embeds the new architecture into an iconic landscape and allows for the use a wide range of new, sustainable strategies. The result is an innovative workplace that combines the best of the new and the old.

The design of the Kresge Foundation headquarters integrates three architectural objectives: the restoration of the landmarked nineteenth-century farmhouse complex, the creation of a great workplace, and the development of a holistic sustainable strategy for the entire complex.The challenge was to create a visually integrated whole from these three disparate objectives.The complex is intended to connect natural and manmade elements, both historic and contemporary, to create a workplace that serves as a model for the staff and for those nonprofit organizations that are eligible for Kresge challenge grants. Conceptually, the restored farmhouse buildings sit high above the landscape, floating on a sea of grasses. In contrast, the new building, with two-thirds of its area below grade, is embedded in the restored prairie and strives to become a part of the landscape.

View of the building set into the retention pond on a base made up of gabions. (BK)

The interiors are intended to be an extension of the restored prairie. Certified wood floors echo the natural grasses that surround the building, bringing the sense of the natural environment into the interior. The modular desk systems echo the geometry of the building—a ribbon of metal that passes above, through, and below the datum that is the surface of the prairie. The interior incorporates a number of sustainable strategies that are integrated into the whole. These include a light harvesting system, energy saving system controls, and raised floor air distribution. The building is qualified for a LEED Gold rating and may qualify for a Platinum rating.

The design evolved through a series of brainstorming sessions with staff, board members, and the design team. This process built a commitment to build a place that is more than just an office. It is a place where every element was designed to acknowledge the larger context, from the overall forms of the building to the furniture systems. The result is a seamless, integrated whole.

TOP: Interior office view of the Kresge Foundation Headquarters. (JM)

BOTTOM LEFT: Interior office view of the Kresge Foundation Headquarters, showing daylighting. (JM)

BOTTOM RIGHT: Custom millwork furniture with FSC-certified wood veneer and wheatboard substrate. (BK)

OPPOSITE PAGE: Nighttime view of exterior elevation of courtyard. (BK)

KRESGE FOUNDATION HEADQUARTERS

COURTYARD LEVEL

1 EMPLOYEE ENTRANCE

2 EXECUTIVE OFFICE

3 PRIVATE OFFICE

4 OPEN OFFICE

5 CONFERENCE ROOM

6 WORK ROOM

7 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

8 FILE ROOM

9 MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL

10 MECHANICAL

11 STORAGE

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3

3

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