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THE SPEED OF NATURAL LIGHT

Atrium hallway at Herman Miller Miller SQA Building
Holland, Mich.

Client
Miller SQA (subsidiary of Herman Miller)

Architect
William McDonough & Partners and VerBurg & Associates

Building type
Office/Manufacturing

Award Category
Private sector, under $25 million


No winner better embodies two major themes of the BUSINESS WEEK/Architectural Record contest--the use of natural light and creating arenas for communication--than the Herman Miller SQA Inc. building. The jury was unanimous in agreeing that William McDonough & Partners did a superb job in designing a building that was part office and part manufacturing facility, especially in light of an 18-month start-to-completion schedule.

This division of contract-furniture maker Herman Miller was out to cut its order-to-shipping time from several months to two weeks. To do that, there had to be much more collaboration among the 600 manufacturing workers and 120 front-office staff. Production, sales, design, and management had to be in close proximity for quick thinking and decision-making.

The architects designed a wide ''street'' to bridge office and manufacturing operations. Everyone enters the building through this street, and the entire area is skylighted to encourage people to hang out there. Indeed, natural light permeates both the office and industrial area, boosting morale and saving on lighting and cooling costs. ''People look for shady spots,'' says architect McDonough. He and Herman Miller even decided to pump up the fresh-air volume higher than code. ''There is a business sense to this rhetoric of green design,'' says McDonough. This winner proves him right.



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