Holmes Murphy Headquarters

Waukee, Iowa
93,000 SF

Holmes Murphy

Project Team
Tim Hickman
Matt Rodekamp
Kevin Wagner

Holmes Murphy Headquarters – Substance Architecture
Holmes Murphy Headquarters – Substance Architecture

Holmes Murphy Headquarters

Holmes Murphy, a national insurance brokerage, grappled with a significant issue in their previous headquarters: a disjointed workspace that reinforced departmental separation and hierarchy. The layout featured exterior offices for management and poorly lit, open work areas for the rest of the staff. Communal spaces were isolated on the ground floor, further disconnecting team members. This arrangement starkly contrasted with the company’s progressive and team-centric culture, and a transformation was sorely needed.

Substance Architecture’s design for Holmes Murphy's new corporate headquarters in Waukee, IA, seamlessly blends with the progressive culture the company espouses. Located in a suburban development rich in outdoor amenities, the new two-story building features two precast concrete and glass office wings surrounding a central, light-filled atrium. This open atrium serves as the social 'heart' of the building, offering communal dining and gathering spaces, and even extending outdoors to a large terrace. This architectural renewal clearly resonates with the core values of Holmes Murphy, shaping not just a new building but a revitalized organizational culture.

Operational Organization

By routing all foot traffic through the central atrium, the design cultivates interaction across departments and nurtures the company’s communal spirit. The new headquarters offers diverse conference and social spaces, allowing for work environment customization according to individual needs. Offices and workstations, all consistently sized, are organized by job function with more social, “on the move” salespeople located closest to the atrium. Clerestory windows in the atrium allow all workspaces to enjoy natural light.

Holmes Murphy Headquarters – Substance Architecture

Building section

Holmes Murphy Headquarters – Substance Architecture

Atrium during construction

Holmes Murphy Headquarters – Substance Architecture

Floor plate axonometric

Holmes Murphy Headquarters – Substance Architecture

Exploded axonometric


Mechanical Engineer (Design-Build)
Baker Group
Electrical Engineer (Design-Build)
The Waldinger Corporation
Structural Engineer
Raker Rhodes Engineering LLC
Landscape Architect
General Contractor
The Weitz Company
Knapp Properties

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography