Pearl Izumi’s Award-Winning Headquarters
Photography by Raul Garcia
Outdoor technical gear company Pearl Izumi’s Colorado-based North American headquarters in Louisville has received multiple architectural honors, including recent awards from local chapters of the American Institute of Architects and World Architecture News. Outside magazine recognized the 55,000-square-foot office among its “7 Best Gear Offices in the World,” citing its deft connections with its natural surroundings—including consciously promoting its employees’ active outdoor lifestyle.
What lessons can this dynamic workplace, designed by Boulder/Denver architecture firm Arch11 in collaboration with project lead ZGF Architects of Portland, Oregon, teach us about enhancing sustainability and healthy indoor/outdoor living through design? Here, Arch11’s founding principal, E.J. Meade, shares his thoughts on designing a building to suit the client, the nature of its business, and the landscape.
1. DESIGN FOR EVERYDAY LIVING
Pearl Izumi’s gear is intended to be used outside 365 days a year in any condition. We applied that same principle to the building’s performance. Our team designed a building smart enough to respond to Colorado’s wide range of weather conditions, holding heat well in the winter and using passive cooling techniques to keep occupants comfortable in the summer. Abundant daylighting, fresh air, and views to the outdoors from every workplace promote employee well-being.
Light monitors peek over the main entry and bring light deep into the workspaces.
2. HONOR THE LANDSCAPE
Pearl Izumi wanted its building to have a connection to the outdoors and have a conversation about being of the land, not just on it. In response, we designed the building to follow the natural contours of the hillside on which it is sited. With immediate access to recreation trails and views of the Flatirons, the horizontal floor plan is oriented outward so wherever you are, there is a connection to the landscape.
High ceilings and clerestory windows wash the design and production area with warm, natural light and an airy feel.
3. ENCOURAGE COLLABORATION
The Pearl Izumi workspace features open and transparent offices with high ceilings, along with shared amenities that include a fitness room, a living room, a bike room, locker rooms, a protected courtyard, porches, and an outdoor amphitheater. By limiting vertical separation between spaces, the design naturally encourages cross-departmental interaction.
4. TREAD LIGHTLY
The services demanded of office buildings’ heating, cooling, and lighting require significant energy use. We’ve designed the Pearl Izumi headquarters to be a resource miser by optimizing the building’s orientation on its site to both maximize daylight and provide natural cooling paths. Low-water fixtures and landscaping, recycled materials, and the use of structurally insulated panels (SIPs) all help reduce energy consumption.
Outfitted with a kitchen and comfy seating, the living room is ideal for taking in the scenery or watching the Tour de France with co-workers.
5. CONSIDER THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE
Our design for Pearl Izumi straddles home, work, and recreation. This building has a kitchen and a living room just like a house. It has showers and a workout room. Whether it’s a house or corporate headquarters, it requires a thoughtful response to the relationships between people, place, and program and, especially in Colorado, between indoors and out.