North Carolina Farm Bureau Office Building
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Completion Date: 1992; renovations to 1970 building completed 2003.
Project Team: Frank Harmon and Quan Banh
The overcrowded North Carolina Farm Bureau needed space for 300 employees. In 1990, the Board of Directors asked us to renovate the bureau’s existing facility and to design an office addition and boardroom, totaling 70,000 square feet. The site is a wooded hillside adjacent to a busy city thoroughfare. Seventy-five-year-old oak trees also occupied the site.
Our Design Response
Most of the Farm Bureau’s employees work at computers in small workstations. Their jobs require concentration and privacy. Yet after two weeks of observing how they work and interact with each other, we determined that they needed to feel connected to the larger “community.” They also needed views of the outdoors to provide relief from the visual confinement of the computer screens. Consequently, we designed the new office facility as a large, open hall with a high ceiling and panoramic glazing overlooking a wooded creek valley. In the “hall,” everyone has a view and everyone can change workstations easily when necessary. To reduce eyestrain at the computers, we used a soft, indirect lighting system comprised of concealed fluorescent lamps. To eliminate glare from the abundant glazing, we used sunscreen filters at the windows to block direct sun. Together, the indirect lighting and sunscreens reduce the contrast between inside and out and provide better views of the outdoors. We also took great care to preserve the 75-year-old oak trees surrounding the new building.
To renovate the existing 28,000-square-foot office building, we redesigned the office layout to improve traffic flow and to give the employees better working areas. We incorporated a new, indirect lighting system into this building as well, which not only provides better illumination but also reduces the building’s energy consumption by 50 percent.
1992 AIA NC Honor Award