E.J. Meade, principal architect at Arch11, calls the new Pearl Izumi corporate headquarters a fragmented design barn. That might not be the most glitzy description for the buzzing home base of the manufacturer of some of the world’s most sought-after performance apparel, cycling gear, and footwear—but the name is nevertheless fitting.
Situated in a corporate office park on an uplifted hillside east of the Colorado Front Range, the newly built 54,000-square-foot facility is clad in exposed steel and sheltered by overhanging dormers that let in daylight and provide natural cooling through passive thermal chimneys. The building houses the research and design, prototyping and testing, marketing, management, and financial functions for roughly 200 Pearl Izumi employees. A huge main floor is home to a shared workspace alive with the sounds of sewing machines, designers scribbling away, and employee-athletes in a yoga room, gym, and performance testing area. There is a living room fireplace that looks out at the mountains.
The building applies the Frank Lloyd Wright school of organic architecture to a western geology, taking its cues from the syncline rock layers and agricultural sheds of eastern Colorado. The walls are not exactly plumb. The entrywall is made from recycled snow fencing recovered in Wyoming. Large pitched roofs create outdoor workspaces and extend beyond the building envelope to protect against bitter western winds and intense summer heat. A central courtyard allows sun in but shields the wind, making it usable by employees 365 days a year, just like the brand promise Pearl Izumi makes about its athletic wear.
The ultra high-performance building envelope has an R-value three to four times greater than a building of equal dimensions. High performance glazing reduces heat on the northern side of the building, while preserving it to the south. Flyash concrete and steel skin lock in heat.
LOCATION Louisville, CO Program Manufacturer HQ Size 54,000 ft2
ARCHITECT Arch11 and ZGF
Contractor Haselden Construction
Engineer and Project Management BuroHappold Engineering
Owner’s Representative Bill Mascarenez
Civil Engineer Creative Civil Solutions
MEP Engineer DMCE
When the building was completed in January 2014, it must have come as something of a shock to the tenants of the 100 or so nearby corporate offices, including Boulder Sausage, ITW Industrial Finishing, and Rockmont Industries, occupying the Colorado Technology Center in Louisville, Colorado. “I’d call it an atypical build in a typical office park. We gave Pearl Izumi an iconic headquarters that not only responds to who they are as a company but also responds to the site unlike any other building in the area,” Meade says.
For a company who pledges, “We’re not like other companies. We are Pearl Izumi, champions of the human machine,” being an architectural outlier would seem like success.
Former Pearl Izumi CEO Juergen Eckmann commissioned the $9.8 million project in May 2012. The joint venture was led by Randy McGee of ZGF Architects, in partnership with Arch11, engineering firm BuroHappold, and contractor Haselden. The six-week charette brought together the Pearl Izumi executive board, sales and design teams, and owner’s representative Bill Mascarenez. “For us, we were a small firm. When we jumped in, we were six people. Partnering with ZGF a firm with over 100 people was a way for us show our ability but learn from a bigger business,” Meade says.