Corporate Retreat

Marion County, Iowa
7,000 SF


Project Team
Yasmine Killeen
Paul Mankins

Corporate Retreat – Substance Architecture
Corporate Retreat – Substance Architecture

Corporate Retreat

Located on a bucolic 65-acre site in rural Iowa, the Corporate Retreat was conceived as a meeting place and respite for multigenerational family owners of a major manufacturing company in southeast Iowa. They desired a comfortable and flexible meeting place in which to come together to talk business and forge bonds with the added ability to bring their spouses and children.

The picturesque 7,000-square foot building was designed to leverage its natural setting and includes a commercial kitchen; a large multifunction dining space for up to 100 people; lounge and breakout spaces for adults and children; service spaces; exterior decks; and a dock. The building also serves as a trailhead, inviting guests to explore the wooded site and surrounding wetlands.

The design surpasses that of the typical meeting space. Carefully nestled into the grade, the building blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings to minimize its environmental impact and preserve the site's tranquility. The interior spaces and windows were developed to take advantage of framed views out to the site. During the day, the result is a series of warm, daylit spaces visually tied to their remarkable setting. In the evening, the building becomes a lantern, welcoming the family back from the activities of the day for food and fellowship.

Design With Nature

By 'nesting' the Corporate Retreat into the hillside and incorporating an extensive green roof, the structure remains unobtrusive, allowing nature to be the focal point. The building reveals itself slowly to visitors, offering a series of spatial experiences leading to dramatic views of a hidden pond and a communal dining space. Its interior, flooded with natural light, offers warm and inviting living spaces that connect seamlessly to the outdoors. The design's marriage of architecture and nature creates a space that is both functional and emotionally resonant, embodying the essence of tranquility and connection.

Multigenerational Design

Serving as an ideal venue for multigenerational family gatherings and corporate events, the Corporate Retreat offers flexible interior spaces, including a spacious communal dining area, adaptable to a variety of group activities and sizes. The design facilitates both intimate family moments and larger business events, making it a versatile setting for events ranging from quiet retreats to lively reunions.

Sustainable Integration 

The green roof—a defining feature of the project—not only camouflaged the building within the landscape, but it also lessens the impact. This living roof contributes to biodiversity, acts as an insulator, and decreases rainwater runoff, embodying an eco-friendly ethos. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the green roof is a functional marvel, bolstering the building's energy efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint. This thoughtful integration with nature ensures the Corporate Retreat is not just physically present in its environment but actively contributes to the ecological well-being of its surroundings.

Corporate Retreat – Substance Architecture

Site plan

Corporate Retreat – Substance Architecture

Floor plans

Rooms with a view

The Corporate Retreat's design makes the most of its natural setting offering panoramic views that change with the seasons. Expansive windows and skylights bathe the interior in natural light during the day and create a cozy, illuminated retreat at night. Locally made brick and other building materials appropriate to the area were chosen to create a sense of place and connection to the natural amenities.


MEPT Engineer (Design-Build)
Structural Engineer
Landscape Architect
Genus Landscape Architects
General Contractor
Neumann Brothers


2023 International Architecture Award - Honorable Mention
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design and The European Centre Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
2022 Best in Class - Commercial
Brick in Architecture Award
2022 American Architecture Award
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design and The European Centre Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
2022 Excellence in Architecture Award
American Institute of Architects - Central States Region
2022 Grand Award
Masonry Institute of Iowa
2021 Excellence in Design - Merit Award
American Institute of Architects - Iowa Chapter


Winter 2023 Iowa Architect
February 2023 Metal Architecture
Summer 2022 Iowa Architect
Winter 2022 Iowa Architect

Photography by Corey Gaffer