Substance Architecture


Holmes Murphy

Waukee, Iowa

This office building houses the corporate headquarters of Holmes Murphy, a national insurance brokerage with a progressive workplace culture.

Holmes Murphy’s previous home had exterior offices on upper floors with open work spaces in dark interior areas. That building organization reinforced the separation between departments and a strong hierarchy between management in day lit offices versus employees in dark open office environments; the building also separated most communal spaces on the ground level with work spaces above.

The design of the new building began with the site, which is part of a new suburban development that has incorporated landscaped open space, recreational trails, and shared ponds into the multi-use development. This was a good fit for Holmes Murphy as it dovetailed with their desires for exterior social space, plentiful daylight and access to recreational amenities.

The two-story building is organized as two precast concrete and glass office wings that flank a glazed two-story space that runs through the building and includes the two open stairways between the levels. The atrium incorporates the building entry, the main gathering and dining space and opens onto a large exterior terrace. All of the work spaces are accessed through this space, reinforcing interactions between team members from each of the seven departments and enhancing the company’s already strong sense of camaraderie.

The building design reflects and reinforces the priorities of the Holmes Murphy culture by giving daylight to every work space, by bringing every team member and visitor into the social ‘heart’ of the building, and by developing the shared conference and socials spaces with enough variety and interest that every team member can find the right work environment to fit their needs.

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