Construction Update
▶ Chicagoland’s Most Striking New Building Looks Almost Done; No, It’s Not in The Loop

Zurich North America headquarters under construction (Courtesy of Goettsch Partners)

Zurich North America headquarters under construction (Courtesy of Goettsch Partners)

It’s always nice when a company understand that having great architecture is part of putting together a good work environment for its employees. Witness the soon-to-be-former McDonald’s headquarters in northwest suburban Des Plaines, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson campus up I-94 in Racine, Wisconsin.

Of course, it’s easier to be all idealistic about architecture when you’ve got acres of empty (and cheap!) prairie as a canvas. That’s why you so often see the same conservative designs in dense urban environments, block to block, city to city.

The latest company in Chicagoland trying to make happy, productive employees through great architecture is insurance giant Zurich North America in northwest suburban Schaumburg.

It hired friends-of-the-blog Goettsch Partners to design a groundbreaking, memorable headquarters building for its new 40-acre campus on I-90 at Meacham Road.

Goettsch recently shared the photograph above, showing progress on the 735,000 square foot building and to the untrained eye, it looks about done, though we’re assured there’s still a long way to go.

Naturally, the building is going for LEED certification, with green roofs and everything. It’s conceived as two long rectangle boxes, seemingly positioned randomly in the countryside, with a third perched atop, linking the two.

That third box, completing the building’s 11-story height, is actually oriented so that it points to downtown Chicago.

In addition to making the Earth smile, Zurich is trying to make its employees smile by having the building designed with lots of natural light, walking paths for outside breaks, and an outdoor pavilion for employee gatherings. There’s also a covered walkway which leads to the parking garage that absolutely ruins the whole thing. The project would have been perfect if the garage was underground, or under a slope of green, or otherwise not a visible reminder of the stress of driving.

To watch the constructwion in real-time, check out the construction camera perched on top of the Motorola building. Linky.

To get a better visual overview of the project, check out the quadcopter video at the top of this page.

Location: 1301 East Algonquin Road, Schaumburg

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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